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What is it?

The most popular fruit in the United States, bananas have a sweet, honey-like flavor and a comforting soft texture. A great source of potassium, bananas have a tough, inedible peel. Besides their familiar place as a snack, quick bread ingredient, and pancake addition, bananas are used in savory dishes such as stews in African and Caribbean cuisines.

Kitchen math:

1 lb. fresh = 3 to 4 medium = 2 cups sliced = 1 ¾ mashed

How to choose:

The most widely available variety is Cavendish bananas. When ripe, they are a rich yellow with some brown spots. Look for bananas with no cracks or bruises. Buy ones tinged with green if you don’t plan to eat them right away.

How to prep:

A banana’s personality changes as it ripens. Here’s how to match its stage of ripeness with the right dish or technique:

underripe banana Barely ripe banana ripe banana
Underripe banana: Best for stir-fries, stews, curries, substitute for plantains, deep frying   Barely ripe banana: Best for stews, curries, casseroles, deep frying   Ripe banana: Best for fruit salads, fruit tart toppings, bread or rice puddings, roasting
very ripe banana over ripe banana
Very ripe banana: Best for ice cream sundaes, cheesecakes, trifles, fillings for French toast, crêpes, or sandwiches, broiling, grilling, or flambéing   Overripe banana: Best for smoothies, quick breads, pancakes or waffles, daquiris or other cocktails    


How to store:

Keep bananas at room temperature; they will continue to ripen. Even very ripe or overripe bananas are good for some recipes (see suggestions above).


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