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No more Bull`s… Banana is it a fruit or sweet desert?

Some contradictions about this fruit… the way I remember it… when I first tasted a banana was before or just after the fall of the comunism. And I`ve eaten just a little slice from it… all that could be found then… or this is how I remember it. The contradiction is with my parents because they told me that my memories are wrong and that bananas we widely spread and found before the fall of the romanian comunism… Don`t know anymore for sure. But I`ll stick to my version of the story, considering the part that just to buy some oranges we stood and wait in a line for many many hours. So in my opinion, back then is  like in the song… Yes! We Have No Bananas… today… that day:

Day 2: We got a lot now… more and more BANANAS today!

Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. In popular culture and commerce, „banana” usually refers to soft, sweet „dessert” bananas. Bananas from a group of cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains.

They are native to tropical Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea.Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber and as ornamental plants.

The fruit

Bananas are the staple starch of many tropical populations. Both skin and inner part can be eaten raw or cooked. Bananas’ flavor is due, amongst other chemicals, to isoamy l acetate which is one of the main constituents of banana oil.

During the ripening process, bananas produce a plant hormone called ethylene, which indirectly affects the flavor. Among other things, ethylene stimulates the formation of amylase, an enzymethat breaks down starch into sugar, influencing the taste of bananas. The greener, less ripe bananas contain higher levels of starch and, consequently, have a „starchier” taste. On the other hand, yellow bananas taste sweeter due to higher sugar concentrations.

Bananas are eaten deep fried, baked in their skin in a split bamboo, or steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf. Bananas can be made into jam. Banana pancakes are popular amongst backpackers and other travelers in South Asia and Southeast Asia. This has elicited the expression Banana Pancake Trail for those places in Asia that cater to this group of travelers. Banana chips are a snack produced from sliced dehydrated or fried banana or plantain, which have a dark brown color and an intense banana taste. Dried bananas are also ground to make banana flour. Extracting juice is difficult, because when a banana is compressed, it simply turns to pulp. Bananas fried with batter is a popular dessert in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. A similar dish is known in the United States as banana fritters.

Plantains are used in various stews and curries or cooked, baked or mashed in much the same way as potatoes.

Seeded bananas (Musa balbisiana), the forerunner of the common domesticated banana, are sold in markets in Indonesia.

The flower

The flower of the banana plant (also known as banana blossom or banana heart) is used in Southeast Asian, Telugu, Tamil, and Bengali, either raw or steamed with dips or cooked in soups and curries. The flower’s flavor resembles that of artichoke’s. As with artichokes, both the fleshy part of the petals and the heart are edible.

The trunk

The tender core of the banana plant’s trunk is also used in Telugu, Bengali and Kerala cooking, and notably in the Burmese dish mohinga.

The leaves

Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof. They are often used as ecologically friendly disposable food containers or as „plates” in South Asia and several Southeast Asian countries.

Steamed with dishes they impart a subtle sweet flavor. They often serve as a wrapping for grilling food. The leaves contain the juices, protects food from burning and adds a subtle flavor.

Health benefits

Along with other fruits and vegetables, consumption of bananas are associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer and in women, breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma.

Individuals with a latex allergy may experience a reaction to bananas.

The juice extract prepared from the tender core treats kidney stones and high blood pressure.

Bananas contain considerable amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. The latter makes them of particular interest to athletes who use them to quickly replenish their electrolytes.

Cavendish

In global commerce, by far the most important cultivar is ‘Cavendish’, which accounts for the majority of banana exports. The Cavendish gained popularity in the 1950s after the previous mass-produced cultivar, Gros Michel, became commercially unviable due to Panama disease, a fungus which attacks the roots of the banana plant.

Ease of transport and shelf life rather than superior taste make the Cavendish the main export banana. Major commercial cultivars rarely have superior flavor.

In India, juice is extracted from the corm and used as a home remedy for jaundice, sometimes with the addition of honey, and for kidney stones.

Ripening

Export bananas are picked green, and ripen in special rooms upon arrival in the destination country. These rooms are air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening. The vivid yellow color normally associated with supermarket bananas is in fact a side-effect of the artificial ripening process. Flavor and texture are also affected by ripening temperature. Bananas are refrigerated to between 13.5 and 15 °C (56 and 59 °F) during transport. At lower temperatures, ripening permanently stalls, and turns the bananas gray as cell walls break down. The skin of ripe bananas quickly blackens in the 4 °C (39 °F) environment of a domestic refrigerator, although the fruit inside remains unaffected.

„Tree-ripened” Cavendish bananas have a greenish-yellow appearance which changes to a brownish-yellow as they ripen further. Although both flavor and texture of tree-ripened bananas is generally regarded as superior to any type of green-picked fruit, this reduces shelf life to only 7–10 days.

Bananas can be ordered by the retailer „ungassed”, and may show up at the supermarket fully green. „Guineo Verde”, or green bananas that have not been gassed will never fully ripen before becoming rotten. Instead of fresh eating, these bananas are best suited to cooking, as seen in Mexican culinary dishes.

Banana, raw, edible parts
Nutritional value per 100 g
Energy 371 kJ (89 kcal)
Carbohydrates 22.84 g
Sugars 12.23 g
Dietary fiber 2.6 g
Fat 0.33 g
Protein 1.09 g
Vitamin A equiv. 3 μg (0%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.031 mg (2%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.073 mg (5%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.665 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.334 mg (7%)
Vitamin B6 0.367 mg (28%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 20 μg (5%)
Vitamin C 8.7 mg (15%)
Calcium 5 mg (1%)
Iron 0.26 mg (2%)
Magnesium 27 mg (7%)
Phosphorus 22 mg (3%)
Potassium 358 mg (8%)
Zinc 0.15 mg (1%)
One banana is 100–150 g.
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.

P.S. Bananas are also humorously used as a phallic symbol due to similarities in size and shape. This is typified by the artwork of the debut album of  The Velvet Underground, which features a banana on the front cover, yet on the original LP version, the design allowed the listener to ‘peel’ this banana to find a pink phallus on the inside. No bull`s parts… 😉

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