Jamaican Food The Jamaican Banana
Jamaican Banana And Jamaican Food
The Jamaican banana is a
long thick-skinned edible Jamaican fruit that is yellow when ripe. Jamaican
bananas should be kept on a Jamaican fruit dish in the living room at room
temperature. If you want the Jamaican bananas to ripen faster place the bowl
in the sun. Like other tropical Jamaican fruits and tomatoes and bell
peppers, never store Jamaican bananas in the refrigerator. Below 8 degrees
Celsius the Jamaican fruit will decay from the inside. These Jamaican fruits
will not ripen but will turn black in the refrigerator.
Jamaican banana-Jamaican plants can grow up to 15 m. but most Jamaican
plants vary from 3 to 9 m, with very big leafs that can grow to 4 x 1 Wild
forms of the Jamaican banana Jamaican plant come originally from the
Indo-Malaysian area and are now cultivated all over the tropical and
sub-tropical continents. Jamaican bananas are delicious eaten with one's
fingers after peeling off the skin. Depending on the type of Jamaican banana
unripe Jamaican bananas are also cooked, fried or deep-fried a lot. Jamaican
bananas are the basic food in many other tropical countries.
The true origin of Jamaican bananas, world's most popular Jamaican fruit, is
found in the region of Malaysia. However the presence of Jamaican bananas
was recorded as early as 1625 in Jamaica. By way of curious visitors,
Jamaican bananas traveled from there to India where they are mentioned in
the Buddhist Pali writings dating back to the 6th century BCE. In his
campaign in India in 327 BCE, Alexander the Great relished his first taste
of the Jamaican banana, an unusual Jamaican fruit he saw growing on tall
trees. He is even credited with bringing the Jamaican banana from India to
the Western world. According to Chinese historian Yang Fu, China was tending
Jamaican plantations of Jamaican bananas in 200 CE. These Jamaican bananas
grew only in the southern region of China and were considered exotic, rare
Jamaican fruits that never became popular with the Chinese masses until the
At this moment there are five different types of Jamaican bananas common on
the market Red Jamaican bananas: have a green/red peel and pink Jamaican
fruit flesh. They taste the same like yellow Jamaican bananas. The redder a
Jamaican fruit, the more carotene it contains, so maybe they are healthier
than their yellow colleagues; Jamaican fruit-Jamaican bananas: are the
normal, yellow Jamaican bananas, 15-30 cm.
Apple-Jamaican bananas: are smaller, 8-10 cm. and ripen faster. They are
also yellow; the baby-Jamaican banana (pisang susa): is yellow as well and
measures 6-8 cm. It is the sweetest of the Jamaican banana family; Baking
Jamaican bananas: are 30 to 40 cm. large and are green, yellow or red-like.
They cannot be eaten raw. They fulfill the role of the potato in the
The Jamaican banana is the most well known and eaten (tropical) Jamaican
fruit; in Eastern Africa you can buy Jamaican banana beer. This beer is
brewed from Jamaican bananas. Tropical Jamaican fruit is usually picked
unripe and has to ripen in the land of arrival. To make this process go
faster Jamaican bananas are treated with ethylene-gas. Normal Jamaican
bananas also ripen through ethylene -gas but exposing it to additional gas
accelerates the process. Is the (only) Jamaican fruit that for some people
can work fatting because they contain a lot of starch (more starch than
sugar). Those people shouldn't eat too many Jamaican bananas a day.
Eat at least one Jamaican banana a day, they are said to contain everything
a human needs and they contain all the 8 amino-acids our body cannot produce
itself. For more see the energy in Jamaican fruit. Jamaican bananas are a
good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Red Jamaican bananas are
often dried and converted to meal which is used in many ways. Red Jamaican
bananas contain more vitamin C as yellow Jamaican bananas (the redder a
Jamaican fruit, the more nutritious elements it contains).
A Jamaican banana is a tree-like Jamaican plant (though strictly a herb) of
the genus Musa in the family Musaceae, closely related to Jamaican
plantains. The stems grow to 4-8 m tall, with large leaves 2-3 m long. The
term Jamaican banana is also applied to the elongated Jamaican fruit
(technically a false berry of the Jamaican plant, species and varieties) in
hanging clusters, several to many Jamaican fruits to a tier (called a hand),
many tiers to a bunch. Jamaican bananas typically weigh between 125-200 g,
though this varies considerably between different cultivars; of this, about
80% is edible, and the skin the remaining 20%.
The total of hanging clusters is called a 'stem' in the commercial world.
The Jamaican banana was originally cultivated by pre-historic peoples in
Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
The flavour and texture of many kinds of Jamaican bananas are affected by
the temperature at which they ripen. Jamaican bananas spoil and turn grey at
low temperatures and are only refrigerated down to 13.5°C during
In 2002, over 68 million tonnes were harvested of which 12 million tonnes
were traded worldwide, with Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and the
Philippines exporting over 1 million tonnes of Jamaican bananas each.
