Bananas are the edible fruit produced by various flowering plants in the Musa genus. The wild species of banana plants are called Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
Bananas grow in clusters hanging from the tops of the plants, and they are usually curved in shaped and elongated. Bananas contain a starch-rich flesh covered with a rind (skin). Bananas can be yellow, green, brown, red and purple.
In Western countries, a distinction is made between bananas (soft, sweet, yellow or green in colour, and usually eaten raw) and plantains (firm and starchy, usually cooked). In other parts of the world, however, because many different types of bananas are eaten, both raw and cooked, the distinction isn’t made.
Where Are Bananas Grown?
Most bananas are grown in Africa (particularly West Africa), Central America, South America and Asia.
Countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, St Lucia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroon are some of the key exporters of bananas to the United States and Europe.
India produces nearly 20% of the world’s bananas, but these are mostly consumed by the Indian population.
- Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, and they also contain vitamin C and potassium.
- They are a staple food for many tropical populations.
- They can be eaten raw, dried, deep fried, baked in their skin, steamed, made into jam, and used to make beer and wine.
- Banana leaves are very large and flexible. They are often used as disposable plates in some Asian countries, and food is often wrapped in a banana leaf before it is steamed.
- Andy Warhol‘s image of a banana was used as the album cover for the first album by The Velvet Underground.
- In Europe, bananas were eaten (in small quantities) during the Victorian Era, but they weren’t very well known. In his book Around the World in Eighty Day, Jules Verne describes a banana in great detail.
- The oldest banana in the United Kingdom is thought to have been from Tudor times. In 1999, archaeologists found the remains of a banana in a Tudor rubbish dump.