Our property (5/8 of an acre) is ringed with banana trees on three sides. They have gotten very thick, so today our gardener, Joe Leandro, is thinning them out with his machete. Banana trees only produce one stalk of bananas, then the tree should be cut down to allow the new shoots coming up around the base of the tree room to grow. We have several types of bananas, too: plantains, chatos, apple bananas, and the very tiny ones Merlin brought by earlier today. We do not have any of the big Chiquita type bananas. I'm not sure if they even grow on the island or if only on the mainland. I just read that the two big banana companies on the mainland control 50% of the world's banana market, and most are exported to Europe.
This is a banana flower with a small stalk of bananas behind it.
This is another banana flower. I think there are male and female flowers, but I honestly don't know how to tell the difference. I like this orangey one though, it looks girly.
These are bananas growing on our trees. When my parents were here in March, Daddy tried to count the number of banana stalks growing on our circle of trees. He was able to see 13 stalks one day, but who knows how many others were hidden behind leaves or another tree.
And here is a stalk suspended from our deck, ripening. These are the little (4 inch) apple bananas and are very sweet when ripe. We never buy bananas; we have a constant supply, although Merlin said this morning that the supply does decrease in January. We keep a couple of gallon sized freezer bags full of bananas in the freezer for smoothies. Merlin said to stock up before January. We have banana smoothies about twice a week; we also make banana pancakes for breakfast a couple of times per week, and when we have a variety of other fruits, alternate with a bowl of fruit with yogurt and a sprinkle of granola.
I'm learning about the chatos which are a small plantain and are usually cooked. Chatos make good banana bread; they also make very good carmelized banana topping for french toast! Big plantains must always be cooked. If cooked when green, they are more starchy tasting; if turning yellow, sweeter; if black, nice and sweet. Hondurans cook plantains in a variety of dishes, like conch stew, or fry them and serve with the tipical breakfast (eggs, mashed beans, briny cheese slice, and ham or bologna slice) or with rice and beans. Merlin makes "flitters" for her elderly mother, a kind of fry bread filled with chatos. A favorite snack on the island (and throughout Honduras) is plantain sliced very thin and fried until crisp, like a potato chip. They sell bags of them, cheap, and they are available in different flavors. My favorite is the chili and lime flavor.
Joe just came in with another 40 lb. stalk of apple bananas! He's done an incredible job with his machete, thinning out those trees. Beautiful work.