There are thousands of types of bananas. But we are going to focus on the six most popular varieties.
These are the ones we are familiar with here in the US. Also referred to as the Chiquita banana they have a bright yellow peel and soft white flesh. These bananas can be eaten raw or baked into desserts. You want to choose a bright yellow banana if you are eating it raw. If you are cooking it in something, like banana bread, or mashing it up for a smoothie you will want a banana that is yellow with black spots. Your bananas should never have a gray tint or dull looking skin.
These bananas have a heartier flavor than the Cavendish bananas. They are red to almost black when ripe. The flesh is also pinkish. They contain more beta carotene than Cavendish bananas and have a hint of raspberry flavor. These can be used the same as Cavendish bananas.
These bananas are green, but turn bright yellow when ripe. They are about 3 inches long and are the sweetest bananas you can buy. The flesh is creamy white and soft in texture. These also can be used the same as the Cavendish bananas.
These are yellow, and develop black spots as they ripen just like a Cavendish. They have a small, stubby rectangular shape to them. They have a tangy, almost lemony taste to them. They also can be used just as the Cavendish bananas are used.
Manzano means “apple tree” in Spanish. This is a fitting name for these apple-strawberry flavored bananas. They are shorter and chunkier than the Cavendish banana. They also have a firmer drier flesh (like an apple) than the Cavendish, which is probably part of where it got the “apple banana” name! They do have a yellow peel like the Cavendish, but it turns black when the banana is ripe.
Plantain bananas are not really used in this country. These must be cooked before consumed as I said before. They may or may not have a sweet flavor depending on the type. They are also much larger than the other bananas. They can be over a foot long and much thicker than the bananas we are used to. The plantain peels range in color from yellow to red or brown and turn black when they are ripe. They can be used whether ripe or not, but they do become sweeter as they ripen. In the countries where these are used they would be used like we use potatoes or pasta.
Take a walk on the wild side and go try a new type of banana this week!