Welcome to the cool banana hub. Thanks for visiting. Do you know that bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world? Not only are we good for you, but we’re also easy to peel, carry and eat and we’re nature’s most perfect snack food.
There’s more to us than just our cool crescent shape, smooth, yellow, soft, pliable skin and edible, seedless, creamy-white, sweet flesh. You'd better believe it!
Did you know we come in green and red colours too? Cool. And although most of us are about 20cm long and 4-5cm wide, we can be as short as 15cm (that's cool) or as long as 25cm (even cooler) – it just depends on our variety.
In Australia you can buy us all year round but we're most plentiful March and November.
At your local greengrocer we're sold by our variety, colour and use. Our biggest bunch is the Cavendish clan – you know, the long, thin yellow ones. . Then there's the Lady Fingers (they're short and plump) They're called dessert-type bananas because of their sweetness. Other dessert-type bananas are Ducasse (sounds like a great name for a cool car). Let me introduce you to them individually.
Cavendish (sold simply as Bananas!)
We are the most commonly sold banana in Australia. We're long (20-25cm) and thin (4-5cm) and our skin is green and turns yellow when ready to eat..
We're a sweet banana – you'll like us. When ready to eat, we have bright yellow skin and creamy flesh. We are small and squat, easy to peel and easy to eat. But we know that good things come in small parcels!
This variety is also known as Monkoy bananas and like miniature bananas, and are only 8-10 cm long. Thin skinned with a deliciously creamy, smooth and firm flesh.
Red types or Red Daccas
We're also new kids on the block and people say we have attitude because we're red, but we're just misunderstood. We're similar to yellow bananas except our skin is red and we have a very sweet red to pink flesh – we're a great dessert-type banana.
We're sold green and used as a vegetable and we're usually much longer and fatter than Cavendish, Lady Finger, and Red Dacca. We have a thick green skin and starchy flesh and are generally used in Asian cooking.
Our parent plants are palm-like, soft-stemmed herbs which can grow very tall. They are classed as herbs because they don't have a strong woody stem. They grow best in warm, humid conditions where there's good soil drainage. Although they are a long-lasting plant -each of their stems only flowers and bears fruit once.
After planting our parents will start to produce us in about 12-18 months.
We grow in layers in a large bunch of 150-200 bananas which hang down from the point where the leaves are attached to the banana plant. Each bunch is cut into hands of 10 or more bananas. There can be up to 16-20 hands per bunch.
We're harvested when we're mature but still green. This is because if we're allowed to ripen on the plant we tend to split and bruise easily. To protect us from damage and to help us grow, a plastic bag is placed over each new bunch as it appears.
We're harvested by hand and it usually takes two people working together to do this because each bunch weighs an average of 35-50 kilos. After harvest, the stems are cut down to make room for new growth.
Bananas are sent to markets across Australia where we're ripened in large storage rooms under controlled conditions. Ethylene gas, which is a natural gas given off by all ripening fruit, is used to ensure we ripen evenly.
It's best to select a range of us at different stages of ripeness. That way we won't all ripen at once, and make sure you choose those of us with shiny, unblemished skins.
Ripen us in a fruit bowl at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. When ripe we can be stored in your fridge. Our skins will turn black with the cold but our flesh will be unaffected.
In Australia, we're mostly grown in Queensland, northern New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and we have a long and interesting history in this country. Over 100 hundred years ago Chinese immigrants, who originally came to work in the Australian gold fields, used wild bananas growing around Innisfail and Cardwell in north Queensland to commence the first commercial plantings around 1883. Cultivated varieties were then brought in from Fiji and by 1890 the Cairns district had produced some 15 million bunches which represented over half of Queensland's production.
The plantations run by the Chinese had disappeared by the early 1900's but by this time the industry had become firmly established in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales. These two areas dominated production until the late 1970's. See Prime Growing Areas for where we're grown today.
Like I said, we are the best snack food so add us to your school lunch box, eat us before sport or after school for an sweet hit of energy.
Try these easy banana recipes from Sydney Markets: