Jamaican Food the Jamaican Banana
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Jamaican Food The Jamaican Banana

Jamaican Banana And Jamaican Food Recipes Preparation

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 20th century.

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 tropical countries.
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 transportation.

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 Africa.

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 tropics.

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 managed.

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 infection.

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 countries.

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 banana trade.

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 investigated.

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 largest herb

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 relief.

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 system.

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 banana snack.

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 surgical tape.

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 plants.

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 predicted.

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).

Cuban Red
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.

Gros Michel
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.

Lady Finger
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 tall.

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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