It may seem like a bit of a niche question, but it is actually quite commonly asked. Other fruits such as apples and lemons have seeds that you notice due to their difficulty to be eaten, but banana seeds get eaten with the rest of the fruit without a second thought.
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What is a banana?
A banana is botanically categorized as a fruit, more specifically a berry. This is because the seeds are found inside of the banana and there is no pit or stone which distinguishes a fruit from a berry. From a culinary perspective, a banana is still classed as a fruit. There are many banana varieties and a lot of wild bananas are very different compared to commercially grown bananas.
Origin of bananas
It is a topic of much debate but some horticulturists believe that the first fruit on earth was in fact the banana. They originate from Southeast Asia, more specifically the jungles of Malaysia. By the end of the 14th century, it was common for bananas to be internationally traded. Because of their international trading, bananas are also essential to some country’s economy. The Cavendish banana variety, also known as dessert bananas, is of huge importance to the economy of the global south and South America.
How are bananas grown?
It is a common misconception that the banana comes from banana trees or palms, it actually comes from a herb. So it is not a tree, which some find very surprising. Because of this, they do not grow from seeds but instead, they grow from bulbs that take between 9-12 months before being ready to harvest. Due to the nature of their climate, bananas grow and are available all year round unlike other fruits which are considered seasonal.
Wild bananas can look very different from commercial bananas as many countries set strict policies on how they should look before selling them. This limits the variety that is sold as they are cultivated specifically for a certain market that values aesthetics. Bananas are not always entirely yellow and some of them, despite being in perfect condition, can appear brown in color. Many people also state that a wild banana actually tastes better than a lot of commercial bananas.
Bananas are not harvested until they are fully ripe, this is harder to tell on wild species of the plant but on most bananas the color has to be in the middle of green and yellow. The edible flesh will also not be as hard when they are fully ripe and will start to soften. Banana plants are typically found in hot countries with warm temps and because of this, farmers have to keep them well irrigated as soon as they are planted and until they are ripe enough to harvest.
It can be quite an investment to grow bananas as it is very labor-intensive and also expensive to buy the land, plant the fruit and properly irrigate the entire area. Banana plants take up a lot of room so to have a farm with a high quantity, will be a lot of work.
Can you eat banana seeds?
The black seeds found in bananas are completely edible and are oftentimes too small to actually notice and may just look like tiny black dots. This is a direct effect of the intense cross-breeding that bananas have endured. Wild bananas have seeds that are quite noticeable, and sometimes are large seeds, but the commercial production of bananas has produced a plant incapable of reproducing by seeds. This is due to the genetic modifications that have happened to the banana in order for it to be more viable to grow and sell to an international market. They are genetically bred to have a nicer flavor than some other varieties and are now lacking in genetic diversity because of this. This is also why a lot of commercial bananas are also considered seedless bananas.
How are wild banana plants different?
A wild banana plant will still grow bananas but they will look quite different. These bananas have seeds are the seedless bananas are specially farmed for a commercial market. So a wild banana plant will have less typically yellow bananas on it and they will instead be a more brown color with a fruit that will produce seeds. They will also be larger seeds than the smaller seeds you find in grocery store bananas.
What to use bananas for
After reading this, you might be in the mood for eating some bananas or maybe even making a dish with them as the centerpiece. Thankfully, bananas can be used to make a lot of different foods. They can even be used as the main ingredient in pancakes which results in a naturally flavored pancake which the same great texture. No matter what the dish, bananas are always a delicious treat.
Here are some of the common recipes that bananas are used in:
- Banana bread
- Banana fritters
- Banana pancakes
- Banana split
- Banana cake
- Chocolate chip banana bars
To summarise the question and its answer, yes. Bananas do have seeds. The seeds found in commercially grown fruits will be a lot smaller and completely edible whereas the wild banana fruits will have larger seeds in them that will be more noticeable when eating the banana. The reason commercial bananas do not have seeds is because of the genetic modifications and cross-breeding that was done to produce a sweeter, tastier, and more visually appealing fruit that would sell better in other countries.
It is also worth stating again that bananas do not come from trees and in fact, are grown by a banana plant. These plants can be quite difficult to maintain and are a lot bigger than any garden you could imagine them being planted in. The farms require a lot of farmers and can be very labor-intensive.