Gros Michel Bananas
(image via: Knife & Fork)
Rumors regarding the dearth of the legendary Gros Michel banana are exaggerated, though so-called “Big Mike” isn’t as easy to acquire these days. Preceding the introduction of the Cavendish cultivar in the mid-20th century, Gros Michel bananas were THE bananas supplied to Europe and North America before Panama Disease fusarium wilt fungal blight wiped out South American and African plantations growing them.
Not all Gros Michel bananas bit the dust, however, as the cultivar survived in southeast Asia and is now a major export fruit from Thailand and Malaysia to Japan and China. Depending on supply and demand factors for the threatened Cavendish, consumers in other, farther parts of the world may someday be reacquainted with this flavorful and fragrant banana.
Plump, red-skinned and orange-fleshed Karat bananas have been a staple food in Micronesia for centuries. Though much rarer now than in the past, these smooth and creamy bananas are often the first food a Pacific Islands baby eats following mother’s milk. The rich yellow-orange color of the fruit indicates its high beta carotene content: one Karat banana contains over 100 times more beta-carotene of a typical white-fleshed banana.
Also known as Red Dacca bananas in Australia, red bananas are usually the only “exotic” bananas found in North American supermarkets. Smaller and plumper than the familiar Cavendish, red bananas are softer and sweeter than their yellow cousins and boast higher levels of vitamin C and beta carotene.
(image via: FitnAss)
Red bananas are susceptible to Panama Disease but are generally more resistant due to their being less subject to monoculture farming practices that have been the bane of banana planters for over a century. As for their taste, some say they can sense a slight raspberry flavor though that may just be an impression deriving from their redness.