Explaining Red and Baby Bananas

How do baby bananas and red bananas differ from regular bananas?

The banana most Americans think of as a “regular” banana is a variety called Cavendish. But red and baby bananas are becoming more common in grocery stores. Tasting them plain, we found the red banana to be “more floral” and the baby “coconutty” and “denser” than the Cavendish. Both were delicious, but how would they fare in our favorite banana bread recipes? One recipe calls for three mashed (Cavendish) bananas, which measures 1½ cups. To get the same cup amount, we needed seven red bananas and 11 baby bananas. The bread made with baby bananas came out slightly darker (baby bananas have darker yellow flesh), and tasters concluded that the bread made with Cavendish bananas had the most intense banana flavor. That said, all three loaves were delicious. Another banana bread recipe we like calls for microwaving the bananas to extract their juice. When we tested this one, we found that both red and baby bananas released less liquid than an equal weight of Cavendish bananas, so the breads made with those varieties were slightly drier. The baby bananas once again produced a darker-colored loaf and the Cavendish bananas yielded the most intense banana flavor...but we happily polished off all three loaves.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Expand your horizons. Try different banana varieties. The flavors and textures of red and baby bananas are somewhat different from those of the more common Cavendish banana, but they’re all delicious, and all work in recipes for banana bread.




YOUR CHOICE: Any of the above is equal to 1 1/2 cups of mashed bananas.

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