A smaller variety of the larger Cavendish cousin, this banana is sweeter in flavor and unique in its smaller appearance. It is a variety that is often used in fruit salads, for baking breads, or as a snack.
CAVENDISH ( Manzano )
This variety, native to Central and South America, belongs to a subcategory known as apple bananas, and the name fits. The texture of a Manzano is firmer than that of the Cavendish, and the scent is complex, marked by a strong tart-apple aroma. The taste, too, is tart—at least when you first bite into the fruit, whose flavor quickly gives way to sweetness. Though you can sometimes find Manzanos at supermarkets, Asian specialty stores are your best bet.
Actually an entire subset of the fruit, plantains are a kind of banana that is usually cooked. With a few exceptions, these rarely reach the eat-raw sweetness of varieties like Cavendish (which are officially categorized as “dessert” bananas). Plantains have been on our shores longer than the Cavendish and are a cheap and delicious substitute for potatoes or rice in many Latin American cuisines. My favorite way to enjoy plantains is as Cuban-style tostones: just slice the fruit at a deep bias and fry the slices in peanut oil, letting them drain on paper towels; then flatten them and fry them again. You want to end up with crunchy chips that are still a bit soft on the inside. Sprinkle the chips with salt and dip them in your favorite salsa, or in a garlicky mojo sauce.
FOOD SERVICE OPTIONS
Taste: Depending on their color, plantains range in taste from bland (green) to sweet (black).
Selection: Plantains can be enjoyed at each stage of development. Dark spots on the skin should not cause concern.
Ripening: Fruit ripens at room temperature, or with the assistance of ethylene gas.
Ethylene Production: Low
Ethylene Sensitivity: High
Shelf Life:Plantains will keep for 3 weeks. Green fruit should be kept at room temperature, while more than half-ripe fruit should be refrigerated.
Availability: All year.
Storage Temperature: 45° – 50°F
Storage Humidity: 90%
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