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What Do Red Bananas Taste Like?


Ever wondered what red bananas taste like? Unlike their yellow counterparts, it’s not every day that you’ll get to see this bright fruit. Red bananas are one of the most delicious banana varieties.

Today’s food guide will cover everything you need to know about red bananas. Learn about the red banana’s flavor and how you can use this fruit in various recipes.

Table with bunch of red bananas

What is a Red Banana?

Red bananas are a type of banana variety commonly found in Southeast Asia. They are also known as “red cavendish bananas,” “African red bananas,” or “Congo red bananas.” Red bananas are available all year round in Asia and Central America. 

Red bananas get their red skin from carotenoids. These are pigments that give vegetables and fruits their reddish peels. Moreover, red bananas have lutein and beta-carotene, which are carotenoids. Aside from giving the fruit its red tinge, these pigments also support eye health.

Did you know that there is an ornamental red banana variety? This red banana type does not produce edible fruits but has beautiful foliage. Ornamental red bananas are smaller, grown in pots, and have red-streaked leaves.

Although they can grow in most parts of the world, red bananas are not as common as yellow bananas. You can buy its yellow counterpart in any local grocery store. But the red banana is a rare variety and can be hard to find.

Red bananas are available in bulk at most produce markets. You can also buy them online, though we recommend buying from a certified store.

Red Banana Texture

Red bananas have smooth reddish to purplish peels. Before maturity, the peels are green and turn red over time. As the fruit ripens, the skin becomes wrinkled and brown spots appear. 

Ripe red bananas are firm, yet they yield under gentle pressure. The flesh is pinkish to creamy in color and very smooth. If you eat a red banana before it ripens, it can feel gritty and fibrous.

What Do Red Bananas Taste Like?

Despite coming from the same family, red bananas differ from yellow bananas. So, what do red bananas taste like? First, let’s talk about the scent.

Ripe red bananas have a fragrant vanilla-like scent. It has a perfumy quality that’s also present in other banana varieties. The smell intensifies as the fruit ripens. 

When it comes to flavor, red bananas taste like sweet raspberry. The fruit’s creamy and firm flesh complements this sweet taste. Ripe red bananas are a delicious addition to savory dishes.

Can You Eat Raw Red Bananas?

Yes, you can eat red bananas raw. They should be safe and pleasant to eat as long as they are ripe.

You can also dry slices of red banana for a chewy and crunchy treat. 

How to Distinguish a Ripe Red Banana

It’s easy to spot whether a red banana is ripe or not. If it has green spots, it’s still probably unripe. A ripe banana should have a completely red peel, soft flesh, and fragrant scent.

Red bananas will mature at room temperature over a few days. If you’re planning on letting the bananas ripe, set them on the counter or pantry. Keep red bananas away from direct sunlight or the fridge.

Warm environments can cause red bananas to ripen and spoil quickly. Storing them in the fridge where the temperature is cold can also cause the enzymes to freeze. In turn, this slows down the ripening process.

One way to quickly ripen red bananas in 24 to 36 hours is to use a paper bag. Place the bananas inside the paper bag and loosely fold the top. This process allows the enzymes to circulate the fruit and speed up the ripening process.

Red vs. Yellow Bananas

Bananas are a common ingredient in many recipes. But yellow and red bananas will have some notable differences. Here are several factors that differ red bananas from yellow bananas:

Color

The most significant difference is the color. Yellow bananas don’t have the same beta-carotene levels as red bananas. However, red bananas can appear greenish or yellowish before they mature.

Size and Texture

Red bananas are smaller and plumper than yellow bananas. Their peels are also thinner and have paler flesh. In terms of texture, red bananas are creamier and more fragrant.

Flavor

Red bananas are sweeter than yellow bananas. Their flesh has fewer fibers which makes red bananas easy to digest. There’s a distinct creamy and sweet taste, like raspberries, that you can only find in a red banana.

Storage

Red bananas also have a more solid consistency than yellow bananas. So they last longer in storage. In terms of ripening, both yellow and red bananas have the same timeline.

Availability

The only advantage yellow bananas have over red bananas is that they are more common. Yellow bananas are easier to find and cheaper to buy. In terms of cooking, you can use yellow or red bananas interchangeably. 

Nutritional Benefits of Red Banana

A single red banana can provide ample calories for the body. This fruit is also rich in essential nutrients, among many other health benefits. 

Like most bananas, red bananas are full of potassium. This nutrient is vital in regulating blood pressure. The fruit also contains lots of magnesium, which helps lower high blood pressure.

Red bananas are also high in beta-carotene. This pigment gives the fruit its red color and helps promote eye health. 

Aside from that, a red banana also has more vitamin C than a yellow banana. Vitamin C is vital when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system. Viral infections, bacteria, and radical cells are also kept away by vitamin C.

Another one of its health benefits is its fiber content. Fiber is essential in reducing inflammation and promoting good digestive health.

Lastly, red bananas have a lower glycemic index score than yellow ones. Even though red bananas taste sweeter, they are healthier in blood sugar control. In turn, red bananas may be more optimal for people with diabetes.

Recipes with Red Banana

Red bananas are versatile when it comes to the kitchen. You can use them in almost any recipe, from savory dishes to sweet desserts. Here are some tips on how to best serve red bananas:

Bread

One of the most popular recipes for red bananas is banana bread. In fact, it was the most recreated recipe during quarantine.

For this recipe, we recommend switching the yellow ones with red bananas. Not only will this make your bread sweeter, but it’ll also add hints of raspberries and creaminess. 

Ice Cream

Red bananas also taste delicious in ice cream. There’s a reason it’s a common ingredient in ice cream dishes like the banana split.

Red bananas can add a sweet compliment to flavors like vanilla, chocolate, or mint. You can chop the fruits as toppings or pair them with chocolate or caramel syrups.

Fruit Salad

Adding red bananas is another way to liven up a fruit salad. In this case, we recommend pairing red bananas with other sweet fruits.

They will taste excellent with mangos, blueberries, or pineapples. Don’t forget to add walnuts or almonds for an extra crunch.

Smoothies

Red bananas are also a perfect choice for making breakfast smoothies. Take note that bananas have a strong flavor.

So if you add red bananas to your blender, it will overwhelm any other ingredient. If you don’t mind the taste, pair red bananas with chocolate, vanilla, or green smoothies.

Dried Bananas

Another way to enjoy red bananas is to make dried or roasted bananas. There are two ways to prepare this recipe.

You can either fry or bake the bananas. Either way, we recommend coating the cut-up bananas in sugar and cinnamon.

Make sure to fry or bake the red bananas to exact crispiness and thickness. You’ll have dried banana chips that you can store for longer. Plus, it never hurts to have an extra crunch.

Broths

Did you know that adding red bananas will taste delicious in broths? In Filipino broth recipes like bulalo, it’s common for locals to add red bananas.

The fruit adds a contrasting flavor to the beefy taste and depth to the broth. In turn, the red banana absorbs the beefy broth and gives it a savory taste.

Summary

Red bananas are a banana variety known for their signature red peels. This distinct color is a result of the skin’s high carotenoid content. You can easily find these unique fruits throughout Southeast Asia and Central America.

But what do red bananas taste like? To best answer is that a red banana tastes like a raspberry. They share the same sweet flavors and creamy textures. Red bananas are perfect for bread, pancakes, and desserts.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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