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Kandrian bananas are smaller fruits, averaging 20 to 25 centimeters in length, and have a squat, straight, to a cylindrical shape with angular edges. The bananas grow in bunches, also known as hands, of up to ten fruits, and the peel is smooth and firm, ripening from green to yellow when mature. The peel is easily removed to reveal white flesh that is dense, soft, thick, and creamy. Kandrian bananas are mildly tart when young, developing a sweet and spicy flavor with notes of custard, vanilla, and cantaloupe as they ripen.
Kandrian bananas are harvested year-round as they do not have a consistent growing season and will vary in availability depending on the region.
Kandrian bananas, botanically a part of the Musa genus, are a rare, tropical variety that belongs to the Musaceae family. The small fruits are named after a district in Papua New Guinea, their country of origin, where bananas have been a prominent source of food for the local peoples since ancient times. Kandrian bananas were primarily localized to the island community until the late 20th century when researchers were approved to collect samples of the bananas for further examination in Europe and the United States. In the modern-day, Kandrian bananas are also cultivated in Florida and are being studied for their resistance to disease and high yields. Kandrian bananas are favored as a dual-purpose variety, frequently used in cooked applications when young and eaten fresh out-of-hand when ripe.
Kandrian bananas are a good source of potassium, which can help balance fluid levels within the body and are high in vitamins B6 and C, which can boost the immune system and control mood swings. The fruits also contain magnesium, which helps strengthen bones, reduce tension in muscles, and maintain healthy nerve functioning, while providing fiber to regulate the digestive tract.
Kandrian bananas are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking, frying, and steaming. The fruits are popularly consumed fresh, out-of-hand for their sweet flavor and soft texture when ripe and can be used as a topping over cereals and porridges, blended into smoothies, frozen and purred into ice cream, or sliced into fruit salads. Kandrian bananas are also popularly utilized as a cooking banana and can be heated when the fruits are still green and unripe to develop a starchy, potato-like consistency. Ripe Kandrian bananas can be sliced and baked into chips, deep-fried, mashed and simmered in curries, or baked into pancakes, cakes, muffins, rolls, and pies. In Papua New Guinea, Kandrian bananas are sometimes used to make saksak or sago dumplings, which is a mixture of bananas, sugar, and tapioca that is steamed in a banana leaf. Once cooked, the wrapped mixture is refrigerated, unwrapped, and served cold in coconut milk as a sweet dessert. Kandrian bananas pair well with coconut, ginger, cashews, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, blueberries, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, rum, and chocolate. The fresh bananas will keep 5-7 days, depending on the degree of ripeness, when stored in a cool and dry place.
In the Markham Valley of Papua New Guinea, there are many unique varieties of bananas, such as Kandrian, that are celebrated during the annual Banana Festival. The event was first created by Savé PNG, which is a media production company that seeks to promote diversity and preserve cultural traditions throughout Papua New Guinea. The Banana Festival has drawn over ten thousand people in previous years, and visitors can learn about the local banana varieties during the celebration and acquire new knowledge surrounding cooking and growing the fruits. A tsitsipi lattice is also constructed in the center of the festival, which is made from woven ropes and large bunches of bananas. This impressive structure can reach over twenty meters in height and is a symbol of the cultural traditions that are being passed on to future generations. It also serves as a display for the different varieties of bananas being promoted throughout the festival.
Bananas are native to Southeast Asia and were spread to tropical regions around the world through exploration, trade, immigration, and missionary work. While the history of Kandrian bananas is mostly unknown, the fruits were discovered in Papua New Guinea, where they have been growing wild since ancient times. Kandrian bananas were introduced to the Western Hemisphere in the late 20th century when they were collected for research and propagation by the International Transit Centre, which is a genebank based in Belgium that is considered to contain the world’s most extensive collection of bananas. The variety was also selected for testing and cultivation in South Florida, where it is now found through specialty growers and botanical gardens. The Kandrian bananas featured in the photograph above were grown by Miami Fruit in Miami, Florida.