Bananas, an expensive treat…

30 Aug
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Banana's an expensive treat (courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art)

Bananas are an expensive treat (at least here in Australia), so it seems to be  an investment to have this sweet fruit. You buy a beautifully yellow bunch of  bananas but before you get to eat them all they start turning brown. Blink and  they are black, squishy, slightly alcoholic but never fear, these are the bananas  you want to make the most amazing moist (sorry, to the moist haters out  there) banana cakes or breads. Keep reading and you will be given the secret  recipe (making it not so secret but still just as good).

Ok before we get on to the recipe (which I know you’re all dying for) let me  explain the reason why your bananas go from perfect for eating to being slightly  iffy so quickly. For bananas it’s all about the temperature. Bananas are  harvested when they are still green (this is called the “hard green phase”).  During transport they are kept at 15°C, this keeps them locked in the hard green phase. Before they reach the supermarket they are placed in ripening rooms (yes that is what it is really called) to, you guess it, ripen into the yellow bananas you buy at the store.

A ripening room is like a cool room but instead of it being where cold food is stored, it is for bananas. So it is not cold at all, in fact it is a room that creates the perfect banana ripening conditions. The heat is turned up to 17°C, apparently perfect banana ripening temperature, are the humidity is control. Basically the bananas are tricked into thinking they are still on the plant and will ripen.

Interesting fact about fruits (including bananas), as they ripen they produce a gas called ethylene. Ethylene helps in the ripening process (yes amazingly the fruit produces gas that helps it ripen).

Back to the ripening rooms. The bananas are exposed to the warm 17°C air and their own ethylene. The ripening process has started. The bananas respire (breath) in these conditions (I mean you would too, it is kind of like going into a sauna) and like being in a sauna the banana pores open up. So basically its like a day at the spa for bananas. As the pores open the air softens the flesh (the bit you eat) until the skin is a lovely yellow colour. The bananas are kept in this ripening room for 6-7days (the temperature dictates the colour at the end of this process). The temperature is never allowed to go above 18°C or below 13°C, so as not to spoil the fruit.

The ripening process complete, the bananas are a nice yellow colour, and are transported to the markets for purchase by you. So as you can see, your bananas are usually ready to eat straight away.

Now you know the journey of a banana you will be able to understand why the banana skin discolours quickly. The banana is still giving of ethylene, which is continuing the ripen process. So if you store your bananas on the bench in the fruit bowl (with other fruit also giving off ethylene) you are going to accelerate the rate of ripening (especially when you consider that the temperature on the bench is usually up in the 20-30°C range). Your also going to see the rest of the fruit in the bowl ripen quicker. Storing your bananas in the fridge decreases the rate of ripening but the chilled temperature causes the skin to discolour faster (which means they don’t look as good to eat but are still perfectly fine).

My advise, keep the bananas separate from the rest of the fruit. I store mine the fridge because even with a brown skin the flesh is still firm and good to eat. It’s when the skin is black and the flesh is squishy that it is time to make a banana cake (whether they are on the bench or in the fridge). Storing your bananas in your backpack in a brown paper bag is never recommended.

Ok banana cake recipe time: just watch the video below. If you want the written version then it can be found on the recipe page.


Posted by on 30/08/2011 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “Bananas, an expensive treat…

  1. Tomoko

    29/09/2011 at 18:41

    It is such a nice and kind cooking show! Even people who haven’t done cooking yet, it is easily understandable and has a nice and timing. I personally think that why Banana is very expensive in Australia while Australia is such a huge continent! It could be a new business chance growing banana and the business!

  2. collegekitchenscientist

    29/09/2011 at 23:50

    Thank you. Bananas are expensive in Australia in part due to the disruption in harvests due to natural disasters hitting the regions they grow in (Northern Queensland). The demand is also rather high because people like bananas. High demand + low supply= high costs. Then you add rising fuel and food costs and a high Australian dollar and you get bananas at $10.95 per kg.

  3. Arwen

    30/09/2011 at 10:45

    I’d love to see a room full of ripening bananas! It’s a cute to think of them hanging out in the sauna getting a nice yellow tan.

  4. collegekitchenscientist

    30/09/2011 at 11:24

    It is apparently what they do… although I don’t think they get treated as nicely as you would at a spa.


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