Who knew that you could do so many things with bananas besides eat them? Cue the banana jokes.
Americans love their bananas; the average American consumes 25 pounds of bananas per year. Bananas come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, but the Cavendish variety is the one that most people are familiar with today. Its uniform size and consistent sweet flavor are products of its genetic perfection; whether a Cavendish is grown in Asia, Australia, or Latin America, its makeup is exactly the same. What you get in consistency, though, you lose in adaptability; the banana as we know it today is under threat from a disease that has already spread throughout Asia and Australia and may make its way next to Latin America, where most of the bananas we eat in the U.S. come from. A similar thing happened to its predecessor, the Gros Michel, in the 1960s. (Translate from French for a quick laugh.)
Plantains are another type of banana known as a cooking banana. Their flavor is generally starchier, although they do turn sweet as they become very ripe. Their flesh is harder, and they contain less moisture than sweet bananas like the Cavendish. And unlike sweet bananas, they must be cooked. They're great for side dishes and are a staple in many Latin American cuisines. Plantains turn yellow as they ripen, and then black but unlike sweet bananas, you can keep them in the refrigerator without any detrimental effects (if you don't know what we're talking about, try refrigerating a regular old banana sometime).
So once again, The Daily Meal editorial team worked hard to bring you some delicious treats, this time featuring this ubiquitous tropical fruit. All the dessert classics make their appearance, as well as a few surprises.
The Daily Meal is also happy to feature some great recipes from the Culinary Content Network. Take comfort in this Banana Nut Bread recipe from Anjali Shah, author of the blog The Picky Eater. Her version isn't the same as those overly sugary, overly rich versions at a brunch buffet; instead, Shah lightens the calories and keeps in all the flavor.
But don't just take our word for it — go ahead and try these banana recipes for yourself.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.