Bananas are an easy-to-eat and nutritious fruit that has become the “go-to” snack of choice for millions. It travels well and needs no packaging. It has become so commonplace that few of us stop to think about banana facts. Here are 11 things you may not know about bananas that may just make you go bananas!
1. A banana is a berry, not a fruit. This is because botanically a berry contains seeds inside the flesh, not outside.
2. Banana does not grow on a tree but on a herb. A tree’s stem is made of wood unlike the banana’s, which is made of fibres.
3. Bananas are sterile; you can’t sow seeds and grow them. Bananas are grown by cutting a piece from another plant, sort of cloning. This means the banana you are eating today is genetically the same as the banana your grandfather ate.
4. Bananas have been cultivated for the past 10,000 years or so in Southeast Asia. From there it moved to West Asia and Africa.
5. In all likelihood bananas were first cultivated not as food but as a source of fibres that were treated and made into cloth.
6. Portuguese colonisers introduced bananas to the Americas. However, Europeans should thank French writer Jules Verne for introducing them to the fruit. Verne was ecstatic about bananas in his book Around the World in Eighty Days.
7. Bananas are radioactive! They contain small amounts of the isotope potassium-40. But for the radiation to be harmful you need to eat close to 700 bananas daily for over 80 years.
8. Bananas are in fact good for you. It fights depression, cures headaches, and helps in weight loss. Banana skins are used to treat insect bites. Bananas are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium, and folic acid.
9. The term banana republic’ was coined to describe Central American countries that depended on one single export (bananas) and were controlled by foreign businesses (in this case American). These countries were usually run by corrupt dictators.
10. The popular dessert banana split was invented in 1904 by a 23-year-old American pharmacist David Evans Strickler in Pennsylvania.
11. You do not have to bin the skin once the fruit is consumed. You can use its skin to make nutrients for plants! Banana peel water is nutrient-rich water obtained from boiling banana peels. It provides the plant with an organic source of nutrients that promotes plant growth while preventing deficiencies associated with low potassium which includes brown scorching and curling of leaf tips.
Use this method to obtain banana peel water from boiling. The amount of peels to use depends on the amount you have available at the time.
- Place the peels in a cooking pot
- Pour water and cover 1 inch above the peels
- Stir properly
- Place on medium heat (350 oF)
- Allow to boil for 30 – 45 minutes
- Strain the peels and save the water residue
- Cool and water your plants!