Saturday, February 26, 2011

Manzanos Banana

Manzanos bananas are grown in South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. They are stocky, pale yellow, and about four inches long. 
I found the flavor described as "apple and strawberry overtones," "a delicious sweet taste with a hint of apple and strawberry," and a "combination of banana and pineapple and maybe a bit of strawberry," One website said they are ripe when their yellow skins have turned completely black. Another website said to "wait to eat it until the skin is black (not just a little black: BLACK) otherwise it is just "blah" with a tannic aftertaste. But if you wait (and I mean WAIT - like three weeks well past what you think is a reasonable wait for a banana) then you will be rewarded with a tropical disco in your mouth - smooth, creamy, pineapply, strawberry, banana love." I tried my first Manzanos after buying it at a Philippino store in Koreatown and without reading about it before-hand. The outside skin was a beautiful yellow 
and it looked short and wonderfully sized for a nice snack. 
What I bit into was horribly bitter and I ended up spitting it out into the garbage. It left a terrible aftertaste. While in San Francisco last week, Judy and I were in a produce market and I pointed out to her some Manzanos bananas. 
The proprietor, a Chinese woman that could not speak much English, pointed at me to buy them. I replied, "they're not ripe yet, they need to be black." This was, of course, after I'd read about them following my first encounter. The proprietor walked over to a bunch, pulled one off, peeled it and handed it to me. It was ripe and it was good. I now felt obligated to buy some and bought about four that I ate later that day at the airport. Meanwhile, the Manzanos I bought in Koreatown have been ripening 
and I've been eating them, one by one, as they have been progressively ripening. 
I did not wait until the peel was completely black. I think I prefer them better a little less ripe. 
Unlike some other banana types, I really like the Manzanos, despite my initial horrible unripe one. The peel is very, very thin and they bruise very easily. 
I love the size. They are a perfect size for a snack. I wish they were more available. So far, I have only seen them in small ethnic stores.

I decided to really wait on a couple of Manzanos and let the peels turn black.
As I've said previously, I'm not a major fan of real ripe bananas. The banana itself was obviously very ripe with darkening, not a bruised darkening, but a ripe darkening. 
Texturally and taste-wise, the ripe darkening was easier for me to take than the bruised darkening. The banana was more fruity and did have more taste. I did eat the whole banana. 
I think it would probably taste better in ingredient based banana recipes like banana bread than a less-ripe version. With practice and experience I could learn to like the real-ripe version, but the physical feel and look is still a little off-putting to me. 


  1. These are called "banana ma├ža" (apple banana) in Brazil, and are among the scores of banana varieties that are available there. Delicious!

  2. I grow these. If left on the tree to ripen, they are absolutely perfect inside without being mushy at all.