- The first banana arrived in Britain in 1633.
- Despite its odd shape, the banana is actually a berry.
- It is the fruit of giant herb related to both ginger and tumeric and came originally from the Malaysian Peninsula.
- Banana trees grow to about 10 meters in height and have huge leaves which wind around to form a sort of trunk. Each year individual plants produce a large flower spike in a gorgeous deep cerise colour which eventually becomes the bunch of bananas.
- Commercially, the fruit is picked when green, but of full size. It is then transported to its destination, usually in refrigerated ships and ripened when it gets there.
- The botanical name for banana is musa sapientum. The second part of this name, the species, means “wise.” This is because it was said that wise men sat under banana trees in the shade.
Eating bananas are mainly yellow, though there are some that have a pinkish hue. Plaintains, or cooking bananas, are green or yellowish green. They taste somewhat like sweet potatoes and grow straighter than the curved sweet varieties.
Don’t store bananas in the refrigerator or the skins will blacken. Plaintains are often baked in their skins — this takes about 45 minutes in a moderate oven. They can also be sliced into chips and fried. In Caribbean cookery they are added to curries and sometimes the baked flesh is mashed into a sort of porridge.