Take your taste buds for a walk on the wild side this summer and try one of these exotic different types of bananas that are so much more exciting than your good old yellow Cavendish bananas. Scout them out at your local natural foods store, Asian foods market or large produce market, or try them out the next time you're in the tropics or Mexico!
There are more than 1,000 different types of bananas growing around the world today, although most of the bananas sold in grocery stores are yellow Cavendish bananas, and are the only variety that many people have ever tried. Regular Cavendish bananas are no doubt delicious, healthy, and great in many recipes, but the four banana varieties we have listed below are definitely worth trying out. Each has a unique flavor of its own that lends a tasty touch to smoothies, quick breads and desserts - you can even freeze them and make vegan banana ice cream with a juicer!
1. Manzano or Apple Bananas
These delightful little bananas are about half the size of a regular Cavendish banana and grow all over the islands of Hawaii. They are slightly firmer in texture that Cavendish bananas and have a fresh, apple like flavor that is so delicious on a hot beach day. Apple bananas are best when fully ripe, which is when some brownish specs appear on the skin.
2. Cuban Red Bananas
Rich and creamy, Cuban red bananas are a very enticing alternative to regular yellow bananas. This fruit ripens once the skin has turned a deep, dark red and the flesh is a pale orange. This flesh also smells delicious!
3. Orinoco Bananas
This variety has largely been grown in California as a landscape plant, and so its tasty fruit often goes unnoticed. When properly cultivated Orinoco banana plants produce enormous stalks with fruit that has a texture and flavor perfect for banana bread. These may be harder to find in a grocery store or produce market, but may try your hand at growing them and pick one up from your local nursery.
4. Blue Java Ice Cream Bananas
The bluish cast on the skin of this fruit and its vanilla custard like flavor gives it both of its nostalgic names. Ice cream bananas are actually one of the hardiest banana varieties that can withstand cooler climates and very strong winds. These bananas are great for both fresh eating and cooking, and are very pleasant served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.