July 17, 2024

Bananas are a breakfast and snack staple. For one thing, the sweet yellow fruits are a must-have ingredient for morning smoothies and oatmeal. Even when they become a little too ripe (which, let’s be honest, we all let happen from time to time), bananas are still useful for baking delicious banana bread or muffins.

The bananas that are likely sitting on your counter now are the Cavendish variety. What you may not know is that there are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas out there subdivided into 50 groups. Most of these varieties aren’t found in the United States (except Hawaii and Florida) but grow in warm, tropical climates around the world. Occasionally, these different varieties show up at your local market; and they are always worth a try—especially the short, chubby, flavorful Manzano bananas. Here’s what to know about these adorable little fruits.

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What Is a Manzano Banana?

Manzano bananas are about half the size of common Cavendish bananas (4 inches vs. 7 inches) and have a firm, thicker skin. Unlike Cavendish bananas (which are native to the South Pacific and Southeast Asia), Manzano bananas are native to Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

What Does a Manzano Banana Taste Like?

Manzano bananas are sometimes called Manzano apple bananas or simply, apple bananas. So—as you may guess from the name—a ripe Manzano banana has a flavor profile similar to a sweet apple or a strawberry. It’s also worth noting that while common Cavendish bananas are prime for eating when they have a bright golden-yellow hue, Manzano bananas are considered ripe (and ready for eating) when the skin is completely dark.

Manzano Banana Nutrition

Though they’re smaller, Manzano bananas contain similar nutrition to regular bananas. Here’s how they compare per one banana serving:

  • Manzano banana: 90 calories, .33 g fat, 23 g carbohydrates, 12 g sugar, 1.1 g protein, 362 mg potassium
  • Cavendish banana: 105 calories, .39 g fat, 27 g carbohydrates, 14 g sugar, 1.3 g protein, 422 mg potassium

Where Can I Buy Manzano Bananas?

It’s probably easy to find Manzano bananas year-round in their tropical climate homes, but a trip to South America isn’t the only way to enjoy one of these cuties. If you’re lucky, there are occasions where Manzano bananas could show up in local larger grocery stores. International grocery stores or Hispanic markets may also get imports of Manzano bananas. Don’t want to wait for the opportunity to try the little bananas? You can order from an online produce retailer like Etsy’s MaiOnlineShop where you’ll get five pounds of fresh Manzano bananas ($40, Etsy) delivered right to your home.

In warmer months or at specialty markets year-round keep your eyes peeled for Manzano bananas while grocery shopping. They would, of course, be delicious in any banana dessert recipe, but they are also perfectly portable for a quick, healthy snack.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to wait until Manzano bananas turn black to eat them?

    Manzano bananas are astringent, chalky, and have a tannic aftertaste when unripe. You should wait until there is no green left on the skin or, even better until the skin is very brown or black.

  • Are Manzano bananas the same thing as baby bananas?

    No. Baby bananas (which are also sweeter than common Cavendish bananas) are Lady Finger bananas and they are more thin-skinned than Manzano bananas. Lady finger bananas taste similar to Cavendish bananas but with a sweeter, creamier texture and notes of honey.

  • Can I substitute Manzano bananas in my banana recipes?

    Yes! The sweet flavor and velvety texture are perfect for fruit salads, smoothies, yogurt, pies, cakes, and puddings. Manzano bananas can also be fried into fritters, baked into bread, or dipped in chocolate and frozen. Want a sweet, healthy treat? Try turning your ripe Manzano bananas into ice cream or whipping up some Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons.

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