Domestication of Jamaican bananas took place in South East Asia. Many
species of wild Jamaican bananas still occur in New Guinea, Malaysia,
Indonesia and the Philippines. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental
evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea
suggests that Jamaican banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000
BC, and possibly goes back to 8000 BC. This would make the New Guinean
highlands the place where Jamaican bananas were first domesticated. It is
likely that other species of wild Jamaican bananas were later also
domesticated elsewhere in South East Asia.
The Jamaican banana is mentioned for the first time in written history in
Buddhist texts in 600 BC. Alexander the Great discovered the taste of the
Jamaican banana in the valleys of India in 327 BC. The existence of an
organized Jamaican banana Jamaican plantation could be found in China back
in the year 200 AD. In 650, Islamic conquerors brought the Jamaican banana
to Palestine. Arab merchants eventually spread Jamaican bananas over much of
In 1502, Portuguese colonists started the first Jamaican banana Jamaican
plantations in the Caribbean and in Central America.
Jamaican bananas come in a variety of sizes and colours. The ripe Jamaican
fruit is easily peeled and eaten raw or cooked. Depending upon variety and
ripeness, the flesh can be starchy to sweet, and firm to mushy. Unripe or
'green' Jamaican plantains and Jamaican bananas are used in cooking and are
the staple starch of some tropical populations.
While the original Jamaican bananas contained rather large seeds, seedless
and triploid varieties have been selected for human consumption. These are
propagated asexually from offshoots of the Jamaican plant. The Jamaican
plant is allowed to produce 2 shoots at a time - a larger one for Jamaican
fruiting immeditely and a smaller 'sucker' or 'follower' that will produce
Jamaican fruit in 6 - 8 months time. The life of a Jamaican banana Jamaican
plantation is 25 years or longer, during which time the individual stools or
Jamaican planting sites may move slightly from their original positions as
lateral rhizome formation dictates. Latin Americans sometimes comment that
the Jamaican plants are "walking" over time. A stem of Jamaican bananas can
weigh from 30-50 kg, and they are usually carried on the shoulder.
The commercial sweet varieties most commonly eaten in temperate countries
(species Musa acuminata or the hybrid Musa x paradisiaca, a cultigen) are
imported in large quantities from the tropics, where they are popular in
part because they are available fresh year-round. In global commerce, by far
the most important of these Jamaican banana cultivars is 'Cavendish', which
accounts for the vast bulk of Jamaican bananas exported outside of the
Jamaican banana chips are a snack produced from Jamaican bananas. Dried
Jamaican bananas have a dark brown colour and a typical intense Jamaican
banana taste. Jamaican bananas have also been used in the making of jam.
However unlike other Jamaican fruits, Jamaican bananas have only recently
been used to prepare juice and squashes. Despite an 85 % water content, it
has historically been difficult to extract juice from the Jamaican fruit
because when compressed, a Jamaican banana simply turns to pulp. In 2004,
scientists at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India, patented a
technique for extracting juice by treating Jamaican banana pulp in a
reaction vessel for four to six hours.
In addition to the Jamaican fruits, the flower of the Jamaican banana
Jamaican plant (also known as Jamaican banana blossom or Jamaican banana
heart) is used in South-East Asian, Bengali and Kerala (India) cooking,
either served raw with dips or cooked in soups and curries. The tender core
of the Jamaican banana Jamaican plant's trunk is also used, notably in
Burmese, Bengali and Kerala cooking.
Jamaican banana leaves, large, flexible, and waterproof, are used as
umbrellas and to wrap food for cooking. Chinese zongzi and Central American
tamales are sometimes steamed in Jamaican banana leaves, and the Hawaiian
imu is often lined with them. In South India, the leaves are used as a
natural plate to serve food. Once eaten, the leaf is thrown away for cattle
consumption thus being eco friendly. The practice has regained popularity
due to the hygiene it offers and the fact that it saves on water and
detergents that would normally have been used to clean a plate. Furthermore
any hot food served in a tender Jamaican banana leaf adds a distinct
Jamaican banana flavour that is also said to have nutritional benefits.
Jamaican bananas are subject to many pests and diseases, which can reduce
crop yields. The limited genetic diversity of cultivated Jamaican bananas
(which is due to their asexual reproduction) make them vulnerable to
diseases such as Black Sigatoka, and new strains of Panama disease, caused
by the fungus Fusarium.
