Where can I buy alternative breeds of bananas

Reading this article


made me realize I haven’t really tried any bananas other than the cavendish. When I go to the grocery stores that is usually the only variety they have. If they have any others, they may have green plantains and lady finger bananas. I don’t want to eat the plantains since those require cooking, but I haven’t tried the lady fingers.

So if there are dozens of varieties of bananas, where would I go if I want to try them out? What kind of store would have that kind of variety? An upscale grocer, a hippy/alternative grocer, or something else? I don’t know if a farmer’s market would have anything since most bananas aren’t grown domestically.

Good question and one I have also wondered. If I were to start looking, would check south Asian grocery stores and perhaps South American ones as well.

The word you’re looking for is “cultivar,” not breed. And to taste different kinds of banana, I suggest you leave the USA. Any market in Southeast Asia would be vastly happy to oblige.

There are non-Cavendish bananas in better grocery stores and produce markets in the S.F. Bay Area. Of the types available here, my favorite is the manzano (or apple) banana. It’s a miniature banana like the ladyfinger, but has a much better taste - better (in my opinion) than the mainstream Cavendish.

Most of the alternative bananas I have tried have to be dead ripe to be edible. They can be astringent if they’re even a little on the green side.

Local hispanic markets in the DFW area typically carry at least the manzana, red and baby bananas as well as the usual Cavendish variety ones.

Most of them don’t travel well, so I vote for “out of the US.” I has some bananas in Bali that were juicy. *Juicy *bananas. Who knew?!

Leave the US! In Costa Rica I had one they call the apple-banana, because it tastes sort of like an apple. Yum!

‘Manzana’ means “apple” in Spanish! You can get them here!

If we lose the cavendish, this will be the second major banana breed we’ve lost in less then a century. The gros michael was the mainstream banana up until the 1950s (IIRC) when a disease wiped it out and the cavendish replaced it.
There are labs all over the world trying to find a replacement that fits the general 1st world consumers banana desires- taste and portability.

Check ethnic grocery stores. Latin American or Asian…

And I think it’s inevitable we will lose it. All Cavendish bananas are clones. There’s no genetic diversity at all.

I thought the loss of the Gros Michel happened earlier than the 50’s, though.

Maybe 1930s? That sounds right, now that I think about it. I read a book on the subject a few years ago.

Me too! Probably the same book, because, really, how many books do we need written for the layperson about the banana?

Not so much a “loss”, as in the cultivar isn’t extinct, but rather that the disease wiped out the plantations in Central America where the US export bananas were grown in the 1950s. They still grow them for export in Thailand apparently.