Harvesting is a race against time that starts while the banana is still green. From harvest to delivery at the supermarket twenty days remain before spoilage occurs. Transportation is done with specialized, refrigerated cargo ships, each containing some 250,000 boxes of bananas collected the day before. The bananas are stocked in "ripening rooms" for six to eight days at a temperature that can not exceed 14.5C. This temperature allows a homogenous ripening of the bananas of different sizes.
The color of a bananas skin indicates its degree of ripeness, but here is a more precise guide. Green bananas are not ripe, but can be safely used in soups and stews. Yellow with green tips indicates the fruit is partially ripe and it can be broiled, baked or fried. All yellow bananas are ripe and are best eaten raw or baked into cakes or pies. Yellow bananas with brown freckles are fully ripe and can be eaten raw, in a salad or in any other dishes calling for uncooked fruit. All brown bananas are over ripe, but if the flesh is firm they are still in prime eating condition. Blackened areas indicate bruised fruit and should be avoided.
Bananas can be utilized in hundreds of dishes prepared in as many ways. Roasted, fried, broiled, par boiled, baked, sautéed or eaten raw, the results are always delicious. They wear many hats, so to speak, and can serve as relishes, stuffing for goose, duck, turkey or chicken, sauces, spreads, jellies, jams, candies, cake and pie filling, flour for breads and fresh fruit in salads. There is little that one cannot do with a banana (except maybe pay a utility bill). I am sure that Carmen Miranda loved bananas in every way, but dying as she did at such an early age, I wonder if she didnt put more of them on her hats than she ever ate. Chiquita could have told her the truth, but would she have listened? Somehow I tend to doubt that those two would have ever gotten along!
Did you know . . .