Bananas: the healthy yellow fruits
They taste baked, grilled, as a shake, in a smoothie and of course just plain. Bananas are a popular food and, moreover, a staple food for over 400 million people worldwide. But what exactly do we expose when we peel a banana?
Botanically, the banana fruit is one of the berries. With the varieties grown today, this can still be seen from the blackish rudiments of the ovules in the pulp. The wild forms, however, still have many hard, up to one centimeter large seeds in the flesh. The well-known and popular fruit or dessert banana Musa × paradisiaca is one of the most commonly cultivated species or hybrids of the banana family.
The fruits have a high content of carbohydrates, which are converted into sugar when ripened. This makes the banana a sweet and quickly available source of energy. They are also rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium as well as trace elements and vitamins, especially B vitamins. In addition to the high health value, bananas are easily digestible and have a calming effect on stomach and intestinal disorders. Therefore, they are also suitable for small children. Soluble and insoluble fiber promote digestion and regulate cholesterol.
Fruit bananas are mostly eaten fresh, for example as a snack or in fruit salads. You can find them processed in smoothies, ice cream, mixed milk drinks, puree, juice, liqueur or dried as chips. Plantains - also known as flour or vegetable bananas - on the other hand, do not taste sweet, since the starch they contain is not converted into sugar during ripening. You have to cook, steam, fry or deep-fry them. Alternatively, they can be dried and ground into flour, which can be used to make pastries or cakes. Due to their high starch content, plantains are used as basic food in their main growing countries in Africa.
Fruit bananas are mainly grown in the countries of Southeast Asia, South and Central America. The goods available from us mainly come from Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica. It is mostly Cavendish varieties that were originally characterized by resistance to the trigger of the so-called Panama disease, the fungus Fusarium oxysporium. However, breeds of the pathogen have developed further and are now threatening the Cavendish varieties, which make up over 40 percent of production and practically all exports worldwide. Infested plants wither and no longer produce fruit. The aim now is to breed new disease-resistant varieties or to replace the Cavendish monocultures with a larger variety of banana varieties.
For their growth, the banana plants need a uniformly humid climate, nutrient-rich soil and sufficient moisture. The plant is a perennial, the female flowers of which develop into ripe fruits within three months. An inflorescence develops from an inflorescence - a so-called "tuft" - with up to 300 bananas. The fruits are always harvested green and ripened specifically.
By the way: ripe bananas quickly get dark spots. Therefore, it is advisable to buy light green bananas and let them ripen. Depending on whether the fruit should ripen quickly or slowly, you can either place ethylene-releasing fruits such as apples in the vicinity, or to avoid them. Storage in the refrigerator is not recommended, as the skin turns brown and the aroma suffers. Heike Stommel, www.bzfe.de