The best known of the exotic varieties is Lady Fingers that account for around 14% of Australiaís production. This sweet banana has a delicate flavour and is favoured by consumers looking for a smaller snack. They are ideal for fruit salads and decorating desserts, as they do not brown when cut. Lady Fingers are readily available at most fruit shops and major supermarkets.
It is important that Lady Fingers are allowed to become fully ripe before using to enjoy their maximum flavour, as unripe Lady Fingers will taste dry and starchy. Brown flecks on the skin that has also become quite thin indicate mature ripeness and sweet flavour.
The main banana variety is Cavendish. For information about Cavendish bananas click here.
For information about Ducasse and other exotic banana varieties click here.
For general information about characteristics of bananas, taste, buying and storage, preparing and serving and availability read on.
Bananas originated in South East Asia and the Papua New Guinea region. There are even bananas native to the rainforests of north Queensland. They are the most important horticultural crop in tropical north Queensland and perhaps the best known of all tropical fruits. Chinese settlers introduced bananas into the region in the late 1800's and numerous varieties have been introduced since. The banana plant is actually an enormous herb and because of its continuous reproduction is regarded by Hindus as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. There is also a theory that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was a banana.
Characteristics Bananas vary in shape, from curved to straight and from cylindrical to square. Their length varies from between 6 cm and 35 cm. The skin colour depends on the variety and can range from yellow to green
and from blue to red. The flesh of bananas can vary in colour from white to orange.
Taste The taste and texture of bananas varies depending on their variety and the stage of ripeness. For example, Cavendish is typical of a low-acid banana while the characteristic tang of the Lady Finger variety is due to its acid components.
Buying and Storing Unlike some other fruits bananas will continue to ripen, particularly at room temperature. Storing bananas in a refrigerator will cause their skin to blacken, but this can be minimised by wrapping them in paper. When kept in a fruit bowl, bananas will hasten the ripening of other fruit because of the natural ethylene they produce.
Preparing and Serving Bananas are the original fast food! They can be peeled and eaten fresh or cooked. Ripe bananas are delicious and can be used in smoothies, milkshakes, fruit salads, cakes and sweet or savoury dishes. For a treat, try coating fresh, frozen or dried bananas in melted chocolate. Dried bananas make an excellent food for lunches and outdoor activities. If the fruit is sliced but is not being eaten immediately, brush with lemon to prevent discolouration. For fresh fruit salads, Lady Finger, Ducasse and Goldfinger are best because they hold their natural colour and do not darken. Bananas can be stored by freezing or drying. Peeled bananas can be frozen and stored in a freezer bag for up to six months.
Availability All year.
Varieties Bananas flourish in north Queensland, and Cavendish represents more than 95 per cent of the regionís commercial production. Ladyfinger, Ducasse, Sucrier and Red Dacca are some of the varieties regularly sold in local markets. Gardeners should note that planting permits are required before any banana planting material is moved or planted.
Acknowledgement The information about avocados is mainly sourced from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland publication Tropical Tastes - Fruits, Foods and Flavours of North Queensland and is reproduced with due acknowledgement and authority.