Region of Origin

Commodity:

Banana

Origin

Botanically, bananas are the berry of a tree that looks like a palm but is actually a huge herb with a woody stem. The bananas (called “fingers”) grow from a hanging stem in groups (called “hands”) that together form a large bunch. The first bananas were full of seeds and contained very little flesh, but today’s cultivated varieties have been bred for seedlessness and you will rarely find a seed. ...

Other Names

Dessert Banana, Plátano (Spanish)

Health Benefits & Nutrition

Bananas are an exceptionally nutritious food. They contain high amounts of iron and potassium, making them beneficial for those suffering from anemia or the risk of high blood pressure. They contain high amounts of vitamin B, vitamin C, fiber, and magnesium and have trace amounts of phosphorus, calcium, zinc, cooper, and selenium. They are considered an excellent source of the amino acid tryptophan, as well as vitamin B6, which both help the body produce serotonin. Bananas have little fat and are low in calories. The average cavendish banana contains about 95 calories.

Varieties

Baby Banana

AKA: Sucrier, Lady’s Finger Banana, Mini Banana, Niño Banana, Fig Banana, Pisang Mas (Malaysia), Kluay Leb Mue Nang (Thailand), Bocadillo (Colombia), Titiaro (Venezuala), Oritos (Ecuador)

Description

Baby bananas are a subgroup of dessert bananas that produce the smallest fruits, about 1/3 the size of a typical Cavendish. They originate from Malaysia, but are now popular across Southeast Asia and Latin America. They have thin skin and very sweet flesh, and are popular for their petite snack size.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Baby bananas are ripe and ready to eat when soft and speckled with brown or black. Their peel should easily slip right off.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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COLOMBIA
Fair
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ECUADOR
Fair
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HONDURAS
Fair
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Burro Banana

AKA: Orinoco, Bluggoe, Chunky Banana, Horse Banana, Hog Banana

Description

Burro bananas are about six inches long with a curved shape similar to the cavendish, but flatter and squarer. Their peel is vivid, dark green when immature, and deep yellow with black spots after it ripens. The flesh has a creamy texture and varies in color from white to yellow depending on maturity. When young, this banana has tart and tangy flavors with notes of apple and lime. As the fruit overripens, the yellow flesh becomes soft on the outside with a slightly-crisp textured center. This banana is prized for its lemon-like flavor and creamy sweetness.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Burro bananas are known as a dual-purpose variety. They can be enjoyed fresh when fully ripe (50% black) or used green like a plantain and incorporated into both sweet and savory preparations.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
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Aug
Sep
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COLOMBIA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
ECUADOR
Fair
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Fair
Fair
Fair
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MEXICO
Fair
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Fair

Cavendish Banana

AKA: Yellow Banana

Description

Cavendish bananas are the most common variety of banana found at supermarkets around the developed world. Produced on huge plantations, the cavendish variety was selected for its incredible consistency and resistance to a common and fatal fungal disease affecting bananas, Panama Disease. Their thick yellow peel surrounds a creamy, white-colored flesh that’s firm and astringent when immature, becoming softer and sweeter as it ripens. The cavendish banana is exceptionally mild with only very light tropical notes. The eating experience is dominated by the creamy texture and simple sweetness.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Cavendish bananas are known as the “fresh-eating banana” because they are most commonly enjoyed raw. Because of their mildness, they are also considered a standard among dessert bananas; just slice or mash the flesh and incorporate it into various desserts.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
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COLOMBIA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
COSTA RICA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
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Good
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ECUADOR
Good
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Good
Good
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GUATEMALA
Good
Good
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HONDURAS
Good
Good
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Good
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Green Banana

AKA: Cookers, Cooking Bananas, Guineos Verde (Caribbean)

Description

Green bananas are unripe cavendish-type bananas that have been specially grown and harvested in order to resist the ripening process through the supply chain. They are an important part of Caribbean cooking, especially Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, alongside their cousin, the starchy plantain. Green bananas must be cooked before they can be consumed, as they are very starchy. Their flavor is mild, but hearty.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Use green bananas quickly to prevent any unwanted ripening. They can be stored in a warm area of the refrigerator to slow the ripening process. Excellent in hearty Caribbean stews, tostones, and traditional pasteles.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
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Sep
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COLOMBIA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
COSTA RICA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
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ECUADOR
Good
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Good
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GUATEMALA
Good
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HONDURAS
Good
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Good

Manzano Banana

AKA: Latundan, Apple Banana, Silk Banana, Pisang Rastali (Malaysia), Tundan (Phillippines)

Description

The manzano banana is a stubby, thick-skinned, golden yellow fruit that is commonly known as the “apple banana” due to its apple-like aftertaste. It is one of the most popular dessert bananas in the Philippines. This variety is short, plump, and finger-sized. It’s exceptionally sweet and very fragrant.

