For banana aficionados:
We have 17 species of bananas at Bali Silent Retreat and a chart you can read, to discover the purpose and characteristics of each species. How and when to harvest is a full and complicated process, unless your Balinese.If you’re Balinese you’ve grown up within the culture of many many Balinese ceremonies and offerings, using all the different types of bananas and you know which banana is used for what and when the banana is growing in the wrong position and direction – just like yoga positions This is one of the areas where instead of retreat you can expand and learn the whole new world of Bali banana culture.
Banana Ban Fo Fana, Fee Fi Fo Fana, BANANA!
How to tell if it’s ripe?
Check the leaves and bananas: The leaves are decreased in number and some of them are old and turning brown and dry. The fruit has a black tip on the top and will pop off easily. There are abundant bananas. The tree is not developing any more new little banana fruits. They need to be harvested soon before the fruit gets ripe enough that the bats and squirrels and monkeys might eat it
Check the flower: Many times the flower has been cut off for 2 reasons: 1) It makes the bananas grow bigger. 2) The flower is yummy in a Balinese vegetarian dish called ‘sayur urab’ and often gets snipped off for cooking this dish. On Wednesdays and Thursdays we feature Indonesian food at Bali Silent Retreat which often offers this banana flower dish on the buffet.
How to cut the banana bunch off the tree:
When cutting the stem of the bunch, there is often a flow of white sticky juice which then drips all over the bananas and becomes black. Because the Balinese use the bananas in their offerings, they wash this off to keep them looking beautiful. It doesn’t affect the flavor.
How to ripen the bananas?
Prepare a clay pot with banana leaves and/or other vegetation leaves such as gamal leaf to insulate the pot and keep heat inside the pot which enhances the speed of ripening. Put the bananas into the pot and cover with more leaves. Put lid upside down on top of the pot and fill the lid with rice straw, which again insulates the pot. Seal the lid onto the pot with clay soil. Set fire to the rice straw for a slow burning. This slow medium heat helps the banana ripen quickly – perhaps 2-3 days.