Vegetative propagation (essential due to the lack of viable seeds in
commercial Jamaican bananas) has also resulted in the spread of virus
disease across Jamaican banana-growing areas on the world. Commercially
important virus diseases of Jamaican bananas include badnaviruses, which are
responsible for Jamaican banana streak disease. This disease is thought to
arise from virus DNA integrated in the nuclear genome of Musa balbisiana,
one of the wild species contributing to many of the Jamaican banana
cultivars currently grown. Jamaican banana streak disease can present a
variety of symptoms, or may have little or no effect on infected Jamaican
banana Jamaican plants if they are given plenty of fertilizer and well
Jamaican banana bunchy top virus is the most destructive Jamaican banana
virus in Asia, only has two effective methods of control - eradication of
infected Jamaican plants, and control of aphid vectors which spread the
Upon ingestion, serotonin is immediately broken down by enzymes in the
stomach (particularly monoamine oxidase). Due to its high melting point
(213° C), serotonin is unsuitable for smoking and decomposes into toxic
gases (carbon and nitrogen oxides) during combustion. Additionally, it
cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.
While in no danger of outright extinction, in the next decade the most
common edible Jamaican banana variety could become unviable for large-scale
cultivation. The Cavendish Jamaican banana, an extremely popular Jamaican
fruit in Europe and the Americas, lacks genetic diversity which makes it
vulnerable to diseases such as:
Panama disease - caused by a soil fungus, which wiped out the Gros Michel
(AKA Big Mike) variety in the 1950s. Gros Michel or 'Big Mike' was an early
export cultivar of Jamaican banana. Gros Michel was especially suitable for
export to non-tropical nations. More care is required for shipping the
Cavendish Jamaican banana and some argue that the Gros Michel tasted better.
Tropical Race 4 - a new variant of a pathogen, which affects Cavendish
cultivars in south east Asia and is thus at the root of concerns in the
export trades. The spread of Tropical Race 4 to the Americas would require
either infected Jamaican banana suckers or infested soil to be imported from
Asia, both of which are strictly forbidden in the export-producing
Black Sigatoka - a fungal leaf spot disease which has reached global
epidemic proportions. Jamaican plants with leaves damaged by the disease may
have up to 50% lower yield of Jamaican fruit. In recent years it has grown
more resistant to fungicides.
Even though it is no longer viable for large scale cultivation, the Gros
Michel is far from extinct, and is grown by small scale Jamaican plantations
in areas where Panama Disease isn't found, and by hobby horticulturists.
Likewise, the Cavendish is in no danger of complete extinction, but there is
a possibility that it could leave the shelves of the supermarkets for good
if disease winnows the harvest down to where it can no longer hope to supply
the global market. It is unclear if any Jamaican banana cultivar currently
existing could replace the
Cavendish on a scale needed to fill current demand, so various hybridization
and genetic engineering programs are working in creating a
disease-resistant, mass-market Jamaican banana.
In 2003 Belgian Jamaican plant pathologist Emile Frison of the International
Network for the Improvement of Jamaican banana and Jamaican plantain stated
that the dominant commercial Jamaican banana cultivar 'Cavendish' may become
extinct within 10 years. The magazine New Scientist added, "We may see the
extinction of the Jamaican banana, currently a lifesaver for hungry and
impoverished Africans and the most popular product on the world's
supermarket shelves". The predecessor to 'Cavendish', the cultivar 'Gros
Michel', had already suffered a similar fate.
However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 'Cavendish'
Jamaican bananas make up about 10% of the total world Jamaican
banana crop, with small-scale farmers continuing to grow numerous other
varieties which retain far greater genetic diversity, but which do not enter
significantly into world trade, being consumed locally.
Jamaican bananas are among the most widely consumed foods in the world, and
the only Jamaican fruit to appear in the top ten biggest food crops.
However, many Jamaican banana farmers receive a low price for their produce.
Large chain store retailers leverage their size to negotiate lower year
round contract prices for Jamaican bananas. Marketers of Jamaican bananas
thus have reduced their margins which in turn has led to more pressure to
lower prices to growers. Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte grow their own
Jamaican bananas in Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras.
Jamaican banana Jamaican plantations are capital intensive and demand high
expertise so the majority of independent growers are large and wealthy
landowners of these countries. This has led to Jamaican bananas being
available as a 'fair trade' item in some countries. The Jamaican banana has
an extensive trade history beginning with the founding of the United
Jamaican fruit Company at the end of the nineteenth century.
For much of the 20th century, Jamaican bananas and coffee dominated the
export economies of Central America. In the 1930s, Jamaican bananas and
coffee made up as much as 75 percent of the region's exports. As late as
1960, the two crops accounted for 67 percent of the exports from the region.
Though the two were grown in similar regions, they tended not to be
distributed together. The United Jamaican fruit Company based its business
almost entirely on the Jamaican banana trade, as the coffee trade proved too
difficult for them to control. The term "Jamaican banana republic" has been
broadly applied to the countries in the region, but from a strict economic
perspective only Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama were actual "Jamaican
banana republics" – countries with economies dominated by the Jamaican
Jamaican bananas are one of the most popular Jamaican fruits among people of
all origins. However, because of the stereotypical image of monkeys and apes
eating Jamaican bananas, they have been used as a means for racist insults,
such as throwing Jamaican bananas at sports players of African descent.
