What's So Special About Robusta Bananas? 5 Things To Know

Bananas are the easiest fruit to consume and is also versatile enough to use in cooking. Robusta bananas are a popular variety of bananas known for their resilience and adaptability. Unlike the more common market varieties, which are known for their uniform appearance and mild flavour, robusta bananas have a distinctively stout shape and a stronger, slightly acidic taste. They are primarily grown in tropical regions, particularly in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, where they thrive in warm, humid climates.

Robusta bananas have a stout, blocky shape and thick, sturdy peel. They are typically shorter and thicker than Cavendish bananas, with a more robust appearance hence their name. The peel of a robusta banana is often green when unripe, gradually turning yellow as it ripens. Unlike some banana varieties, robusta bananas tend to retain a greenish tinge even when fully ripe. The flesh of a ripe robusta banana is creamy white or pale yellow, with a firmer texture compared to the softer, creamier flesh of Cavendish bananas. Here are some other things you need to know about this variety

Can it be used for cooking?

Robusta bananas are prized for their versatility in culinary applications. While they can be eaten raw like other bananas, they are also well-suited for cooking and baking due to their slightly acidic flavour and firmer texture. In Southeast Asian cuisines, robusta bananas are often used in savoury dishes such as curries and stews, where their tangy flavour complements rich, spicy flavours. They are also commonly used in desserts, both cooked and raw. Robusta bananas are frequently fried or grilled and served as a sweet snack or dessert, either on their own or accompanied by toppings such as honey, cinnamon, or caramel sauce.

How nutritious are they?

Robusta bananas offer a range of nutritional benefits similar to other banana varieties. They are a good source of essential nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and dietary fibre. Potassium is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function, while vitamin C supports immune function and collagen production. Vitamin B6 plays a role in energy metabolism and nervous system function, while dietary fibre promotes digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. 

Additionally, robusta bananas contain antioxidants such as dopamine and catechins, which may have various health benefits, including reducing inflammation and protecting against chronic diseases.

How Are They Grown?

These bananas thrive in warm, humid climates with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Robusta banana plants are relatively hardy and can tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy and clay soils, as long as they are well-drained. They require regular watering to maintain soil moisture levels and should be protected from strong winds and heavy rains, which can damage the plants and cause fruit loss. 

Robusta banana plants typically take around 9 to 12 months to produce fruit after planting. Once established, banana plants produce fruit year-round, with harvests occurring every few weeks. It's important to provide adequate nutrients to banana plants through fertilization, as they require regular applications of potassium.

How to store them at home?

Robusta bananas should be stored at room temperature until they ripen. Place them in a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Avoid storing bananas with other fruits or vegetables that produce ethylene gas, such as apples and tomatoes. Ethylene can accelerate the ripening process of bananas, causing them to become overripe faster.

While refrigeration can slow down the ripening process, it can also cause the banana peel to darken prematurely. If you prefer firmer bananas, you can refrigerate them once they reach the desired ripeness, but keep in mind that the peel may turn brown. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place unripe bananas in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple or tomato. These fruits release ethylene gas, which helps bananas ripen faster.

Can it be frozen?

If you have excess ripe bananas or want to preserve them, you can freeze them. Peel the bananas, slice them, and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, transfer the banana slices to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to several months.