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Bananas are one of the Western world's favorite fruits, and the Cavendish banana is the banana most people think of when they think of bananas. Available all over the world, the Cavendish banana is often used for slicing onto cereal, making banana bread, or blending into a smoothie. Not all bananas are the same, however. The best Cavendish banana will be labeled a certain way, be a specific size, have specific characteristics, and be sold under clean, sanitary conditions.
The first thing to look for in a good Cavendish banana is labeling. Cavendish bananas are the bananas most commonly available in supermarkets. These bananas should be labeled simply "bananas." Avoid "red bananas," "dwarf bananas," and "finger bananas," which may be too sweet. Also avoid bananas labeled plantains, as these are more starchy than standard bananas, require cooking before use, and are more suited to Caribbean cuisine than for cereal or baking.
A good-quality Cavendish banana should also be a specific size. Though these bananas vary somewhat in terms of length, they should be no shorter than four inches (ten cm) and no longer than ten inches (about 25 centimeters). Bananas shorter than this may have been picked too early, while longer bananas may have spent too much time on the tree and therefore be too starchy. Small or large bananas may also not be true Cavendish bananas. While uncommon, supermarket mislabeling can happen.
Once you know you're looking at a Cavendish banana, there are other characteristics that let you know you're getting your money's worth. A quality banana should, like all fruits, feel heavy for its size. The skin should be a light green to yellow color, with dark brown or black speckles. Riper bananas have more black specs than less ripe bananas, and bananas with about 25 percent speckling are perfectly ripe. Those with less speckling need more time to ripen, and those with more are over-ripe and should be avoided unless you plan to freeze them.
Lastly, the best Cavendish banana is sold under specific conditions. Bananas should never be stored under or near misters, as excess water can cause them to rot. A good Cavendish banana should also look and smell fresh, with no signs of dirt, mold, or other contaminants. Banana bins should be clean and well-maintained, as should the produce scales and floors of the produce department. Any visible spills should be cleaned up promptly, and if they are not, buy your bananas elsewhere.
What about a banana that looks and tastes like a Cavendish, but has a tough core that resists slicing onto cereal even with a medium sharp knife? I certainly could not slice this core when the fruit was slightly overripe.
Is this a new variety? I bought it at Trader Joe's.
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