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.
1 lb. fresh = 3 to 4 medium = 2 cups sliced = 1 ¾ mashed
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.
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: 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: 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|
Keep bananas at room temperature; they will continue to ripen. Even very ripe or overripe bananas are good for some recipes (see suggestions above).