Finding A Good Banana

I tell people I like bananas, but it turns out only in specific circumstances.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that ripeness is a huge deciding factor for whether or not I’ll like the taste of a specific banana. I like bananas that are sweet. Any amount of green on a banana’s skin is a deal breaker.

I like my bananas pretty soft, just a day or two away from banana-bread levels of mushiness. They need to be yellow, with some brown-ish spots on the skin. This is the sweet spot for me, pun intended. Unfortunately, this state of banana perfection only lasts a day or two. This paradoxically prevents me from buying bananas all that often, since my wife doesn’t like them and I wouldn’t be able to scarf down a whole bunch in two days. I get most of the bananas I eat from the communal kitchen at work, where they’re a relatively hot commodity.

Unripe bananas end up tasting what I can only describe as woody, or “plant-y”. The entire banana becomes a total loss for me, which always makes me sad. I hate to think I robbed someone else of banana experience just because I chose poorly.

Thanks to the beauty of the internet, I ended up learning quite a bit about bananas in the five minutes I spent searching “banana ripeness.” For one, some people apparently like green bananas. Hard for me to imagine, given how woody and stiff they taste to me. But to each his or her own.

Additionally, I learned what exactly is happening inside that famous skin as a banana ripens. The fine people at Spoon University explained that young, green bananas are full of starch, which contributes to their firmer texture. As the banana ages, this starch breaks down and turns into sugar, giving yellow/brownish bananas their sweetness. This article also adorably describes a ripe banana’s brown spots as “sugar freckles,” since they appear as a byproduct of starch-to-sugar conversion. I also might use this phrase as a new term of endearment for my wife.

Though this micro research dive into bananas did not change my taste for the sweeter, older ones, I always appreciate a greater understanding of how the world works. And in case anyone was wondering, I had to sing “b-a-n-a-n-a-s” in Gwen Stefani’s voice each time I typed the word to make sure I spelled it correctly.

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