Bananas | A Better Choice

Bananas are nutritious, delicious and convenient. Their unique shape makes them a perfect snack for on-the-go that offers up energy to get through your day. They’re also ideal for being used in smoothies or in baking.

The ‘tree’ is actually a giant herb, and each stem flowers and bears fruit only once. New suckers perpetuate the life of the root knoll (corm). A sucker unfolds a fixed number of leaves before fruiting occurs. The flower stem is pushed from the corm, through the stem and emerges at amazing speed. Under each flower leaf, one hand of bananas emerges.

The male part of the banana (the bell) that hangs below the bunch marginally assists in the development of the bunch. In commercial varieties the male flower is sterile. An average bunch will have 8 hands of 15 bananas.

Nearly all bananas are commercially ripened and people buying the fruit can often get them in a semi-coloured state that will ripen within a matter of days. For ripe bananas, look for bright yellow skin with green tips at each end and free from bruising.

Bananas can be termed the perfect snack food or the basis for a complete meal. They are extremely versatile. Try them in a range of dishes from simple salads to tantalising desserts. Bananas complement chicken, pork and veal and are delicious barbecued.

For a quick snack, serve banana and ham jaffles or for a sweeter version, banana, coconut and sultana jaffles. Bananas can be frozen on a stick, wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer for a quick delicious snack on a hot day. Use ripe bananas mashed for use in cakes, scones, hotcakes, pies and milkshakes. Discover just how quick and easy food preparation can be with versatile bananas.

In southern areas, banana plantations are usually situated on fairly steep hillsides to get above frost level and away from severe cold. Generally these slopes face north or northeast so as to maximise to exposure to the winter sun. In northern parts of Australia growing on hillsides are not required because of the warm humid conditions are ideal for bananas. Bananas grow best in deep alluvial soil and good soil drainage and aeration is essential. Bananas have a considerable requirement for water so that when rainfall is insufficient, irrigation is practised.

Evidence indicates that bananas are one of the oldest fruits known to mankind and also probably one of the first fruits to be cultivated. Their original place of origin is believed to have been the moist tropical region of southern Asia. From here, bananas spread into southern China and the Indian subcontinent. As long ago as 327 B.C., Alexander the Great is credited with discovering them flourishing in India.

Despite the banana’s long history, only a century ago they were still considered a rare, exotic and wonderful delicacy. The first shipments arriving in the United States from Central America attracted hundreds of curious onlookers. Today the banana is perhaps one of the most popular fruits, establishing itself in the eating habits of many countries with ease and rapidity.

Botanical Name: Musa spp. (Musaceae)

Alternative Names: Sugar Banana

Health Benefits

Their high potassium content makes them perfect snacks for long-lasting energy throughout their day. With zero fat and cholesterol, bananas make great additions to your breakfast meal. 100g of banana offers the following:

  • Vitamin A – 1% of DV
  • Vitamin C – 14% of DV
  • Iron – 1% of DV
  • Vitamin B-6 – 20% of DV
  • Magnesium – 6% of DV
  • Potassium – 10% of DV

Selecting tips

  • The riper and browner your bananas are, the more intense their sweetness and flavour will be.
  • Wait a few days for your green banana to ripen. The yellow skin will gradually turn brown and soft.
  • A banana skin should have a few black spots, and feel soft but firm when lightly pressed.

Storage tips

  • Bananas are best kept at room temperature (avoid refrigerating).
  • They should last for about one week.

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