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Tropical Fruit - (Back To Fruit Info)
- To ripen green bananas, put them into a plastic bag, seal it and place the bag in a warm place like on top of your refrigerator. This will cause the bananas to heat up which speeds the ripening process. You can also put other green fruit like peaches and pears into the bag with a ripe banana, and they will ripen faster as well!
- You can freeze bananas! Just peel and store in plastic bags up to 6 months.
- Thaw and drain frozen extra-ripe bananas and use in baked goods... or slice frozen into blender drinks. Have for breakfast, snack, refreshment or as a frosty ice cream-like dessert without all the extra fat or calories.
- Sauté green-tipped bananas until brown in just enough margarine or cooking spray to coat. Serve as a side dish or "starch" with chicken, pork or even fish.
- As the green color of bananas turns to yellow, the starch in the fruit turns to sugar.
- Alexander the Great discovered bananas in his conquest of India in 327 B.C.
- Bananas don't grow on trees, as is commonly believed. They grow on compacted, water-filled leaf stalks that grow up to 25 feet high. They are the world's largest herb. (Source: The Packer, 9/9/89)
BANANAS - REGULAR (CAVENDISH)
Usage: Eating fresh, baking breads, in fruit salads and cooking.
Selection: Depending on your preference for ripeness, bananas should have even coloring except for the tips (which may be slightly green on a ripe fruit). Small to medium-sized bananas are often thought to have better flavor, but this is not always the case.
Do not refrigerate bananas until they are ripe. When you put them into the refrigerator they will turn black, but the insides will ripen slower.
Avoid: Avoid bananas with soft spots, black and moldy stems or patches of different colors. Gray-yellow or dull yellow bananas are an indicator of improper temperature handling and will probably not develop full flavor.
BANANAS - BURRO
Usage: Eat fresh, baked, or add to fruit salads or desserts.
Selection: Also called a Chunky banana, this banana looks like a regular banana but is shorter and more square. The flavor of the burro banana is a tangy lemon-banana mixture.
When ripe, the skin of the burro banana is yellow with black spots. The flesh is creamy white or yellow and the fruit will be soft with some firmness toward the center when ripe.
Avoid: Avoid bananas with soft spots, black or moldy stems. Gray-yellow or dull yellow bananas are an indicator of improper temperature handling and will probably not develop full flavor.
BANANAS - PLAINTAIN
Usage: Cooked or fried when green - used in dessert dishes when ripe.
Selection: Also called Platano, good-quality plantains look like over-ripe bananas with dark spots and scars, but they should be fairly firm. The best plantain for frying is still green-skinned.
Avoid: Avoid product that has completely black skin and is soft or has spots of mold.
BANANAS - RED
Usage: Used for baking.
Selection: Good-quality red bananas are slightly soft and the skin will be purple or maroon-red. Slight scars do not affect quality.
Avoid: Avoid product that is extremely soft, completely black or spotted with mold around the stem.
CARAMBOLA (STAR FRUIT)
Usage: Eaten fresh, in salads & juiced. Tart variety is used in jams.
Selection: Also called star fruit, good-quality carambola is fairly firm, and the skin will be yellow with no green tinges. Slight browning along the edges is normal. There are two varieties - sweet and tart.
Avoid: Avoid product that is soft, blemished or has excessive browning along the edges.
Usage: Fruit salads, baked desserts, puddings, custards and pies.
Selection: Good quality coconuts will be juice heavy for their size. You can hear the milk inside a coconut when it is shaken.
Avoid: Avoid coconuts without liquid inside or those with cracked husks and wet or moldy eyes.
Usage: Jellies, preserves, sherbets, fruit drinks or for breakfast.
Selection: Guava is native to the Caribbean. The skin is green or yellow and can be either pear-shaped or round. Guava flesh can be white, red or salmon-colored. Good quality guava should be picked as you would an avocado - it should be stored at room temperature until it gives to gentle pressure. Scar and scuff marks are natural and do not affect the quality.
Avoid: Avoid product that is overly soft or has soft spots that are visibly discolored.
Usage: Eat raw or in fruit salads.
Selection: Good-quality kiwifruit will be fairly large, smooth skinned and slightly soft to the touch when ripe. Kiwifruit that is very hard to the touch will ripen if left at room temperature.
Avoid: Avoid product that is too small, has wrinkled skin or is overly soft.
Usage: In fruit salads or out of hand. Can be frozen & used in jam.
Selection: Good-quality mangoes will yield slightly to gentle pressure when ripe. The coloring will be deep red and/or rich yellow with only a blush of green at the most. (Very green mangoes are used in certain dishes) Medium to large mangoes are generally best. A ripe mango will smell fairly fruity on the stem end as long as it is not cold.
Avoid: Avoid product that is too small, too soft or wrinkled. Green mangoes are used for cooking, but will ripen if kept at room temperature.
Usage: Eaten fresh, in fruit salads, as a garnish or dessert.
Selection: Good-quality papayas will be fairly large, 1/2 yellow or more and slightly soft when ripe.
Avoid: Avoid product that is too soft or has scars or blemishes. Papayas with no yellow will ripen if left at room temperature for a few days.
Usage: Eaten fresh, in salads, gelatins and cooking.
Selection: Good-quality pineapples are firm, large and have fresh-looking green tops. Pick a pineapple with skin that is as yellow as possible with no soft spots. Yellow pineapples were allowed to ripen longer and have a higher sugar content. Once a pineapple is picked, it will not ripen. Plucking leaves from the top of the pineapple does not indicate ripeness. It may indicate the leaves are old, but says nothing about the ripeness of the fruit.
Avoid: Avoid product with dry brown leaves, soft spots, watery bruises with an unpleasant smell or patches of mold.
Usage: Peel the outer bark and eat out of hand or cut into fine strips.
Selection: Good-quality sugar cane will be firm, and the brown bark will be smooth and unblemished. Sugar cane can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Avoid: Avoid product that is soft or has spots of mold on the bark. Mold on the ends can be cut off.
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