Variety Tips & Tricks

These small bananas are sweetest when the skin turns completely black, but they can be eaten when 50-100% black.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
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Sep
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COLOMBIA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
ECUADOR
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
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Good
Good

Red Banana

AKA: Red Dacca, Jamaican Red, Cuban Red, Macaboo

Description

Red bananas are a group of small, plump banana cultivars with deep red skin that is especially popular in the Caribbean and Central America. They are creamy, soft, and very sweet when ripe, with hints of raspberry. Compared to other banana varieties, its flesh is packed with extra vitamin C and beta-carotene, which converts into the essential nutrient, vitamin A.

Variety Tips & Tricks

To tell when red bananas are ripe, wait until the skin darkens to deep burgundy, almost black, and – most importantly – wait until the banana is soft, a bit softer than you would want a cavendish to be.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
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COLOMBIA
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
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Fair
Fair
COSTA RICA
Fair
Fair
Fair
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Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
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ECUADOR
Fair
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HONDURAS
Fair
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Thai Banana

AKA: Gluay Naam Waa/Kluay Nam Wah (Thailand), Pisang Awak (Malaysia), Bulkan (Thailand)

Description

There are more than 50 varieties of banana grown in Thailand, but the only one currently available in the US is the gluay naam waa, one of Thailand’s most common varieties. This short, stubby, sturdy banana is a dual-purpose banana: it is often used when green for cooking, but can also be eaten when ripe as a dessert banana. The flesh is dense and sticky with an almost bubblegum-like flavor. They may occasionally have seeds. They are usually shipped with the central stem of the hand still intact.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Use unripe Thai bananas as soon as possible, as they are quick to ripen. In Thailand, they are often fried when green. If you are planning to use them ripe, wait until they are fully yellow with about 50% blackening.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

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MEXICO
Good
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Good

Foodservice Tips

Traditional Culinary Uses

Bananas are the world’s most consumed fruit. Some varieties are consumed as “dessert” bananas, meaning they are eaten when sweet and ripe. Others are eaten as cooking bananas when green, starchy, and underripe. Some varieties can be eaten either way! Dessert bananas are typically eaten out of hand or used to make fritters or other sweets. In East and Central Africa, sweet bananas are even used to make beer or wine. Cooking bananas are a staple food throughout the tropics and play a central role in a huge range of stews, soups, sides, and fried dishes.

Flavor Pairings

Pineapple, Apple, Guava, Mango, Stone Fruit, Berry, Citrus, Mint, Lemongrass, Chiles, Nuts, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Granola, Chocolate, Vanilla, Caramel, Yogurt, Cream, Bacon, Black Beans, Chicken, Pork

How to Store & Use in the Kitchen

Green bananas meant for cooking should be stored as close to 56°F as possible, but not under, and used as soon as possible. Keep away from any other ripening bananas or other ethylene-producing fruit to avoid ripening. Dessert bananas can be stored at room temperature. To slow ripening, ensure bananas are stored in a cool place with good airflow. To speed ripening, bananas can be stored in a paper or plastic bag.

 

To use dessert bananas, just peel the skin back. Green bananas can be boiled whole before peeling so it is easier to remove the skin. Bananas can be frozen whole or peeled.

Fight Food Waste Tips for root to stem cooking

Don’t throw away that peel! Banana peels contain antioxidant phenolics, antibacterial compounds, bioactive carotenoids, and anti-inflammatory properties. Some suggest they can be used to whiten teeth, relieve sunburns, reduce wrinkles, fade acne scars, shine hair, polish leather, or fertilize a garden. The peels are also edible – deep fry or candy and turn into a fun vegan bacon substitute.

Warehouse Storage & Handling

Maintain these conditions for optimal short-term storage shelf life.*

IDEAL STORAGE TEMP:

56-58°F

RECOMMENDED TEMP STORAGE ZONE:

55-60°F (Warm Storage)

SUBJECT TO CHILLING INJURY:

Yes - bananas are very sensitive to cold temps and can suffer when stored at 55°F and below. Symptoms include discoloration and failure to properly ripen.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY:

90-95%

PRODUCES ETHYLENE:

Yes-High - bananas produce more ethylene as they ripen.

SENSITIVE TO ETHYLENE:

Yes-High

ETHYLENE RECOMMENDATIONS:

Bananas should be kept far from any products sensitive to ethylene. Cooking bananas should NOT be stored near ripening bananas.

RIPENS AFTER HARVEST:

Yes

PROFESSIONAL RIPENING RECOMMENDED:

Yes – professional conditioning is required for bananas to properly ripen.

Quality Assessment

Bananas should be free from major scarring and insect injury, but some brown or black spotting is normal in non-cavendish varieties.

Important Handling Notes

Bananas are a finicky fruit. Be sure to store in an area with good ventilation and prevent exposure to ethylene and fluctuating temperatures. Green bananas should be stored as close to 56°F as possible.

 

They are susceptible to bruising if handled roughly. Note that certain varieties are meant to be consumed when totally black, with almost no trace of yellow remaining. Buy fruit at the appropriate stages and avoid holding inventory or attempting tricky DIY backroom ripening.

Optimum Shelf Life

Depending on variety, conditions at harvest, and handling, bananas may last 2-4 weeks.

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