February 12, 2008

Bananas Revisited

We've looked at this banana recipe pamphlet before, as well as others from the United Fruit Company. We've even looked at one on plantains.

I was drawn to A Study of the Banana again today. It has several interesting illustrations that I didn't show previously.

This photo shows a stem of bananas still on the plant. It's a little dark, but you get the idea.

Here's what the booklet has to say about bananas before they're harvested:

Each banana plant grows from fifteen to thirty feet in height and bears but one stem, or bunch of fruit. When that is harvested, the plant is cut down and allowed to rot and fertilize the soil for new plants growing from the same rootstock.

The fruit grows with fingers up (each individual banana is called a finger). Bananas are harvested green, even when they are to be eaten in the locality in which they are grown. This is necessary because if allowed to tree-ripen, the majority of the skins break open and the pulp is attacked by insects. Even those bananas which reach full ripeness without splitting, have a pulp which is mealy and practically tasteless.
This photo shows a man with at least six already-harvested stems loaded on his donkey and his own shoulder. He's transporting them from the field back to wherever he takes them. I wonder if this scene looks much different today than back then.

Here's a photo of the bananas back at the wholesale house. I wonder what this climate-controlled storage looks like today.

"Banana ripening rooms in wholesale houses are "weather-controlled." Temperature
and moisture are carefully guarded to bring the green banana through its early
ripening stages."
Here we have a visual aid for the three stages of ripening:

Yellow with green tip: The peel of the banana acts as a color guide to tell us when the fruit is ripe. When the peel is yellow, except for a green tip, the pulp is firm and somewhat starchy. When green tipped, bananas should not be eaten raw, but should be left at room temperature to become completely ripe. Or they may be cooked in many tempting ways. Cooking makes them thoroughly digestible and brings out a rich, distinctive flavor.

(When starchy foods are cooked, the starch grains are broken up, the starch is liberated from the cells and the digestive juices of the body can act upon them more effectively.)

Yellow ripe: In the next stage, yellow ripe, when all trace of green has disappeared and all the peel is yellow, by far the largest part of the starch has become sugar. The fruit has a delicious flavor, is readily digested and is still firm enough for cooking.

Fully ripe: - Yellow with brown flecks: At this fully ripe stage practically all the starch has been converted into sugar and the flavor has developed to its highest delicacy. The pulp has softened and is thoroughly digestible.
The rear cover takes the cartoon approach with three easy rules to help the stages of ripening along with suggestions for serving at each of the stages. The banana is best used for cooking during the first two stages and for eating in the third stage.

This illustration demonstrates how to flute a banana to make it more attractive for your desserts and salads:

This illustration demonstrates how to bake a banana:

To Bake - Peeled: Peel bananas. Use whole, or cut into halves or quarters. Arrange in a shallow baking dish. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a moderate oven (375° F.) until bananas are tender. Allow 12 to 18 minutes for whole bananas or crosswise halves. Allow 8 to 12 minutes for quarters or lengthwise halves. Serve very hot.

To Bake - Unpeeled: Cut of both ends of each banana. Make a lengthwise split with a sharp knife through the skin of the banana. Bake in a moderate oven (375° F.) for 15 to 20 minutes or until skins are dark and bananas are soft to the touch. Separate the peel and season with butter and salt, if desired. Serve very hot.

1/2 cup diced canned pineapple (about 2 slices)
3 ripe bananas, diced
1-1/2 cups canned salmon
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped pickle
Mayonnaise to moisten

Drain pineapple well. Mix together bananas and pineapple. Add salmon from which bones and skin have been removed. Stir in remaining ingredients except lemon. Garnish with lemon slices or greens. Six to eight servings.


1 ripe banana
Chopped peanuts
Salad greens

Peel and cut banana crosswise into halves. Split each half lengthwise and spread open as a fan. Place banana on a salad plate. Sprinkle cut surfaces with peanuts. Garnish with greens. Serve with mayonnaise or cream dressing. One individual serving.

Can't figure out how to work bananas into your meal plan? Here are some suggestions from the pamphlet:

Roast Beef
Banana Fritters
Creamed Cauliflower
Boiled Greens

Banana Fritters
Baked Apple
Baked Squash
Buttered Spinach garnished with firm-cooked Egg

Lamb Chops
Banana Scallops
Creamed Peas
Pickled Beets or Celery

Baked Halibut
Baked Bananas
Buttered Peas
Sliced Tomatoes

Baked Ham
Baked Bananas
Baked Eggplant
Cranberry Sauce

Fried Fish
Banana Scallops
Creamed Peas
Cole Slaw

Fish Cakes
Broiled Bananas
Buttered Green Beans
Stewed Tomatoes

Pork Chops
Broiled Bananas
Buttered Beets
Apple Sauce

Baked Corned Beef Hash
Baked Bananas
Baked Tomatoes

Meat Pie
Banana Scallops
Buttered String Beans
Cole Slaw


At 5:28 PM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

When it comes to the ripeness of a banana, I usually wing it, but this is very practical information. These old publications had a lot of good advice, while today we are often left to our own devices.

At 8:31 AM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

And when it gets too many specks, it's time for banana bread!


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