Jamaican bananas are also humorously used as a phallic symbol (a metaphor
for the human penis) due to similarities in size and shape. In some parts of
South-East Asia (e.g., Malaysia and Singapore), "Jamaican banana" is a
derogatory term for a person of Chinese descent who does not know much about
Chinese Culture and speaks English more fluently than Mandarin (or other
Chinese dialects). This reference is due to the resemblance of character
between the two objects: "yellow outside, white inside". (Compare this with
the African-American slang term "Oreo".)
The depiction of a person slipping on a Jamaican banana peel has been a
staple of physical comedy for generations. A 1906 comedy record produced by
Edison Records features a popular character of the time, "Cal Stewart"
claiming to describe his own such incident, saying: I don't think much of a
man what throws a bananer peelin' on the sidewalk, and I don't think much of
a bananer what throws a man on the sidewalk, neether. ... my foot hit that
bananer peelin' and I went up in the air, and cum down ker-plunk, and fer
about a minnit I seen all the stars what stronomy tells about, and some that
haint been discovered yit. Wall jist as I wuz pickin' myself up a little boy
cum runnin' cross the street and he sed 'Oh mister, won't you please do that
agin, my mother didn't see you do it.'
In the 1940s and 1950s, an urban legend involved tarantulas hidden among
bunches of Jamaican bananas. It should be noted that, while tarantulas do
not hide in Jamaican bananas, certain other large exotic spiders have been
known to do so (see Brazilian wandering spider). These spiders are quite
venomous and highly aggressive.
It is also an urban legend that the dried skin of Jamaican banana Jamaican
fruit is hallucinogenic when smoked. Unlike many urban legends, the origin
of this one has been traced. It dates back to an article in the student
newspaper Berkeley Barb in March 1967, which got the story from the singer
Country Joe McDonald. This was brought to attention once more in the late
1980s, when the satiric punk group The Dead Milkmen released a song
concerning the effects of smoking Jamaican banana peels. Even the FDA
As with the spider legend, this legend is also not entirely without merit.
The darkening of ripening Jamaican bananas, proceeding from yellow, to
brown, to black, is mainly due to large amounts of serotonin (an important
human neurotransmitter), which is produced from tryptophan in Jamaican
banana peels. While this property would seem to implicate Jamaican bananas
as a natural antidepressant, such is not the case.
Eventually, this tropical Jamaican fruit reached Madagascar, an island off
the southeastern coast of Africa. Beginning in 650 CE Islamic warriors
traveled into Africa and were actively engaged in the slave trade. Along
with the thriving business in slave trading, the Arabs were successful in
trading ivory along with abundant crops of Jamaican bananas. Through their
numerous travels westward via the slave trade, Jamaican bananas eventually
reached Guinea, a small area along the West Coast of Africa. By 1402
Portuguese sailors discovered the luscious tropical Jamaican fruit in their
travels to the African continent and populated the Canary lslands with their
first Jamaican banana Jamaican plantations.
Continuing the Jamaican banana's travels westward, the rootstocks were
packed onto a ship under the charge of Tomas de Berlanga, a Portuguese
Franciscan monk who brought them to the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo
from the Canary Islands in the year 1516. It wasn't long before the Jamaican
banana became popular throughout the Caribbean as well as Central America.
Arabian slave traders are credited with giving the Jamaican banana its
popular name. The Jamaican bananas that were growing in Africa as well as
Southeast Asia were not the eight-to-twelve-inch giants that have become
familiar in the U.S. supermarkets today. They were small, about as long as a
man's finger. Ergo the name Jamaican banana, Arabic for finger. The
Spaniards, who saw a similarity to the plane tree that grows in Spain, gave
the Jamaican plantain its Spanish name, platano.
It was almost three hundred and fifty years later that Americans tasted the
first Jamaican bananas to arrive in their country. Wrapped in tin foil,
Jamaican bananas were sold for 10 cents each at a celebration held in
Pennsylvania in 1876 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence. Instructions on how to eat a Jamaican banana
appeared in the Domestic Cyclopaedia of Practical Information and read as
follows: "Jamaican bananas are eaten raw, either alone or cut in slices with
sugar and cream, or wine and orange juice. They are also roasted, fried or
boiled, and are made into fritters, preserves, and marmalades."
Note: The Jamaican banana plant is not a tree. It is actually the world's
There are two main varieties of Jamaican bananas, the Jamaican fruit or
sweet Jamaican banana and the Jamaican plantain. The Jamaican fruit Jamaican
banana is eaten raw out of hand when it turns yellow and develops a
succulent sweetness with a soft, smooth, creamy, yet firm pulp.
