If you ask people to give a list of ten fruits, there’s a very high chance that they’ll list bananas – if you ask for a list in alphabetical order, bananas nearly always are used for B (rather than blueberries, breadfruit or blackberries). Most of us love the smell of bananas – some list the scent of banana as a favourite smell – and they’ve been the subject of numerous slapstick jokes involving the slipperiness of the peels.
Bananas are the fruit from trees of the Musa genus, with several species being used for food. “Cavendish” is the variety used most widely used as a dessert or sweet banana, with its Latin name being Musa acuminate.
Bananas are a rich source of complex carbohydrates –they have triple the amount of complex carbs compared to most (if not all) other fruits. This is why they make a great snack and a good supply of long-lasting energy.
A banana provides enough energy for the average person to walk two kilometres.
Bananas are usually picked green and the ripening process is hurried up by washing ethylene gas over them. The flavour is improved, however, if the bananas are “ungassed” and allowed to ripen by themselves. However, the ethylene gas is not harmful – apples give off this gas naturally. For this reason, if you want bananas to last longer without over-ripening, don’t store them with apples. You can buy special fruit bowls that have a special hook for bananas above the main part of the bowl so they don’t spoil quickly. Conversely, if you have bought bananas a little green and want to hurry them along a bit, pop them in an airtight container with some apples and let the natural ethylene from the apples ripen them.
Bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals. Unlike many other fruits, they contain all six major vitamin groups, being particularly rich in vitamin B6 (one banana can provide roughly one third of an adult’s recommended daily intake). They are also a rich source of potassium, which is essential for healthy muscle tissue.
Bananas contain serotonin, which promotes sleep and is also a natural anti-depressant.
Bananas can be frozen. The skin will turn black, but the flesh will be fine. A delicious (and reasonably healthy) snack for children and adults involved skewering bananas (halved or whole) and dipping them in melted chocolate before freezing.
Because of their high vitamin, carbohydrate and mineral content, mashed bananas are excellent “first foods” for infants just starting on solids. They’re easy to digest, too. Only very few people are allergic to bananas so it is usually a safe food to give babies.
Banana stains are difficult to remove – unlike other fruit spills and splashes, they don’t just wash off in the regular wash. Suggestions to remove banana stains from clothing include dabbing it with tea tree oil before washing, rubbing it with a natural domestic cleaner London like lemon juice (which is a mild bleach) or rubbing with a mixture of glycerine and water. Washing with a biological washing powder in warm water can work. With white clothing and an old stain (baby clothes spring to mind), chlorine bleach can be used.
Banana peels can be used as an emergency shoe polish as it contains a natural lubricant – yes, the same lubricant that makes the banana peels so slippery. Banana peels are also supposed to be good for buffing leather upholstery and even for cleaning silverware. Do a patch test on an inconspicuous spot first.
Banana peels are also rich in nutrients. Roses, in particular, like banana peels, so instead of throwing out your banana peels into the rubbish, tuck the peels around the roots of your rose bushes. At the very least, compost those banana peels – they’re so full of goodies for your garden it’s a shame to waste them on a landfill.
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