Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bananas (and things you didn't know about them)

Supermarkets in Hawaii (and most other places) tend to carry the familiar Cavendish variety of banana. It’s a larger banana and gets mushy quickly.

But there are many other delightful varieties of bananas that can be easily found in Hawaii, like the apple banana which is small and firm and has great flavor, the ice cream banana which has a soft creamy texture like ice cream, or the red banana. There are even striped bananas.

Uncommon striped bananas at the Maui Fair.
“Cooking bananas” have edible flowers for salad and stay firm, even after they are cooked. Some banana varieties or plantains are grated when they are green and hard and cooked in local dishes like pastele.

Where to find great bananas?
Farmers markets, roadside fruit stands, smaller mom and pop grocery stores, ethnic stores like Filipino stores, and some health food stores.

Bananas in native Hawaiian culture: Interestingly, bananas were a forbidden food for Hawaiian women. Nowadays, that’s not a taboo anyone keeps.  The banana leaf makes a great serving dish and can be used to wrap food in for cooking. Bananas were also one of the canoe plants transported over the ocean when the Hawaiians settled different islands.

Medicinal uses: Bananas have surprising medicinal value. The sap from the banana trunk is extremely bitter and has been ingested as Hawaiian medicine for the flu, colds or a sore throat. (I am not recommending you to do this, this is NOT medical advice.) It also will stain your clothes permanently brown!

Growing bananas: They are fairly easy to grow, but like warm weather and lots of water and good soil. When the plant starts to flower, it can take months for the bananas to fully develop. After the plant fruits, it dies, so it’s best to cut down after harvesting the bananas. New banana plants will grow from the roots of the parents.

By the way, cats do not eat bananas. My cat will tell you so. 

P.S. If you are blog hopping from the A to Z challenge, please include your link if you comment! I try to reciprocate comments as quickly as I can, though I did lag behind last year, especially towards the end.

P.P.S. I am running two mini-contests during the A-Z Challenge (and into part of May). Here's how to enter


  1. Bananas! I love them (especially in milkshakes) but never been to a place where they actually grow.
    Lovely blog! I hope I will make it to Hawaii one day...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of Colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

  2. You will! If you want to enough. There can be flight specials if you sign up for free to get airline emails from Hawaiian Air etc. Then you find out about the sales. Can give you tips if you ever want.

  3. Yes, they are yummy. And apple bananas stay amazingly fresh even if the peels turn black. They don't get all mushy like the normal supermarket bananas.

  4. Thanks for the great info on bananas! I have not heard of the ice cream banana. Do you know where I might find some on Maui? I absolutely love apple bananas - I won't eat the big old regular bananas anymore.

  5. Lots of things I didn't know about bananas. Great to follow and connect through A to Z

  6. I've seen the ice cream bananas at the upcountry Farmer's Market in Kula at least once. Also I have some of those trees at home, no fruit right now, but if you want keikis, come over.

  7. I didn't know that about the plant dying after the fruit is harvested. Being in California, our banana plants die with the frost, but they come back again in the Spring. Because it's been so hot, one of the plants already has fruit growing. Be interesting to see it's normal cycle.

  8. I love bananas. I will have to try these other types.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

  9. We are in a condo, so no keikis for us. Thank you for offering! I will definitely check at farmer's market in Kula. Mahalo!

  10. How cool is that? I didn't know you could grow them in CA! And that they'd come back each year!

  11. Aloha Brandon, yes, especially if you have access to a farmer's market that brings in more varieties.

  12. Make sure to get there early, like by 7am for best selection.

  13. Ice cream bananas? Seriously?
    One of the delicacies we have in Malaysia is Fried Bananas! You should try it one day :)

    Deeply Shallow

  14. I've had fried banana lumpia which is delish! Seriously, you should be blogging about Malaysia and Malaysian food if you haven't already!

  15. Oh dear, found another missing comment that never showed up on Disqus.



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