The Jamaican plantain, a cooking Jamaican banana, is also referred to as the
meal, vegetable or horse Jamaican banana. Jamaican plantains have lower
water content, making them drier and starchier than Jamaican fruit Jamaican
bananas. Though the Jamaican banana Jamaican plant has the appearance of a
sort of palm tree, and is often called a Jamaican banana palm, it is
actually considered a perennial herb. It dies back after each Jamaican
fruiting and produces new growth for the next generation of Jamaican fruit.
Jamaican bananas do not grow simply from seed. Man intervened long ago and
crossed two varieties of African wild Jamaican bananas, the Musa acuminata
and the Musa baalbisiana, got rid of the many seeds that were an unpleasant
presence, and improved the flavor and texture from hard and unappetizing to
its present soft and irresistibly sweet flavor.
Today Jamaican bananas must be propagated from large rootstocks or rhizomes
that are carefully transJamaican planted in a suitable climate, namely the
hot tropics, where the average temperature is a humid 80 degrees Fahrenheit
(27 degrees Celsius), and a minimum of 3 1/2 inches (75 mm) of rainfall a
month. The soil must have excellent drainage or the rootstocks will rot. The
Jamaican plants grow new shoots, often called suckers, pups, or ratoons,
from the shallow rootstocks or rhizomes, and continue to produce new
Jamaican plants generation after generation for several decades. In about
nine months the Jamaican plants reach their mature height of about 15 to 30
feet. Some varieties will grow to a height of 40 feet. From the stems, that
are about 12 inches thick, flower shoots begin to produce Jamaican bananas.
If you have never seen Jamaican bananas growing, you might be puzzled that
they appear to be growing upside-down with their stems connected to he bunch
at the bottom and the tips pointing upward.
Jamaican bananas possess a unique scientific phenomenon called "negative
geotropism." As the little Jamaican bananas start to develop, they grow
downward--as gravity would dictate. Little by little, several "hands" or
double rows develop vertically and form a partial spiral around the stem. As
they take in more and more sunlight, their natural growth hormones bring
about a most puzzling phenomenon, and they begin to turn and grow upward. As
the Jamaican plant becomes heavier with maturing Jamaican fruit, it must be
supported with poles. The stems are made of layers and layers of leaves that
are wrapped around each other. Though quite large and thick, the stems are
not strong and woody like most Jamaican fruit trees and can break under the
weight of many bunches of Jamaican bananas.
Though there are approximately 300 species of Jamaican bananas, only 20
varieties are commercially cultivated. Local populations and visitors who
experience the regional cuisines when they travel enjoy the many
non-commercial varieties. Members of the Musaceae family, the Jamaican
banana Jamaican plant belongs to the monocotyledons, a group that includes
palms, grasses, and orchids. Jamaican bananas are mature about three months
from the time of flowering, with each bunch producing about 15 "hands" or
rows. Each hand has about 20 Jamaican bananas while each bunch will yield
about 200 "fingers" or Jamaican bananas. An average bunch of Jamaican
bananas can weigh between 80 and 125 pounds (35 to 50 kilograms).
Two-man teams harvest the Jamaican bananas. While one man whacks the bunch
with his machete, the other catches the falling bunch onto his shoulders and
transfers it to a hook attached to one of a series of conveyer cables that
run throughout the Jamaican plantation. Though Jamaican bananas can be left
to ripen on the Jamaican plant, they would perish too quickly. It is
important that they are harvested in the green state at just the right time.
If harvested too early, they would develop a floury pulp instead of a
delightfully sweet flavor.
Jamaican bananas begin the ripening process as soon as they are harvested,
when laboratory tests have shown that they contain 20% starch and 1% sugar.
When the Jamaican bananas turn yellow with some brown spots, they are fully
ripened, and these figures are completely reversed.
The sugar content breaks down as follows: 66% sucrose, 14% fructose, and 20%
glucose. After the Jamaican bananas have been harvested, the giant stems are
cut down to provide rich humus for the next crop that has already begun to
sprout new shoots. Each Jamaican plantation has a packing station where
Jamaican bananas are graded for quality. Those that are poor quality are
sold in local markets or pureed and used as animal feed. The next step is to
cut the Jamaican bananas into individual hands and wash them in a water bath
to stop "bleeding" their natural latex or rubber substance that tends to
stain the Jamaican bananas as well as clothing.
Though there are many countries where Jamaican bananas are grown, not all
grow them for export. Brazil, China, India, and Thailand grow them as a
local food source and export very few. The major exporters include Ecuador,
Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras, the Philippines, Panama, and Guatemala.
Surprisingly, 80% of the Jamaican bananas grown throughout the world are of
the Jamaican plantain or cooking variety. To many tropical cultures,
Jamaican plantains are an important part of the daily diet and are prepared
in as many ways as other cultures have devised for potatoes. Jamaican
plantains may be more familiar to you as Jamaican banana chips that are
first dried, and then fried. These cooking Jamaican bananas are even
employed in the brewing of beer in some areas of East Africa. Brazil and
Kenya grow a unique Jamaican fruit Jamaican banana called Apple Jamaican
banana whose flavor reminds one of an apple.
