Are All Banana Blossoms Edible?

I do remember something about not all puso ng saging (banana blossoms) being good for cooking, according to the older generations of our lolas. I don’t remember exactly, but I think my lola said only the bongolan variety of the banana puso can be cooked and eaten. I don’t even know what the “bongolan” variety banana looks like, much less its puso. To me, the puso/s all look alike and I cannot differentiate between the puso/s of different varieties. Although, I must admit that when I used to go marketing in Manila when I was so much younger, the puso sold for karekare was long and thin, unlike what I have been buying here. Maybe that’s the bongolan variety.

Nevertheless, I am prone to disagree with my lola (and the older generation), because of my own personal experience here. The puso that I was able to buy from the Arabic supermarkets months ago was not mapakla AFTER it was sliced thinly, mashed with salt and and sauteed or ginisa adobo style with vinegar and toyo, my favorite recipe for puso ng saging. Another time I cooked for my balae, the puso/s that had come from her two trees in the backyard, both saba variety, for sure, as I saw the banana fruits (they are called burro bananas here). I made them with gata and dried fish/bagoong alamang for flavoring. It was not mapakla. I also cooked the puso from my own banana tree that I don’t know the variety name – maybe “inarnibal”. That too was not mapakla after cooking. But until this Arabic supermarket started selling them so cheaply and so many times throughout the year, not just seasonally, I always bought the canned variety packed in brine, and just rinsed out the saltiness before adding to the cooking pot of kare-kare. But when I did splurge and bought a fresh one from the Asian supermarket for almost $4 each, that’s the only time I would make the adobong puso, a luxury for myself.

I am convinced that the sap which contains (I don’t know what), makes the uncooked puso mapakla(astringent). The pre-salting and mashing of thin slices draws out that pakla and rinsing the slices and squeezing out the water eliminates most of the pakla. But the heat of cooking is what I believe finally negates that astringent component/ingredient in the puso and thus makes it edible. Because as it is cooking, and you can test at different stages, you will notice that as it completes cooking, the astringent taste completely disappears.

In conclusion, I do not think the variety of bananas makes a difference. I think that all edible bananas will produce an edible puso. But just like apples which have different best uses for different varieties depending on the end-product you are making whether pie filling or just cut up for salads, etc, some bananas are good for eating uncooked, while others are good boiled, and still others can be dried as chips, cooked in syrup, etc.

What do you think?

An article submitted by Cristina Lee.


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