A little bit of history
Banana cultivation originates from South-East Asia and more specifically between India and Malaysia. In around 500 B.C., it was taken to Africa via Madagascar and in the 6th century, it was established along the Mediterranean coastline. It then reached the Canary Islands from Guinea after the African conquests by the Portuguese.
It is believed that the Spanish took the banana to America from the Canaries.
Canarian Banana Vs common banana
Why are the flavour and properties of the Canarian banana so different to the common banana? Here are a few key factors.
Amongst the main differences, the Canarian Banana has a higher degree of ripeness and spends longer growing on the plant than the tropical banana, given the smaller distance between banana production and the consumer market.
Additionally, the Canarian Banana has a higher moisture index, making it much tastier than its drier counterpart, the common banana.
In the common banana, carbohydrates, soluble sugars and sucrose values are slightly higher, lending it a more floury texture than the Canarian Banana. The latter also has higher levels of potassium content.
Finally, the weather in the Canary Islands is more variable than in tropical countries, which also results in the banana spending longer on the tree (6 months) compared to the common banana (3 months). This provides it with a higher level of ripeness, flavour and aroma.
Sources: Estudio nutricional del Plátano de Canarias (Nutritional study of the Canarian Banana), University of Navarre, Department of Physiology and Nutrition. Estudio comparativo del valor nutritivo del plátano canario y la banana americana (Comparative study of the nutritional value of the Canarian Banana and the American banana), The Complutense University of Madrid – Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Nutrition and Bromatology II
Farming the Canarian Banana
The banana tree is a monocotyledon plant from the Musa family. The main varieties that are grown in the Canary Islands are a triploid of the Musa Acuminata species.
The optimum temperature for growing bananas is around 25ºC at an altitude below 300 metres; conditions which are only found in the Canary Islands. Additionally, bananas need a good amount of light, quite a lot of humidity and sand-based soil that still has enough clay and silt, with good porosity and an acidic PH.
The period from the seeding of the mother plant until the bunch appears takes approximately 10 to 12 months. Once the bunch has formed, processes such as the tying, bagging and deflowering take place.
The tying or fastening is carried out to stop the plant from falling due to the weight of the bunch or from the wind, and protects the bananas. Bagging the bunch consists in placing a plastic covering over the bunch, encouraging the uniform filling of the fruit and preventing attacks from plagues and from rubbing marks in the field and during transportation. The deflowering process consists in manually removing the feminine flower (where the banana is born) from the end of each piece of fruit one by one.
Source: Estudio nutricional del Plátano de Canarias (Nutritional study of the Canarian Banana), University of Navarre, Physiology and Nutrition Department.