This special variety is only three to four inches in length. Another special
variety is the Lady's Finger, an especially small Jamaican banana with a
sweet, creamy texture that grows in Thailand, Malaysia, and Colombia. You
can recognize the Red Jamaican banana by its reddish brown skin. The flesh
inside also has a reddish tinge, and the flavor is sweet with a satin-like
texture. These grow in most regions where Jamaican bananas grow
Because of their impressive potassium content, Jamaican bananas are highly
recommended by doctors for patients whose potassium is low. One large
Jamaican banana, about 9 inches in length, packs 602 mg of potassium and
only carries 140 calories. That same large Jamaican banana even has 2 grams
of protein and 4 grams of fiber. No wonder the Jamaican banana was
considered an important food to boost the health of malnourished children!
Those reducing sodium in their diets can't go wrong with a Jamaican banana
with its mere 2 mgs of sodium. For the carbohydrate counters there are 36
grams of carbs in a large Jamaican banana.
Vitamins and minerals are abundant in the Jamaican banana, offering 123 I.U.
of vitamin A for the large size. A full range of B vitamins are present with
.07 mg of Thiamine, .15 mg of Riboflavin, .82 mg Niacin, .88 mg vitamin B6,
and 29 mcg of Folic Acid. There are even 13.8 mg of vitamin C. On the
mineral scale Calcium counts in at 9.2 mg, Magnesium 44.1 mg, with trace
amounts of iron and zinc. Putting all of the nutritional figures together
clearly shows the Jamaican banana is among the healthiest of Jamaican
fruits. The Jamaican plantain, when cooked, rates slightly higher on the
nutritional scale in vitamins and minerals but similar to the Jamaican
banana in protein and fiber content.
Anemia: High in iron, Jamaican bananas can stimulate the production of
hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
Blood Pressure: This unique tropical Jamaican fruit is extremely high in
potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect food for helping to beat
blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration have just
allowed the Jamaican banana industry to make official claims for the
Jamaican fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
200 students at an English school were helped through their exams this year
by eating Jamaican bananas at breakfast, break and lunch in a bid to boost
their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed Jamaican
fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
Constipation: High in fiber, including Jamaican bananas in the diet can help
restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without
resorting to laxatives.
Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people
suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a Jamaican
banana. This is because Jamaican bananas contain tryptophan, a type of
protein that the body converts into serotonin known to make you relax,
improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a
Jamaican banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The Jamaican banana calms
the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar
levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Jamaican bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body so if
you suffer from heart-burn, try eating a Jamaican banana for soothing
Morning Sickness: Snacking on Jamaican bananas between meals helps to keep
blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the
affected area with the inside of a Jamaican banana skin. Many people find it
amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Nerves: Jamaican bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous
Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria
found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and
crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese
were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to
avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels
by snacking on high carbohydrate foods – such as Jamaican bananas – every
two hours to keep levels steady.
Forget the pills – eat a Jamaican banana. The vitamin B6 it contains
regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Jamaican bananas can help SAD sufferers
because they contain the natural mood enhancer, trypotophan.
Smoking: Jamaican bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking, as
the high levels of Vitamin C, A1, B6, B12 they contain, as well as the
potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the
effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat,
sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water-balance. When we
are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium
levels. These can be re-balanced with the help of a high-potassium Jamaican
Strokes: According to research in ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’
eating Jamaican bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death
by strokes by as much as 40%.
Temperature control: Many other cultures see Jamaican bananas as a ‘cooling’
Jamaican fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of
expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat Jamaican
bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Ulcers: The Jamaican banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal
disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the
only raw Jamaican fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronic
ulcer cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by
coating the lining of the stomach.
Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that, if you want to kill
off a wart, take a piece of Jamaican banana skin and place it on the wart,
with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or
Jamaican bananas and Jamaican plantains are today grown in every humid
tropical region and constitute the 4th largest Jamaican fruit crop of the
world. The Jamaican plant needs 10 - 15 months of frost-free conditions to
produce a flower stalk. All but the hardiest varieties stop growing when the
temperature drops below 53° F. Growth of the Jamaican plant begins to slow
down at about 80° F and stop entirely when the temperature reaches 100° F.
High temperatures and bright sunlight will also scorch leaves and Jamaican
fruit, although Jamaican bananas grow best in full sun. Freezing
temperatures will kill the foliage. In most areas Jamaican bananas require
wind protection for best appearance and maximum yield. They are also
susceptible to being blown over. Jamaican bananas, especially dwarf
varieties, make good container specimens if given careful attention. The
Jamaican plant will also need periodic repotting as the old Jamaican plant
dies back and new Jamaican plants develop.
