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What is a Red Banana?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A red banana is a banana with a distinctive red to purple skin, rather than the more conventional yellow. These bananas originate in Costa Rica, where they are extremely popular, and they are widely eaten in other parts of Central America. Many large markets also carry red bananas, to cater to Central American populations or people who want to get experimental with their bananas. Some people claim that the flavor of red bananas is superior to that of the Cavendish, the classic yellow banana carried in most stores which stock produce.

The skin of a red banana may be anywhere from dark red to almost purple, and the flesh is cream to slightly pink in color. These bananas are plumper and smaller than Cavendish bananas, with a sweet, creamy flavor. Sometimes, there may be a hint of a berry taste in a red banana, and these bananas are also very aromatic.

Ideally, red bananas should be eaten when they are soft, but not mushy. In the store, consumers should look for an even-colored, dark skin which shows no signs of cracks, pits, discoloration, or mold. If the bananas are not perfectly ripe, they will ripen in a few days at room temperature, and refrigeration is generally not advised for red bananas, because it can make them extremely mushy. A red banana will also emit ethylene gas, so people should be careful about storing these bananas next to other fruits, as the gas hastens ripening.

Like their yellow cousins, red bananas can be eaten plain, sliced into fruit salads, included in baked goods, dried to make banana chips, or fried as a side dish. These bananas make an excellent snack food, being high in potassium; for people who sometimes suffer from muscle cramps, adding more bananas (of any color) to the diet can help reduce cramping after exercise or stress.

People who want to grow a red banana bush can do so if they live in a tropical to semi-tropical area, roughly between USDA zones eight and 11. Bananas also have very interesting foliage which can make them nice ornamentals in addition to fruit producers; it generally takes around nine months for a banana bush to mature and produce fruit. Well-drained soil, full sun, and protection from the wind are critical for a banana bush. Once the fruit matures, the bush should be lopped back to the ground, allowing a new bush to grow and produce fruit.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon930771 — On Feb 05, 2014

They can take a week or two to ripen. Don't eat them unless they are soft to touch and peel easily.

By anon155871 — On Feb 24, 2011

I just had my first red banana and it was very starchy and rather dry. It sat on my counter at room temp for four days so I thought it would be ripe. Anyone have any tips?

By anon51043 — On Nov 02, 2009

If you peel bananas from the bottom, the "stringy" stuff usually stays with the peel! Learn something new every day, right?

By anon41085 — On Aug 12, 2009

In the store I got my red banana in, they said to peel from the bottom. It seems silly to me. Any one know why? We got them at meijers if it helps. Please, help!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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