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There are about four hundred different varieties of this fabulous fruit, but don’t tell Carmen Miranda. (Apart from fact that she is dead and you couldn’t possibly, there is no way woman could fit one more piece of anything on top of one of her hats!) The three chief imported brands are Chiquita, Bonita and Fyffes. The Chiquita (according to her whom I trust implicitly) is always a guarantee of quality. Its production sites are located in Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Columbia. The Bonita banana hails from Ecuador and is cheapest of three, but only because it is never advertised. Fyffe’s founded in 1888, has distinction of being oldest fruit brand in world. These bananas are produced in Belize, Columbia, Honduras, Suriname, Jamaica and The Windward Islands.
Harvesting is a race against time that starts while banana is still green. From harvest to delivery at supermarket twenty days remain before spoilage occurs. Transportation is done with specialized refrigerated cargo ships, each containing some 250,000 boxes of bananas collected 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 bananas of different sizes.
The color of a banana’s 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 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 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, 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 didn’t put more of them on her hats than she ever ate. Chiquita could have told her truth, but would she have listened? Somehow I tend to doubt that those two would have ever gotten along!
Bio Marjorie Dorman is a freelance writer originally from Brooklyn, New York. She now lives in Doylestown, PA with four cats. She is the author of an ebook called A Taste of Funny and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry (http://www.ingestandimbibe) features many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.