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A Tale of Two Fruits

by | Aug 20, 2020 | Growing Plants

“Strawberries and Bananas feature in our Demand Farm box this week. So, I thought I would take a minute and write about these fruits, both are packed with goodness and flavour that makes them pretty much irresistible. Of course, that statement is only valid when they are grown, picked and stored correctly, which is not always what you get in the mass supermarket versions.

First of all, a couple of things – strawberries aren’t berries, but bananas are! You’d be genuinely surprised by what’s what in the 300,000 plant species that make up the angiosperms (flowering plants). The distinctions come from the number ovaries the plant has in a single flower and what part turns into the “fruit” and where the seeds end up. In strawberries, they are on the “outside”, and they are considered an “aggregate fruit”. Our commercial varieties of banana are effectively seedless and are derived from intricate hybrid crosses (naturally done). The little specs in the centre are all that’s left of banana seeds (google “Musa velutina” to see what bananas actually looked like before we got a hold of them). Just to confuse you even more bananas are also a herb, but that’s more about their trunks which aren’t really because they are not trees.

Bunch of bananas

 In this botanical hair-splitting, there’s one difference that makes a difference. This difference affects nutritional and flavour.

Bananas are climacteric, and strawberries are non-climacteric.

Now I know you are thinking well thank God he cleared that up!

Let’s try that once more, this time in plain English. Bananas keep ripening when you pick them. Think about every photo you have seen of someone carrying a bunch of bananas, and you will note they are always green. Strawberries stop ripening the minute you sever them from the plant. So, if strawberries are picked not at their full ripe potential, they will never get there. There’s a whole bunch of science around the natural plant ripening hormone gas ethylene that comes in to play and how fruits breathe (respire) that says what category a particular fruit falls in to.

Modern factory farming has used this climacteric property in tomatoes (so keeps ripening) to pick them and ship them green (unripe) and ripen artificially with ethylene. Artificially ripened tomatoes have some of the attributes of naturally ripened fruit: They are red and soft but lack the extra sugars and phytonutrients that the plant gives it. Our “sweeter bananas” from Carnarvon benefit from a much longer growing season (than Queensland) which puts more starch in the banana which turns to sugar as it self-ripens once picked.

In the case of strawberries picking them really ripe means that they don’t last too long before they begin to decay. Most industrial-scale farming feeding into major supermarkets pick them with a minimum level of ripeness (sugar) but not too much as that way they last longer in the supply chain. We don’t care about that because we pick them Thursday and deliver them to you Friday. And ours are picked at maximum perfection, red all the way through, intense sweetness and aromas. You could, of course, drive down and harvest your own, and that’s fun, and you should do that sometime. But in the meantime, we have done that for you.

So enjoy your berry banana and your not berry strawberry but enjoy them ripe and sweet and full of goodness.

Red, ripe strawberries

In the case of strawberries picking them really ripe means that they don’t last too long before they begin to decay. Most industrial-scale farming feeding into major supermarkets pick them with a minimum level of ripeness (sugar) but not too much as that way they last longer in the supply chain. We don’t care about that because we pick them Thursday and deliver them to you Friday. And ours are picked at maximum perfection, red all the way through, intense sweetness and aromas. You could, of course, drive down and harvest your own, and that’s fun, and you should do that sometime. But in the meantime, we have done that for you.

So enjoy your berry banana and your not berry strawberry but enjoy them ripe and sweet and full of goodness.