When a banana bears fruit, at the end of the fruit stalk there is a banana flower, banana heart, banana blossom (all the same but many names) which can be used as cooking ingredients.
Southeast Asian people like Indonesia often use banana blossom in their cooking. IF you like it, we will tell you how to use banana flower in cooking.
Using banana blossoms in food is common in Southeast Asia, the country where the banana tree originates. Regardless of what the health benefits of banana flowers are, the taste of banana heart is very good when cooked with spices and special recipes.
Apart from Southeast Asia, those who often use banana blossom as food ingredients are from Brazil but in the interior of Minas Gerais. It is also common to find banana heart in the recipes of South Indians and some African countries.
What is the Banana Flower
Before we explain further about the use of Banana Blossom in cooking, let’s get to know more about the flower or heart of banana.
Banana blossom is the tip of the banana fruit stalk. This is called a pendulum that forms at the bottom of the last bunch of bananas. Banana heart shape is like a cone, the color is purple or red heart.
Inside the blossom there is a part of the banana flower that cannot become a banana fruit anymore, it is whiter in color and has a bitter taste. The taste is similar to bamboo shoots or other tuber shoots.
Using banana blossoms in cooking is nothing new. But this is growing and more and more like it with the development of information about banana plants. Now, banana flowers are widely consumed as non-conventional food for those who are vegetarians and vegans.
When to Cut Off the Banana Flower
Cutting banana blossom is important before use it in cooking. We take it from the tree must wait a few days after first appear.
This gives time for all the bananas to emerge from their flowers, and when no more bananas emerge from the banana heart or banana blossoms, it is time to pick up the banana heart for cooking purposes.
Maybe we have to wait 15 days from the first day the banana flower appears at the tip of the tree.
After the last banana appears, there is usually a 10 cm or 15 cm gap between the banana comb and the flower, and you can easily cut the bunch or pick up the banana flower by twisting it with your hands. This is very easy to do!
How to Cook Banana Blossom
Banana blossom or banana hearts are a great food ingredient if you know how. If you feel like tasting banana flowers, take a look at the banana tree near you, maybe your neighbor’s tree, if there are flowers, ask them to cook.
Otherwise, you can get a banana heart at a traditional shop that sells various vegetables. This is your chance to try banana blossom dishes.
Ok, before we take the flower for using in cooking, first of all we have to clean it. If you not know how to, let see the guides and step by step cooking banana flower.
What do banana blossom look like?
Looks like you have to know first what the banana flower looks like. So, here we will explain about the banana flower, its shape and how it is structured.
The banana blossom consists of a banana ovary, and heart-colored purple leaves called bracts.
The buds attached to the banana bunch consist of 3 components, what are they:
- calyx or calyx, these are the leaves located at the outer base of the petals.
- Flower petals
- Flower pistil; These are the internal components that are like sticks that are said to be banana ovules.
While the center of the Flower is the heart of the flower, when you peel the bracts, you find a soft, pale and similar part like the heart of a palm or like a bamboo shoot (if you have ever eaten bamboo shoots), on another occasion we will explain about bamboo shoots use in cooking.
How to clean the banana flower
Now suppose we already know the part or structure of the banana blossom or banana heart. We will be easy to clean it for the preparation of banana flower recipe. To clean it, we have two methods, pay close attention.
Method 1 (Common in India)
Usually, this kind of method is practiced in India, it may take longer.
- Take a bowl and pour salt and water, add vinegar and lemon juice. This solution will prevent oxidation.
- Remove the purple leaves or bracts and separate them if you want to use them as a serving plate, otherwise you can throw them away because we don’t use them as food.
- Also remove the inner bracts which are lighter in color, i.e. pink, but don’t throw them away.
- You will see there are florets on the bracts, remove them, separate the petals and put them in a bowl.
- Hard bracts, sepals and pistils must be separated and discarded
- Repeat this section until you get to the core of the banana heart.
- Remove the stem
- Cut the heart and make long slices
- Cut the pink bracts, and the petals,
- Everything is put in a bowl to prevent oxidation
- The longer you leave it in the bowl, the bitterness will disappear
- You can soak in water for about 30 minutes
- When finished soaking, rinse with cold water
Watch the video below on how to remove banana flower pistils, sepals and pistils.
Method 2 (Common in Southeast Asia and Brazil)
Apart from the method above, there are other ways to prepare banana flowers before cooking. This second method is a common method used in Brazil and Southeast Asia, this method is easier and more practical.
- Take a bowl and add salt and water, add lemon juice and vinegar. Same as method 1, this will prevent oxidation of the banana blossoms.
- Remove or separate the purple leaves (purple flowers), and throw them away unless you want to serve them as a serving dish.
- Between the bracts there are buds, remove the buds and separate the petals, put them in a bowl that has been given anti-oxidation liquid. Sepals, bracts, and pistils must be separated because they are not suitable for eating.
- When you reach the pinker leaves, leave them and don’t throw them away. But cut everything into thin slices.
- Remove the stem
- Put everything in a bowl that has been given an antioxidant solution, this is useful to prevent vegetables or banana blossoms from being oxidized.
- The longer it stays in the bowl, the less bitter it will taste. You can soak in the water for 30 minutes and when you take it, don’t forget to rinse with running water.
Dishes and Recipes
Banana flowers can be cooked in various ways. Asians usually make banana flower salad. There are also those who make curry, and saute it or even fry it.
Brazilians use banana blossoms as a filling for pastries, pies and quiches. An example is “pastel de angu de Itabrito“, the food of the Minas Gerais state area.
To be made as a side dish, you should choose banana flowers that are still young and taste not too bitter. Mix chopped banana flowers with grated green papaya or grated carrots. Also use mint, onion, nuts, lemon, salt and mix it all together. Then enjoy!