FRESH FACT:  Bananas (much like money) do NOT grow on trees. Related to the lily and orchid, the banana plant is actually a giant herb that produces edible fruit, known to reach 9m in height, it is the world’s largest perennial plant without a woody stem.

 

The banana is one of the most well known and easily recognisable fruits in Australia- we even have a really big one as a landmark up near Coffs Harbour. It’s not hard to understand why we’re so enamoured with the fruit, it is a healthy snack that is convenient to eat, tasty and affordable. But how can this everyday favourite dessert style fruit translate onto the menu? Today we’re taking a broader look at bananas, going beyond the dessert fruit to banana products that are lesser known yet, valuable in the kitchen. As an overgrown herb, the banana plant itself deserves some attention as the blossoms and leaves have their own unique flavour, character and purpose. Or for something different, why not include plantain (or cooking bananas) on the menu, found in Cuban, Caribbean cuisine they are a fabulous alternative to root vegetables being both versatile and interesting.

 

PLANTAIN BANANAS: aka Cooking Bananas

Image: www.specialtyproduce.com

Availability: all year

Use: used as a vegetable, popular in Caribbean, Mexican and Asian cuisine

Appearance: firm fruit with a thick green skin, they are longer and fatter than sweet bananas (Cavendish etc) .

Flavour: less sugar, more starch- these bananas boast a taste and texture somewhat similar to a potato, getting sweeter as they ripen

Preparation: must be cooked- can be fried, boiled, baked, pickled, sautéed, mashed and stewed

 

BANANA BUD/BELL/BLOSSOM:

www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year

Use: the banana heart within the bud can be prepared like a vegetable and adds wonderful texture to dishes

Appearance: unopened, crimson red-purple bud

Flavour: rich, creamy, nutty flavour, however the stamens of the flowers inside can lend it a sharp/bitter edge

Preparation: once cut drizzle use lemon/lime mix to prevent discolouration. To soften the sometimes astringent edge, the heart is often soaked/steamed before use- then grilled, chopped into salads

 

BANANA ARMS:

image: www.uq.edu.au

Availability: all yearplease note there is a minimum 7 day turnaround for orders of banana arms

Use: highly ornamental

Appearance: green dessert bananas still attached to the

Flavour: the bananas on the arm are Cavendish, therefore dessert bananas

 

LADYFINGER BANANAS: aka sugar bananas

Image: wwww.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year

Use: dessert banana

Appearance: short banana with a very thin skin

Flavour: very sweet

Preparation: eat fresh or sliced into desserts, salads etc

 

BANANA LEAVES:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Available: all year

Appearance: bright green, ridged leaves

Use: ornamental or wrapping food into a parcel that is to be grilled, steamed, boiled

Flavour: not eaten but lend a flavour to the food they wrap/contain

Preparation: pass over a flame (heat source) before using as a wrap as this will make them more hardy and prevent them from tearing.

INSPIRED PRODUCE:

Grilled chicken and banana flower salad via SBS Food – see full recipe here

Image: SBS Food

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