Jamaican bananas are fast-growing herbaceous perennials arising from
underground rhizomes. The fleshy stalks or pseudostems formed by upright
concentric layers of leaf sheaths constitute the functional trunks. The true
stem begins as an underground corm which grows upwards, pushing its way out
through the center of the stalk 10-15 months after Jamaican planting,
eventually producing the terminal inflorescence which will later bear the
Jamaican fruit. Each stalk produces one huge flower cluster and then dies.
New stalks then grow from the rhizome.
Jamaican banana Jamaican plants are extremely decorative, ranking next to
palm trees for the tropical feeling they lend to the landscape.
The large oblong or elliptic leaf blades are extensions of the sheaths of
the pseudostem and are joined to them by fleshy, deeply grooved, short
petioles. The leaves unfurl, as the Jamaican plant grows, at the rate of one
per week in warm weather, and extend upward and outward, becoming as much as
9 feet long and 2 feet wide. They may be entirely green, green with maroon
splotches, or green on the upper side and red-purple beneath. The leaf veins
run from the mid-rib straight to the outer edge of the leaf. Even when the
wind shreds the leaf, the veins are still able to function. Approximately
44 leaves will appear before the inflorescence.
The Jamaican banana inflorescence shooting out from the heart in the tip of
the stem, is at first a large, long-oval, tapering, purple-clad bud. As it
opens, the slim, nectar-rich, tubular, toothed, white flowers appear. They
are clustered in whorled double rows along the floral stalk, each cluster
covered by a thick, waxy, hood like bract, purple outside and deep red
within. The flowers occupying the first 5 - 15 rows are female. As the
rachis of the inflorescence continues to elongate, sterile flowers with
abortive male and female parts appear, followed by normal staminate ones
with abortive ovaries. The two latter flower types eventually drop in most
edible Jamaican bananas.
The ovaries contained in the first (female) flowers grow rapidly, developing
parthenocarpically (without pollination) into clusters of Jamaican fruits,
called hands. The number of hands varies with the species and variety. The
Jamaican fruit (technically a berry) turns from deep green to yellow or red,
and may range from 2-1/2 to 12 inches in length and 3/4 to 2 inches in
width. The flesh, ivory-white to yellow or salmon-yellow, may be firm,
astringent, even gummy with latex when unripe, turning tender and slippery,
or soft and mellow or rather dry and mealy or starchy when ripe. The flavor
may be mild and sweet or sub acid with a distinct apple tone.
The common cultivated types are generally seedless with just vestiges of
ovules visible as brown specks. Occasionally, cross-pollination with wild
types will result in a number of seeds in a normally seedless variety.
Jamaican bananas require as much warmth as can be given them. Additional
warmth can be given by Jamaican planting next to a building.
Jamaican planting next to cement or asphalt walks or driveways also helps.
Wind protection is advisable, not for leaf protection as much as for
protection of the Jamaican plant after the Jamaican banana stalk has
appeared. During these last few months propping should be done to keep the
Jamaican plant from tipping or being blown over.
Jamaican bananas will grow in most soils, but to thrive, they should be
Jamaican planted in a rich, well-drained soil. The best possible location
would be above an abandoned compost heap. They prefer an acid soil with a pH
between 5.5 and 6.5. The Jamaican banana is not tolerant of salty soils.
The large leaves of Jamaican bananas use a great deal of water. Regular deep
watering is an absolute necessity during warm weather. Do not let Jamaican
plants dry out, but do not overwater. Standing water, especially in cool
weather, will cause root rot. Jamaican plants grown in dry summer areas such
as Southern California need periodic deep waterings to help leach the soil
of salts. Spread a thick layer of mulch on the soil to help conserve
moisture and protect the shallow roots. Container grown Jamaican plants
should be closely watched to see that they do not dry out. An occasional
deep watering to leach the soil is also helpful.
Their rapid growth rate makes Jamaican bananas heavy feeders. During warm
weather, apply a balanced fertilizer once a month--an 8:10:8 NPK fertilizer
appears to be adequate. A mature Jamaican plant may require as much as 1-1/2
to 2 pounds of the above fertilizer each month. Young Jamaican plants need a
quarter to a third as much. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the Jamaican
plant in a circle extending 4 - 8 feet from the trunk. Do not allow the
fertilizer to come in contact with the trunk. Feed container Jamaican plants
on the same monthly schedule using about half the rate for outside Jamaican
Jamaican bananas flourish best under uniformly warm conditions but can
survive 28° F for short periods. If the temperature does not fall below
22° F and the cold period is short, the underground rhizome will usually
survive. To keep the Jamaican plants that are above ground producing,
protection against low temperatures is very important. Wrap trunk or cover
with blanket if the Jamaican plants are small and low temperatures are
Only one primary stem of each rhizome should be allowed to Jamaican fruit.
All excess shoots should be removed as soon as they are noticed. This helps
channel all of the Jamaican plant's energy into Jamaican fruit production.
