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Seasonal Produce: Bananas

If you go ape over bananas, you’re not alone. This versatile fruit is America’s most popular with over 4 million tons imported into the U.S. every year. Grown worldwide in tropical climates, bananas sold in North America are imported mainly from Central and South America. Unlike most fruit, bananas actually taste better when allowed to ripen off the plant.

That’s why they are picked and shipped while still green. Although there are hundreds of banana varieties, the yellow Cavendish is the most common. Bananas are harvested every day of the year so it’s no surprise that they are never out of season. In mid-winter when it seems unnatural to be eating summery types of imported fruits, bananas are a timeless addition to breakfast dishes, salads, breads and desserts.

Purchasing

  • Select bananas with plump, evenly colored light green to yellow skins. Avoid any with brown splotches or split skins. Bananas with green tips or ridges need further ripening at home.
  • To ripen bananas, store them at room temperature. Placing several in an open paper bag ripens them more quickly.
  • Refrigerate ripe bananas for several days. Although the peels turn brown, the fruit remains unchanged.
  • Freeze mashed bananas for up to 6 months, stirring in 1 teaspoon lemon juice for each banana to prevent browning.

Preparing

  • Use firm, ripe bananas for slicing, cooking and mixing with other fruit.
  • Soft, overripe bananas are best for mashing and using in baked breads and muffins.
  • Once peeled, use bananas immediately as they darken when exposed to air. To prevent discoloration, dip in a mixture of lemon juice and water.

Nutrition

  • Good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C

Serving

  • Add sliced bananas to your favorite hot or cold cereal.
  • Mashed bananas are a flavorful addition to all sorts of quick breads-loaves, muffins and even pancakes.
  • Perk up a smoothie or shake by adding a sliced banana to the blender.
  • Toss banana slices or chunks into your favorite fruit salad.
  • Top off a cup of yogurt or cottage cheese with banana slices.
  • Sneak some sliced bananas inside a peanut butter sandwich.
Bananas
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