A little known fact, bananas are America’s number one fruit and I’m here to show you why they are so amazing. You can eat bananas at any of the three stages of ripeness, green, yellow and brown. There are bananas out there being thrown away because they are too brown or just sitting there waiting to turn yellow. People, you can eat both of those nutrient packed fruits.

I’m about to school you on the amazing little fruits that come in bunches and are pre-packaged single snacks.

 

How to store them

Bananas are picked well before they are ripe and they are one of the few fruits to ripen off the tree. As they ripen they release a gas called ethylene, which is a plant hormone. By breaking up the bunch and separating the bananas, they will ripen slower. If you place the bunch in a paper bag, it will ripen faster. Once they reach their ripest state, place them in the fridge to extend the perfection for a few days.

Or get yourself a nice banana rack at the store and call it a day.

 

What does color mean?

The gas released during ripening tells the fruit to process its starches to sugars, so the riper the sweeter. Ripe ones are easier to digest and green ones are packed with fiber.   Eating a green one every once in awhile promotes intestinal health and it acts as a prebiotic.

 

Stages

Bananas have three different stages of ripeness and each stage have their own uses.

 

Green

Green ones are much higher in starch and less sweet so try them in savory dishes or as a butter substitute in cookies. You won’t have the pungent aroma you are used to and they will be much more firm. International fare uses lots of unripe bananas so try one of those recipes.

Plantains are bananas cousins and are similar to the green ones.

You can boil or steam a green one and have a nice Jamaican style side dish.

 

Yellow

This is what you are familiar with and the smell is what you would expect. This is the time when you would put them in the fridge to keep the ripeness for a few days. You may see some brown spots forming and don’t fret, this is normal. The brown spots are just areas that are riper and sweeter. The starchiness is all but gone now and the sugar levels are as high as they will get.

Slice up some and try them in your cereal or blended in a smoothie. They should be soft but not mushy.

If you want a nice vegan ice cream option, freeze some slices and mush together, there ya go.

 

Brown

Time to get your Martha Stewart on and bake these brown babies. The brown banana is super soft, mushy and very sweet. Bake anything from banana bread to cookies and your family will be happy. In vegan cooking you can switch out eggs for over ripe brown ones with a one for one ratio.

Try freezing brown ones and the next time you have a craving for banana bread, you won’t have to wait.

 

Now can you understand why these little yellow fruits have taken over apples as America’s number one fruit?

 

Photos courtesy of All My Friends, Bellmont, healthy habits