The banana is a mildly sweet tropical fruit related to the starchy plantain.
Bananas are always picked green. When green, they have a "green" taste somewhat like kiwifruit. Banana ripening is triggered by ethylene gas, and causes the release of ethylene gas. Most types of fruit will ripen when placed in a bag with ripening bananas. As bananas ripen, they turn yellow and then get brown spots that eventually merge to make the banana completely dark brown. A banana is generally best from immediately after the spots appear until the spots begin to merge, but this is a matter of personal preference. Firm is better for eating out of hand or in fresh fruit recipes, softer and riper is generally better for baking.
Bananas are very easy to bruise. Bruises will make a banana brown and mushy on the inside.
Refrigeration causes the outside of the peel to turn dark prematurely. Frozen bananas can be eaten as a treat (coated in chocolate), or defrosted for baking.
Dried banana chips are often available. Choose brown ones (without sulfur dioxide) if you can find them.
The banana is a rich source of potassium. The banana helps prevent both constipation and diarrhoea.
Bananas are relatively high in calories (a medium-sized banana has about 110 calories). But they are a nutrient-dense food, contributing to a healthy diet by providing not only potassium but also calcium, carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6, etc.
If substitution is desired, use pawpaws instead of bananas. Pawpaws are generally more nutritious than bananas.
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Bananas are a typical non-seasonal fruit, which means they are available fresh all year. They are usually grown in tropical countries.