In different parts of the world, one of the most commonly known and enjoyed fruits is the banana. However, many of us do not know how they are grown, which countries produce bananas, and how many kinds of bananas there are.
Grown in 135 tropical climate countries, in most cases, the banana doesn’t get credit for all benefits it brings to our diet. It originated in Australia and Indomalaya, a botanical province that straddles the boundary between Indomalaya and Australasia.
Ecuador leads in exports
Bananas are grown in Costa Rica, Colombia, the Philippines, etc., but Ecuador is the country that leads in the export of bananas. It comprises 23.3% of total banana exports in the world, according to World’s Top Exports.
Bananas can be found in every part of Ecuador but especially along the coastline. You will find many banana plantations, most of which are privately owned, and you can see the locals selling the fruit along the road.
Most people have never been to a banana plantation and only find bananas in their local supermarkets. Very few know how to choose bananas to buy, when they have the most nutritional value, or when they are the sweetest.
There are differences between the types of bananas and how we use them.
There are not only yellow bananas but also baby bananas, red bananas, and plantains.
Cooking With Plantains
Plantains are mostly used for cooking. This is because plantains have a lower starch concentration than bananas and are softer. Plantains, when green or ripe, should be cooked as they soften; this enhances the flavor. After a green plantain is cooked in water or oil, it can be pressed into patacones or can be processed as a puree for different dishes.
Ripe plantains can be cooked in water, fried in oil, or even baked since they are softer and sweeter. I included some of my family’s recipes below.
In Ecuador, as in many places of Central and South America, bananas and plantains are highly consumed. They use it in many ways, such as eating a banana as fruit or pureeing it and mixing it with cheese, and preparing it like a banana split. Plantains are mainly eaten as patacones, tigrillo, majado, empanadas, and ripe plantains are eaten fried, made into a cake, and grilled. Each has its unique taste and texture. These ways of enjoying the fruit depend a lot on which part of the country you’re living.
Flecked with brown
When we buy bananas, they are yellow or partially green so they may last longer at home. I have noticed that people do not eat bananas when they have brown spots; this, however, is the most optimal point to eat the banana.
They are the most nutritious since they have the highest potassium concentration. If they become slightly blackish, they are at their sweetest. This is perfect for preparing banana cake without flour, as you will find in the recipe below. When ripe plantains have white spotting, specifically on the ends, it is not a good time to be consumed since that means they’re turning bad.
Enjoy the recipes below, and please let me know how they turn out.
Patacones Recipe (yield for 2 people)
- 2 green plantains
- 4 cups of frying oil
- Salt to taste
In a frying pan, add the oil and heat until the oil makes bubbles.
- Peel the plantain with a knife over some warm water to avoid the latex from sticking to your hands.
- Cut in pieces of an inch thick, place them in the oil, and cook them halfway through or until soft.
- Next, press them to make small cakes using a glass or a wooded presser, but do not make them too thin—approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Return the pressed pieces back into the oil and cook all the way through or until crispy.
- After that, place them on a paper towel to remove the excess oil, sprinkle salt to taste and they’re ready to eat.
Baked Ripe Plantains with Cheese (yield for 2 people)
- 2 ripe plantains
- 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
- Grated cheese to preference
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut off the tips of the ripe plantains, then cut through the middle with the plantain peel still on halfway.
- Add half of the sugar to each plantain, making sure to spread evenly through the plantain.
- Add the grated cheese on top.
- Bake in the oven on a baking sheet until the plantain is soft and cheese melted with a slight brown color on the top.
Flourless Banana Cake
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel the bananas and place them in a blender. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla essence, and cornstarch. Add sugar if desired; blend until the bananas are well mixed with the other ingredients.
- Place the batter in a Pyrex dish previously buttered and bake it until you place a fork in the middle and it comes out clean. (Tip: you can add nuts or dry fruit to the batter before baking it)
- Let it cool down and enjoy a great cake that you can eat with ice cream or even add the sauce that you like.
Enjoy your banana delicacies. Have you tried these recipes, or do you have your own? Share your banana ideas with us.
by: Sebastian Vallejo