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Tagalog (Filipino):

Banana tree photo.
Banana tree
Malatapay market.
Malatapay Market
Mixed bananas.
Mixed Bananas

Bananas are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, skin colors and flavors. They can be as short as 3 inches and as long as 18 inches. The flavor ranges from sweet and mild to slightly acidic. The texture can be dense and moist to floury. The fragrance ranges from almost odorless to strongly perfumed. There are two general types: sweet (dessert) bananas, which are usually eaten raw, and a starchier type sometimes called plantains, which are always cooked.

Bananas are native to tropical Asia and can still be found growing wild in some places. The wild bananas are full of hard seeds and are inedible. Domesticated bananas are high in food value, containing vitamins (B & C) and minerals (potassium). The dessert bananas are generally eaten raw, but can also be used in bread or cakes. The skin of the immature banana is generally green, becoming yellow as it ripens. When it begins to show brown spots, it is getting over-ripe.

The plantains, or cooking bananas, are often treated as a vegetable. Green plantains are very hard, not sweet, and barely banana flavored. They can be cooked like potatoes, in their skins. Yellow plantains are half-ripe. When cooked as above, the flesh will be creamy and have a delicate banana taste. When the skins become dark brown or black, the plantains should be cooked like a banana, the flesh is slightly firmer than a banana. Plantains can be added to curries or stews. They can also be battered and deep fried. In Thailand, the batter may be made of rice flour and coconut milk. In the Philippines, ripe plantains are often sliced, sprinkled with sugar, and pan fried in a little oil.

Other parts of the tree are also used. The flower bud, or heart, can be eaten (we enjoyed it chopped, seasoned with ginger and peppers, and cooked in coconut milk.) We seldom see the flower buds in the markets, but we saw a few of them in Laos. The center of the stem can be made into a soup (called mohinga in Burma). The leaves are used to wrap a variety of steamed or baked foods and they are frequently used as a disposable plate. We have also seen people in the Philippines cut a large banana leaf to use as an improvised umbrella during an unexpected heavy rain.

Market and storage tips — Bananas are picked green and ripened off the tree. They could take anything up to a week or 10 days to ripen. When provisioning for a passage, it is wise to select bananas of mixed ages so that they ripen a few at a time. Avoid bananas with soft spots or mold around the stalk. Banana bunches provide a hiding place for spiders, centipedes, mice, and small snakes. Submerge them in water for a few minutes before bringing them aboard the boat. This should drive out the unwanted critters. Cut the bunches into hands and store them in a cool, dark place. To accelerate ripening, place bananas in an open paper bag on deck in the sun. Do not refrigerate until the banana is ripe. (Refrigeration will not harm ripe bananas, but will cause their skin to turn dark quickly.)


Banana  |   Coconut  |   Custard apple  |   Dragon Fruit  |   Duku/Langsat

Durian  |   Jack Fruit  |   Lime  |   Mango  |   Mangosteen

Melon  |   Papaya  |   Pineapple  |   Rambutan  |   Salak

Sapodilla  |   Soursop  |   Star apple  |   Star Fruit  |   Water apple



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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
Website designed and created by Lois Richter, expanded by Jim.
Created 6/2003. All photos are © 2003 by Jim Richter.