Fruit of the Week: Banana pt. 2

– The term “banana” is also used as the common name for the plants which grow the fruit
– The banana plant is the largest herbaceous (soft stem and grows for one season) flowering plant
– They are often mistaken for trees, but what looks like a trunk is actually a “false stem”
– Most banana plants are around 16 ft tall, with a range from 10 ft to 23 ft or more
– The leaves may grow 8.9 ft long and 2.0 ft wide
– Banana plant leaves are easily torn by the wind, making the familiar frond look
– Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof and so can be used as umbrellas
– Banana leaves are often used as ecologically friendly disposable food containers or as “plates” in South Asia and several Southeast Asian countries
– Traditionally in Tamil marriages, banana plants are tied on both sides of the entrance of houses to bless the newlyweds to be useful to each other
– In the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in every occasion the food must be served in a banana leaf
– In Tamil Nadu leaves are fully dried and used as packing material for food stuffs and also making cups to hold liquid foods
– The banana fruits develop in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called “hands”), with up to 20 fruit to a tier
– The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, made up of 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a “banana stem”, and can weigh 66–110 lb
– The poet Bashō is named after the Japanese word for a banana plant, the “bashō” planted in his garden by a grateful student became a source of inspiration to his poetry, as well as a symbol of his life and home
– Depending upon cultivar and ripeness, bananas can vary in taste from starchy to sweet, and texture from firm to mushy
– Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive because of their potassium content and the small amounts of the isotope potassium-40 found in naturally occurring potassium
– The banana equivalent dose of radiation is sometimes used in nuclear communication to compare radiation levels and exposures
– In Malay folklore, the ghost known as Pontianak is associated with banana plants (pokok pisang), and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day
– India produces 20% of the world’s bananas followed by Uganda and China
– However, Ecuador exports around 30% of the world’s bananas followed by Costa Rica and Colombia
– Bananas feature prominently in Philippine cuisine, being part of traditional dishes and desserts
– Bananas are also commonly used in cuisine in the South-Indian state of Kerala

Grandma’s Homemade Banana Bread

Grandma’s Homemade Banana Bread
Makes 1 8×4 inch loaf

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sour milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Lightly grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan.
3. Combine sugar, butter, bananas, eggs, flour, baking soda, milk, salt and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl; beat well.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
6. Enjoy!

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