banana [buh-nan-uh] noun
Musa acuminata. A long, gently curved yellow fruit that grows in clusters (often referred to as bunches). The edible flesh is pale yellow with a dense, creamy texture. The typical supermarket variety is the Cavendish. Bananas are harvested green, allowing them to be transported as safely as possible without bruising (which will show up as an extra squishy spot). Bananas ripen very easily and very well at room temperature and can turn from un-ripe green to ripe with a few black spots during the course of one week. Ripeness is a matter of taste; some folks like them when there is still a bit of green near the stem, some want to eat them when they are all golden yellow, and others want a few black spots beginning to appear. Bananas become sweeter as they ripen. The image below was taken by Dede who purchased this bunch with the three bananas at very different stages of ripeness. Even her produce experts had no explanation. The very ripe one on the right looks bruised, but it was not. It was just very ripe. If you have any idea how this happened, email us and let us know what you think!
For baking something like banana bread, the peel should have some black spots and no green color. There is, however, a difference between “firm but ripe” and “fully ripe,” so pay attention to what recipes call for. “Firm but ripe,” which you might use in a banana split or Bananas Foster, means the day they have lost their green color but haven’t begun to blacken. “Ripe” would mean that there are some black spots and would be perfect for that banana bread or a smoothie. Store at room temperature to ripen. Once ripe, bananas may be refrigerated for a few days. Their skin will blacken further when chilled, but the actual fruit inside will change very little. If your banana is in danger of over-ripening, simply place peeled fruit in a heavy zip-top bag and freeze for up to one month. Perfect for icy cold smoothies.