Bananas are a popular snack and dessert in several countries around the world!
Technically a berry, this fruit is produced by several different types of flowering plants and grown in over 130 countries.
The Wild Banana
Though we may think of bananas as a certain size and color, there is actually some variation in the fruit! Typically, you’ll find that bananas are curved fruit with a rind that’s either green, yellow, red, purple, or brown. Inside, the flesh of the banana is soft and full of starch. All types of banana are known to grow in clusters at the top of their plants.
Modern seedless bananas are known to come from Musa acuminate and Musa balbisiana, two wild species of banana. These species are native to tropical locations, such as Indomalaya and Australia, though it’s thought that they were domesticated in Papua New Guinea.
Today, bananas are grown for their fruit as well as for fiber, banana wine, and banana beer. The two largest banana producers, with nearly 40% of worldwide production, are China and India.
Bananas Vs. Plantains
Though there isn’t really much of a difference between the banana and the plantain, you may see both. In the Americas and Europe, the term “banana” usually refers to softer, sweeter bananas – the kind that you’ll likely find in your local grocery store. In these regions, plantains are referred to as firmer, starchier fruit and may be used in a variety of more savory dishes.
However, because there are simply so many different varieties of banana in places like Southeast Asia, there isn’t necessarily a distinction made.
It’s important to note that “banana” is also used as the name for the plants that produce these fruits.
The Banana Plant
The largest herbaceous flowering plant, the banana plant is often mistaken for trees due to what looks like a trunk. However, this is actually the stem of the plant. The leaves of the banana plant have been and continue to be used for various fabrics and packing needs.
Most banana plants grow to about 16 feet tall.
The fruit itself develops in large hanging clusters. These clusters have tiers, or hands, which hold up to 20 bananas at a time. A bunch of bananas, therefore, may have anywhere from 3-20 tiers. It has a protective outer peel with long, stringy parts inside that protect the edible fruit flesh.
There are a variety of different types of banana that you may come across, including:
- Apple Bananas. These sweet fruits are grown in Hawaii and are typically used for snacking or desserts.
- Cavendish Bananas. These are the most common variety of banana, and the ones you’ll probably see in your local store. They are typically yellow and turn brown when they’re overripe.
- Lady’s Finger Bananas. These are smaller and sweeter than the Cavendish banana and are often used as snacks for kids.
- Pisang Raja. A banana that’s popular in Indonesia, this variety of the fruit is used to make banana fritters.
- Red Bananas. The red banana is on the sweeter side and can be eaten both as a snack and in various dishes.
- Cooking Bananas. As the name suggests, the cooking banana is great for being steamed, roasted, or fried like any starch-heavy veggie. They’re typically sold green and are best used while still green.
Of course, access to these different kinds of bananas will depend on where you are in the world and what kinds of markets you’re going to.
Ripe Banana Pudding
There are many ways to eat the banana – whether it be as a snack, dried, or in a mix of other fruits. There are plenty of really great dessert recipes that strive to use the banana as a centerpiece. One such dish? Banana pudding!
If you’re looking to make your own banana pudding, check out this recipe. You’ll need:
- 1 1/3 cups of milk
- 1 package of instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 3 cups of heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 box of vanilla wafer cookies
- 4 sliced bananas
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
You’ll love the sweet flavor and smooth texture of banana pudding!
A Symbolic Fruit
In addition to being a great snack and sweet treat, the banana has garnered quite a bit of symbolism throughout history. The symbolic meaning does vary from place to place, though several cultures have a similar outlook on the fruit.
It’s frequently used in pop-culture as an infamous reference to the male genitalia. Even in The Book of Genesis, in the Christian Bible, there is an image of Adam and Eve covering themselves with the leaves of the banana plant after tasting the forbidden fruit.
The Uses Of The Banana Leaf
Bananas are an incredibly popular fruit around the world. The leaves of the banana plant, however, are also pretty useful! In fact, banana leaves are flexible, waterproof, and often used as decoration in symbolic ceremonies. They can be used for cooking and wrapping food, as well as for clothing or shelter due to their waterproof properties.
Peel Open And Enjoy A Banana
A delicious and useful fruit, the banana has grown to become a staple of households around the world. With a vast history and continued pop-culture use, it’s clear that this popular berry is here to stay.