[NAFEX] Choosing Bananas

Don Yellman don.yellman at webformation.com
Fri Sep 12 15:35:33 EDT 2008


I spent a couple of years in one of the world's most productive banana growing regions, the southeast coast of Ecuador.  One of my jobs was "banana officer";  gathering statistics and crop infomation and supporting the U.S. exporter, which at the time was Standard Fruit Co.  In the early 70's, bananas were still Ecuador's No. 1 export, and they were the world's largest exporter.  I frequently visited growing areas in the Province of Machala, south of Guayaquil where I was stationed, talked to growers and attended banana fairs where the competition was to grow the heaviest stalk.  As I recall, the champ at one fair weighed 242 pounds.

Bananas are picked very green and hard as a rock, but the shape is fully developed.  This is necessary for them to endure their long journey in banana boats all the way to your supermarket without bruising.  Even though they look like they would never ripen and sweeten up, all of them do.  Bananas shipped yellow with brown speckles would be mush by the time they reached you.

When you want to eat all your bananas right away, buying them yellow with speckles is fine.  But it's downhill very quickly after that.  If you buy a large hand intending to eat them over a period of days, it is better to buy them green, or, better yet, a mix of green and yellow.  The green bananas will all ripen up if you just wait few days, and will end up with exactly the same quality and sweetness as the yellow models.

Your 9-year old girl seemed to understand this instinctively.  Good for her.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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