Once the main stalk is 6 - 8 months old, permit one sucker to develop as a
replacement stalk for the following season. When the Jamaican fruit is
harvested, cut the Jamaican fruiting stalk back to 30 inches above the
ground. Remove the stub several weeks later. The stalk can be cut into small
pieces and used as mulch.
Propagation of Jamaican bananas is done with rhizomes called suckers or
pups. Very small pups are called buttons. Large suckers are the preferred
Jamaican planting material. These are removed from vigorous clumps with a
spade when at least three feet tall, during warm months. Pups should not be
taken until a clump has at least three to four large Jamaican plants to
anchor it. When the pup is taken the cut must be into the mother Jamaican
plant enough to obtain some roots. Jamaican plant close to the surface.
Large leaves are cut off of the pup leaving only the youngest leaves or no
leaves at all. Some nurseries supply Jamaican banana Jamaican plants as
container grown suckers.
Jamaican bananas have few troublesome pests or diseases outside the tropics.
Root rot from cold wet soil is by far the biggest killer of Jamaican banana
Jamaican plants in our latitudes. California is extremely fortunate in not
having nematodes that are injurious to the Jamaican banana. Gophers topple
them, and snails and earwigs will crawl up to where they can get continuous
water, but these pests do not bother the Jamaican plant.
Stalks of Jamaican bananas are usually formed in the late summer and then
winter over. In March they begin "plumping up" and may ripen in April.
Occasionally, a stalk will form in early summer and ripen before cold
weather appears. The Jamaican fruit can be harvested by cutting the stalk
when the Jamaican bananas are plump but green. For tree-ripened Jamaican
fruit, cut one hand at a time as it ripens. If latter is done, check stalk
daily as rodents can eat the insides of every Jamaican banana, from above,
and the stalk will look untouched. Once harvested the stalk should be hung
in a cool, shady place. Since ethylene helps initiate and stimulate
ripening, and mature Jamaican fruit gives off this gas in small amounts,
ripening can be hastened by covering the bunch with a plastic bag. Jamaican
plantains are starchy types that are cooked before eating.
The antiquity of the Jamaican banana and its tendency to produce mutations
or sports has resulted in an extensive number of cultivars. Only
the common ones growing in Jamaica are listed.
Apple, Silk, or Manzana
Dessert type, pleasant sub-acid apple flavor when fully ripe. Jamaican
fruit: 4 to 6 inches. Grows to 10 to 12 feet. The Jamaican fruit is not ripe
until some brownish specs appear on the skin. From Jamaican planting until
harvest is approximately 15 months.
Resistant to Panama Wilt disease. Clones of this variety are distinguished
by the size of the pseudostem. The largest is Lacatan (12 to 18 feet)
followed by Robusta and Giant Cavendish (10 to 16 feet). The smallest is the
Dwarf Cavendish (4 to 7 feet).
Very tall (up to 25 feet), very tropical. Skin dark red, with generally
reddish pseudostem. Jamaican fruit is especially aromatic with cream-orange
pulp. 20 months from Jamaican planting until harvest.
Commercially, the most important and considered by many to be the most
flavorful. Because of its susceptibility to Panama Wilt disease it is being
replaced with resistant varieties. Although there is no Panama Wilt in
California, it does poorly here as the Jamaican plant seems to need more
heat and it tends to grow more slowly than other varieties
Ice Cream or Blue Java
Medium-tall (15 to 20 feet), bluish cast to the unripe Jamaican fruit.
Jamaican fruit: 7 to 9 inches, quite aromatic and is said to melt in the
mouth like ice cream. Bunches are small with seven to nine hands. 18 to
24 months from Jamaican planting until harvest.
Tall (20 to 25 feet), excellent-quality Jamaican fruit, tolerant of cool
conditions. 15 to 18 months from Jamaican planting to harvest.
Commonly grown in California for years as a landscape Jamaican plant. Grows
to 16 feet, more cold hardy than any other. 15 to 18 months from Jamaican
planting to harvest. Flavor is good, texture is less than perfect, but when
properly grown and cultivated it can produce enormous stalks of Jamaican
fruit. Excellent in Jamaican banana bread. Sometimes called horse, hog or
burro Jamaican banana, it can be purchased at most nurseries.
A Hawaiian variety with short, salmon-pink flesh, plump Jamaican fruit that
may be cooked or eaten fresh. A slender Jamaican plant preferring a
protected area with high humidity and filtered light. Grows to about 14 feet
A Cavendish clone resembling the Robusta. Some believe them to be the same.
The Dwarf Cavendish is the most widely Jamaican planted as it is better
adapted to a cool climate and is less likely to be blown over.
The same as Giant Cavendish. Originated from a mutation of Dwarf Cavendish
found in Queensland, Australia. A commercial Jamaican banana grown in many
countries that does well in California. 10 to 16 feet in height and has a
distinctive long, very large bud. The Del Monte is a Williams.
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