Bananas

Bananas

Bananas originated in South East Asia and the Papua New Guinea region. There are even bananas native to the rainforests of north Queensland. They are the most important horticultural crop in tropical north Queensland and perhaps the best known of all tropical fruits. Chinese settlers introduced bananas into the region in the late 1800's and numerous varieties have been introduced since. The banana plant is actually an enormous herb and because of its continuous reproduction is regarded by Hindus as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. There is also a theory that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was a banana.

Characteristics

Bananas vary in shape, from curved to straight and from cylindrical to square. Their length varies from between 6 cm and 35 cm. The skin colour depends on the variety and can range from yellow to green and from blue to red. The flesh of bananas can vary in colour from white to orange.

Taste

The taste and texture of bananas varies depending on their variety and the stage of ripeness. For example, Cavendish is typical of a low-acid banana while the characteristic tang of the Lady Finger variety is due to its acid components.

Buying and Storing

Unlike some other fruits bananas will continue to ripen, particularly at room temperature. Storing bananas in a refrigerator will cause their skin to blacken, but this can be minimised by wrapping them in paper. When kept in a fruit bowl, bananas will hasten the ripening of other fruit because of the natural ethylene they produce. A great shopping tip is to buy a mix of bananas such as Cavendish to eat at the start of the week and long lasting Gold Fingers to get you through the weekend. This way you can enjoy ripe Australian bananas every day.

Preparing and Serving

Bananas are the original fast food! They can be peeled and eaten fresh or cooked. Ripe bananas are delicious and can be used in smoothies, milkshakes, fruit salads, cakes and sweet or savoury dishes. For a treat, try coating fresh, frozen or dried bananas in melted chocolate. Dried bananas make an excellent food for lunches and outdoor activities. If the fruit is sliced but is not being eaten immediately, brush with lemon to prevent discolouration.

For fresh fruit salads, Lady Finger, Ducasse and Goldfinger are best because they hold their natural colour and do not darken.

Bananas can be stored by freezing or drying. Peeled bananas can be frozen and stored in a freezer bag for up to six months.

Graceville Community Garden Bananas

Listed from north to south as they are planted

1 Lady Finger 3.5 – 5.5m account for around 14% of Australia’s production. This sweet banana has a delicate flavour and is favoured by consumers looking for a smaller snack. They are ideal for fruit salads and decorating desserts, as they do not brown when cut.

Allow them to become fully ripe before using to enjoy their maximum flavour, unripe Lady Fingers will taste dry and starchy. Brown flecks on the skin that has also become quite thin indicate mature ripeness and sweet flavour.

2 Blue Java 3 – 4m

The Blue Java (also known as Ice Cream banana, Hawaiian banana, Ney Mannan, Krie, or Cenizo) is a hardy, cold tolerant and known for its sweet aromatic fruit, which is said to have an Ice Cream like consistency and flavour reminiscent of vanilla.

In Hawaii it is known as the 'Ice Cream banana' and in Fiji as the 'Hawaiian banana'. Blue Java bananas can grow to a height of 15 feet to 20 feet. They are cold tolerant and tall bananas, are wind resistant because of their strong pseudo stems and root systems. The leaves are silvery green in colour.

The fruit bunches are small, bearing seven to nine hands. The fruit are 7 to 9 inches in length and exhibit a characteristic silvery blue colour when unripe. The fruit turn a pale yellow when ripe, with white creamy flesh. They bloom around 15 to 24 months after planting and can be harvested after 115 to 150 days.

Blue Java bananas are popular bananas that can be eaten fresh or cooked. They are known for their fragrant fruit that taste like vanilla custard. The fruit goes well with ice cream.

They are also popular as ornamentals and shade plants for their unusual blue coloration, large size, and tolerance to temperate climates.

3 Pisang Ceylan 3 – 4.5m

The 'Pisang Ceylon' grows 10-20 ft. tall, is an improvement of the Mysore Banana Plant. The leaves of the 'Pisang Ceylon' has maroon and black markings. It is very cold hardy, has high quality sweet-fleshed fruit and is the number one variety in India.

Pisang Ceylan is a table-type banana, and is silk type with round fruits. The fingers are persistent and do not easily fall off from the hand. The fruit peel is yellow at mature stage, peels off easily, the flesh is yellow when ripe, and the pulp has sweet predominant taste.

Pisang Ceylan, also known as Pisang Keling, is a dessert type primitive cultivar. The vigorous tall plant.

4 Bluggoe 3 – 4m Green banana – boil or mash like potatoes, or deep fry like chips

Plantains, large green bananas are popular in Asian and African cooking and are often used as an alternative to potatoes or rice. Check out Asian grocers for this non-sweet variety.

Ripe Ducasse and Plantains each give cake and sweets cooking a superior texture and taste.

5 Ducasse 4 – 5m also known as a "sugar banana" because of its sweet taste. Its exquisite flavour makes the Ducasse a great addition to fruit salads, cakes and muffins. The Ducasse is a fantastic banana for cooking as it does not brown when cut and remains firm when cooked.

The Ducasse bells (male buds) are also sold in Asian markets and are cooked as a vegetable.
Ducasse bananas must be let to ripen fully before eating. Fruit are lime green when picked and gradually ripen to a lemon yellow colour. All green must have turned to yellow, even on the stem. Brown marks/patches and a thin skin indicate maturity. The pulp will remain firm, light cream and delicately sweet. Fruit may be refrigerated now.

A native of Thailand, Ducasse was introduced to northern Australia in the 1800's by the Chinese who also use this banana in religious offerings.. Ducasse has long been the most popular banana for planting in North Queensland backyards due to its strong resistance to tropical fungal leaf diseases.

6 Goldfinger 2.7 – 4m

This new variety is a popular choice for once a week shoppers as it lasts longer. Gold Finger does not brown when cut and tastes like a cross between a Cavendish and a Lady Finger. Although production has decreased, it is available at major supermarkets.

7 Red Dacca

A plump red banana! The variety with its creamy delicate orange/pink flesh is perfect for the old favourites like banana smoothies. Red Daccas are cooked in their skin on the barbeque. Red Dacca may not come in the traditional yellow packaging but this unusual.