Variety and Colour - Red Bananas

Raw, braised, fried, baked: the red bananas' aromas and flavours can enrich many a dish.

© Ovidiu Creanga | Unsplash

Raw, braised, fried, baked: the red bananas' aromas and flavours can enrich many a dish.

Raw, braised, fried, baked: the red bananas' aromas and flavours can enrich many a dish.

© Ovidiu Creanga | Unsplash

Over-ripe or even inedible? The colour of the peel might lead you to think so, but this is not the case with red bananas, because under their unusual dark coloured, slightly thicker skins, you will find creamy, pink, aromatic and sweet flesh with a hint of raspberry. The red-brown colour is due to a high beta-carotene value. The taste of 'The Red', as the tropical fruit is called in Sinhalese, is in no way inferior to that of the yellow Cavendish banana with which we are all so familiar.

But at 15 centimetres long, The Red is somewhat smaller than its best-selling relation. Originally from India, red banana plantations are now also found in Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Thailand and the Philippines. The fruit is available all year round, but at a price - about five times as expensive as its yellow sister.

An enrichment

Raw, fried or baked: the red banana's sweet flavour enriches many dishes. It pairs well with oranges, kiwis, pineapples, mangoes and peaches. Ginger and chilli would add a touch of exoticism to your plate. Basically, this red tropical fruit can be used like its yellow counterpart and in the countries where it is grown, it is often eaten warm. Tip: It makes an excellent spicy banana cake!

Unripe fruit is unpleasant

If unripe, red bananas tend to be tasteless and chalky. Not only do they taste unpleasant, but they can also be more difficult to digest and the vitamins are not as readily available to our bodies. Luckily there are plenty of quick ripening tricks on the internet.

Heating in the microwave (prick the skin with a fork beforehand), bake in a warm oven for 15 minutes or store in a loosely closed paper bag are all useful tips. As bananas ripen their starch is broken down into more digestable and sweeter tasting sugars. The trick with the closed paper bag is that it stores the ethylene gas which the banana gives off as it ripens. Keeping this contained near the fruit enables it to ripen faster.

Recognising maturity

All bananas are shipped unripe from their country of origin to minimise damage and bruising from transport. Red bananas are reddish-brown with a green tinge at the beginning, as they ripen the skin becomes less green and more red and may acquire small spots. The colour does not change as drastically as yellow bananas, but its red hue does darken towards a maroon/purple and like all bananas the skin become slightly soft when ripe. If the banana peel is lightly spotted and gives slightly when pressed then it is ready to be eaten.