Today we’re going to learn cool facts about bananas and then delve into 12 delicious ways to use them in everything from smoothies and banana bread to luscious desserts. We’ll even answer the question: how much DNA do we share with bananas?
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world and it’s not hard to see why: these tropical fruits are perfectly sweet and can be made into many delicious foods. Even though they are a tropical fruit that doesn’t grow in most places in the US, the average American eats 26 pounds of bananas every year!
Given how much everyone loves bananas, we thought it would be fun to learn a bit more about them. Here’s everything you need to know about bananas – plus a few things you probably didn’t “need” to know but are interesting anyways! For example, have you ever wondered how much DNA you share with bananas? It’s more than you think.
Do Bananas Grow on Trees?
Yes! Bananas grow on trees. In fact, banana trees are pretty interesting plants. They’re actually giant herbs, not trees, and they can grow up to 30 feet tall! Each “tree” only produces one bunch of bananas, and then it dies back to make way for new trees to grow. The bananas themselves grow in clusters, with each individual fruit growing from a “hand” of bananas.
It’s pretty neat to think about all those delicious bananas growing way up high on a tree (or herb, technically!). And of course, when it’s time to harvest, workers have to climb up and cut down the whole bunch at once.
Do Bananas Have Seeds?
The answer is a little more complex than you might think. While most fruits have visible seeds, bananas are a bit unique. Technically, they do have seeds, but they’re incredibly small and underdeveloped, which means they’re not viable and won’t grow into new banana trees. In fact, most bananas that we eat today are actually seedless, because they’ve been selectively bred over time to be that way. So, while you won’t find any large seeds in your banana, there are still some small ones lurking inside!
Are Bananas Healthy?
Yes! They are a great source of potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function. Bananas are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber, all of which are essential for good health.
How to Choose Bananas
Choosing the perfect bananas at the grocery store can sometimes feel like a bit of a mystery, but there are a few things you can look for to ensure that you pick the best ones.
- Color: Take a look at the color of the bananas. If you prefer your bananas on the greener side, look for ones that are still slightly green at the tips. If you prefer your bananas to be a little riper, look for ones that are more yellow. Just keep in mind that as bananas ripen, they become sweeter but also softer and more prone to bruising.
- Give them a squeeze: Give the bananas a gentle squeeze to make sure they’re firm but not too hard or too soft.
- Check out the stem: Take a look at the stem at the top of the bunch – if it’s still green and intact, that’s a good sign that the bananas are still fresh.
How to Keep Bananas Fresh
Maintaining the freshness of bananas can be a bit challenging, but there are some tips to help extend their shelf life. One way is to store them at room temperature until they are ripe. Once they reach the desired ripeness, they can be moved to the refrigerator to help slow down the ripening process. This works especially well if you’re not planning to eat them right away.
Another method is to separate each banana from the bunch and wrap the stem of each banana with plastic wrap. This helps to prevent the release of ethylene gas which causes bananas to ripen quickly.
You can also freeze ripe bananas and use them later for smoothies or baking. Just be sure to peel them first and store them in an airtight container.
Preventing Sliced Bananas From Turning Brown
If you’ve ever cut up a banana and then left it for a little while, you might have noticed that the slices can turn brown pretty quickly. But there are some ways to prevent this from happening!
- Citrus Juice: One thing you can do is sprinkle the sliced bananas with a little bit of lemon juice, which can help to slow down the oxidation process that causes the browning. You can also try soaking the slices in a mixture of water and lemon juice for a few minutes before using them.
- Honey Water: Another option is to dip the slices in a mixture of honey and water, which can help to coat them and prevent the air from getting in.
Even with the above methods you will still see some browning on sliced bananas. This happens because when you cut into a banana, you expose the flesh to oxygen in the air. The oxygen causes a chemical reaction that produces melanin, which is the same pigment that gives your skin its color. When melanin is produced in the flesh of a banana, it causes the brown discoloration that you see.
The good news is that while browned banana slices may not look very appealing, they’re still perfectly safe to eat – so go ahead and enjoy them even if they’re not as pretty as they once were!
How Much DNA Do We Share with Bananas?
It might surprise you to know that we actually share quite a bit! In fact, researchers estimate that we share about 60% of our DNA with bananas. That might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that we share about 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees (our closest living relatives), it puts things into perspective! So, while we might not look or act much like bananas on the outside, we actually have a lot in common with them on a genetic level. It’s pretty amazing to think about all the ways that living things are connected, even across different species.
12 Easy Ways to Use Ripe Bananas
Looking for some delicious and easy recipes to use up ripe bananas? Here are 18 of our favorites:
The BEST Healthy Banana Bread Recipe
This easy banana bread recipe is made with whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup! The moist and tender banana bread is perfect with your morning cup of coffee or as an afternoon snack.
Banana Cake with Browned Butter Rum Frosting
Fluffy homemade banana layer cake with a sweet brown butter frosting! The whole thing is finished off with crunchy chopped walnuts and a drizzle of rum syrup.
These simple banana bars are big on banana flavor. A tender layer of banana cake is topped with cream cheese frosting and crunchy chopped walnuts.
Banana Split Pie (No-Bake Dessert)
This creamy no-bake banana split pie is the perfect dessert for hot weather! Made with a simple graham cracker crust, pineapples, cherries and whipped cream, every bite of this luscious dessert tastes like a classic banana split.
Banana Graham Muffins
Soft and fluffy banana muffins topped with a crisp graham-crumb topping. These cozy muffins are pretty much hand-held banana crumb cakes. Yum!
Banana Nutella Frozen Yogurt Pops
These creamy homemade banana pops combine nutella and frozen yogurt into one refreshing treat. This easy dessert idea is perfect scorching summer days.
Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats
This healthy make-ahead breakfast idea is full of banana flavor. Fresh banana slices are mixed with smooth peanut butter, spices and old fashioned oats for a simple breakfast idea.
The Best Banana Pudding Recipe
This luscious banana pudding recipe is made with Chessman cookies, fresh banana slices and a creamy filling. The end result is a decadent no-bake dessert that’s super simple to put together.
Banana Blueberry Muffins
Fluffy homemade muffins made with mashed banana and fresh blueberries! These bakery-style muffins have the perfect amount of sweetness and are the perfect way to start the day.
How to Make Banana Ice Cream: 4 Ways
Learn how to make banana ice cream in 4 flavors: chocolate, mint chip, strawberry and vanilla! This simple vegan dessert comes together in a snap and makes a creamy, satisfying treat.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Loaf
This recipe combines the classic flavors of bananas, chocolate and peanut butter into a tender homemade quick bread. Grab a big slice and pour yourself a cold glass of milk!
Want to find even more ways to use ripe bananas? Be sure to check out our recipe finder!