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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Know your Fruits - Banana

Bananas are a type of commonly eaten fruit and the herbaceous plant of the genus Musa (family Musaceae), which are cultivated primarily for food and secondarily for the production of fibers including ornamental purposes.
Each individual fruit has a protective outer layer (a peel / skin) with a fleshy edible inner portion. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. Bananas are classified either as dessert bananas (yellow and fully ripe when eaten) or as green cooking bananas.
Bananas can be eaten raw (both skin and inner part) though some varieties are generally cooked first.
  • In Western cultures, the inside is eaten raw and the skin is discarded.
  • In some Asian cultures, both the skin and the inside pulp are eaten cooked.
  • In most tropical countries, green (unripe) bananas are either fried, boiled, baked or chipped.
  • In addition to the fruit, the flower of the banana plant (banana blossom / banana heart) is used in Southeast Asian and Indian (Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, and Kerala) cuisine, either served raw with dips or cooked in soups and curries.
  • The tender core of the banana plant's trunk is also used in Indian (Telugu, Bengali and Kerala) cuisine, including Burmese cuisine.
  • Bananas fried with batter, is a popular dessert in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
  • Banana fritters served with ice cream is another popular dish.
  • Bananas are also eaten deep fried, baked in their skin in a split bamboo, or steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf, a popular dish in Burma.
Selecting Bananas:
  • Bananas are usually harvested when green and ranges from green to yellow, with brown spots.
  • Bananas should be quite firm & bright in appearance and the peel should not be crushed / cut.
  • Their stems and tips should be intact.
  • Green bananas last more.
  • Yellow and brown-spotted bananas should be consumed within 2-3 days.
Storage of Bananas:
  • It best advised to store bananas at room temperature to complete the ripening process.
  • Do not store green bananas in the refrigerator as it interrupts the ripening process (below 8 degrees Celsius, the fruits will not ripen and will turn black).
  • Ripe bananas can be stored in the refrigerator (peel may become brown, but the pulp will not be affected).
  • Place the banana in a paper wrap (to allow air) with an apple if you need to hasten the ripening process.
  • Bananas can be stored for over 1 month, if freezed. Remove the peel, sprinkle some lemon juice over the pulp (to prevent discoloration) and then freeze in plastic wraps.
Commonly available varieties of Bananas:
  • Red bananas: bananas with green/red peel and pink fruit flesh and taste like yellow bananas. The redder a fruit, the more carotene it contains, known to be healthier than other yellow vaieties
  • Fruit-bananas: normal, yellow bananas (15-30 cm)
  • Apple-bananas: smaller, yellow bananas (8-10 cm), known for faster ripening process
  • Baby-banana (pisang susa): yellow banana (6-8 cm) and sweetest of the banana family
  • Baking bananas: large, green, yellow or red banana (30-40 cm), generaly cooked and not eaten raw.

Health benefits:

Banana is one of the healthiest of fruits and a valuable source of protien & fibre content including vitamins (Vitamin B6, Vitamin C) and minerals (potassium, sodium etc.)
  • High fibre, potassium and sodium content in bananas helps to prevent high blood pressure.
  • High potassium may also prevent renal calcium loss (bone breakdown).
  • In diarrhoea, it works as electrolyte replacement and improves nutrition absorption.
  • Bananas also known to protect from peptic ulcers.
  • Pectin content helps in curing constipation by normalizing movement through the intestine.
  • Carotenoid content has antioxidant effects and protects against night blindness (Vitamin A deficiency).
  • The low glycemic index in unripe bananas is of particular benefit to people with diabetes.
  • Regular consumption of bananas minimizes the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. | Modified by Malini