Bananas doing the splits
January 11, 2014 1:02 AM   Subscribe

5 out of 6 bananas I bought 2 days ago have a longitudinal split down its skin, some fully, others less so. What the hell?

My googling skills are obviously not up to scratch as I can't seem to find serious answers.

This has never happened to me in 20 years of banana eating, and though I've recently moved rooms (so may have had changes in storage conditions) the first batch of bananas last week were fine. They freak me out a bit, but are they safe to eat? How can I stop it happening again?
posted by pikeandshield to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your years of banana eating have been more charmed than mine: I've seen this many times. It's annoying if you're planning to transport the bananas, but so far 30+ years of eating them has had no ill effects on me. Usually the split's so narrow that the flesh doesn't even dry noticeably.

Not sure of the cause. With many fruits, the skin can split if they swell too quickly, perhaps due to a dry spell followed by a lot of rain. If this is the cause here, I don't know how you'd guard against it. Perhaps the best you can do is to take a look at all the bananas on the shelf when buying: they'll probably be from the same batch, so if some are already split it might indicate a higher chance that the others are prone to splitting.
posted by pont at 4:29 AM on January 11, 2014

Here is the technical reason:
Banana skin splitting can result from high relative humidity (>90%) plus high temperature (>70 F), especially in bananas that are harvested fully mature-green (round in cross section). Also, skin splitting often occurs when bananas are left on the plant until ripe because of the high temperature and high relative humidity in the production areas.
I've definitely seen this before. Totally edible.
posted by Houstonian at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2014

In addition to Houstonian's reference, here's a bit from a paper on bananas (and plaintain) someone at Dole, from the section on controlled ripening and humidity (RH):
However, temperatures of up to 20 ºC (68 ºF) are sometimes necessary for bananas (Thompson and Burden, 1995). Optimum RH levels during ripening are 90 to 95% (after coloring is underway RH should be reduced to 85% to prevent peel splitting). High RH requirements for proper ripening can be attained when the fruit is being packed in partially-sealed polyethylene liners. Exposure of ripe bananas or plantains to temperatures higher than those in the ripening range hastens softening and decay, weakens the neck, can cause splitting of the peel, and may cause poor color development.
Maybe you have inadvertently caused your bananas to continue ripening?
posted by zennie at 6:36 AM on January 11, 2014

I really recommend that you do NOT eat bananas that have splits in the skin, either what you're seeing or -- more commonly -- that have the ends cut off in the grocery store. For exactly the same reason that you don't want to eat potato salad that's been sitting out at the picnic. It's probably okay, in fact the odds are heavily in your favor, but if you run out of luck you end up with salmonella food poisoning. You don't want this. Again, you probably won't die (unless you have a compromised immune system). But your body goes into overdrive to get the salmonella out of your system, through every orifice available, very energetically, and for far longer than strictly necessary. We're not talking a little upset tummy here.

Bananas (and potatoes) are perfect breeding grounds for salmonella. Be careful. And remember that cooking probably won't help. It's been 30 years and I still can't look at banana bread with fondness.
posted by kestralwing at 7:51 AM on January 11, 2014

Wow, bananas and Salmonella? Do you have a source? (I'm not doubting you, just that I've never heard this before and would be interested to find out more)

Thanks all, reassured to know that this is a fairly recognised phenomenon.
posted by pikeandshield at 11:58 AM on January 11, 2014

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