About 2 and half years ago, a friend of ours gave us a sucker from her banana plant. We planted it in our Southwest Florida backyard, and have enjoyed watching it grow. We just harvested our third bunch of bananas. The “bunches” you buy at the store are actually called “hands”. One stalk will produce up to 15 hands in one big bunch (up to 150 bananas all at once!)

Our backyard banana plant

The tree (technically a plant, not a tree) starts growing, and unfolds big, beautiful, dark green leaves. After about 30 leaves unfurl, the plant grows a spike. The spike bears male (see purplish pod at the end of the spike in above photo) and female flowers. The female flowers form tiny hands of bananas. Over a 7-9 month period, these hands mature into large bananas.

According to the University of Florida, banana and plantain are native to southeast Asia. Banana plants have been cultivated for thousands of years and are easy to grow. These plants are believed to have been introduced to Africa in prehistoric times.

Nutrition Fun Facts

Contrary to what you may read on the internet, bananas are a healthy food. Each banana provides about 100 calories and 3 grams of fiber. I venture to guess that if I asked you “what nutrients are in bananas?” you’d say “Potassium”.  Bananas are a good source of potassium. However, they’re also a good source Vitamins C and B6. The greener the banana, the more resistant starch it contains. As the banana ripens, more sugars form.

Soft, ripe bananas are great to sweeten a bowl of oatmeal and to mash up as a banana bread ingredient. You can freeze ripe bananas. Simply peel, and seal in airtight freezer bags. Add frozen bananas to smoothies, or mash them for baked goods. Learn more about saving money on food and food waste in my book.

How do you like to enjoy bananas?