Sunday, November 28, 2010

Banana Perfection

I remember my father being happy to wait for bananas skins to go black before he ate them. He said they were so much sweeter! I have never been that ardent; but as a child it was normal to eat bright yellow bananas with a few small brown spots on the skin. I remember them as being sweet with a lovely creamy texture.

Today’s consumer has been conditioned to want perfection and not accept blemishes. Wholesalers and supermarkets now prefer to purchase food crop varieties that present in ‘perfect’ condition on the shelf, often at the expense of flavour. This relates to a staggering 30m bananas wasted per year because of blemishes or shape.

Minor blemishes on Banana skins don’t necessarily relate to damaged inedible fruit… and it could be more likely that they are sweeter. Chefs know this and outside a banana packing shed on a recent chef’s food tour of the regions, they spied a large pallet container full of bananas sitting out in the sun. When queried ‘what is to become of these bananas’? They were told they were seconds and would be thrown out. This surprised all the chefs as they would be happy to pay less for second grade bananas for ingredients of cakes, breads, desserts and smoothies. They didn’t need the skins to be perfect as they would only require first grade for a fruit display.

Unless treated roughly, those brown spots are a natural part of the ripening process. When purchasing bananas don’t discard a few spots and if you buy those ‘perfect’ green bananas, make sure you wait until they are optimally ripened. As a naturally hygienic sealed, easy to eat, highly nutritional fruit, a banana is a perfect snack food especially for children.

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