Young and Mature Banana Leaves For Wrapping Suman

This rice cake was brought to office by Julius. This was the one and only remaining. Or, maybe it was the only one. Perhaps he brought it as his breakfast. He gave it to me immediately upon arrival. He said it was good, in fact he often buy some for snack.

It was indeed good. A mildly sweet rice cake. It suited my taste bud perfectly. I like mild tasting sweets.

While opening the rice cake, I noticed the banana leaf wrapper. It was thin but extraordinarily strong. The leaves we have been using for making suman were never this strong.

strong suman banana wrapper

Here are some past observations:

The dried banana bracts are brittle and weak. It cannot be used for tie purposes. It breaks easily when pulled or twisted. However, it become more than ten times stronger when soaked in water.

Younger banana leaves are thinner than older leaves, have lighter color but are stronger and more flexible flexible. As the leaves get older, it become thicker, color become darker and turn more brittle. A leaf is broken apart by mild blowing wind turning it to comb like structure.

Extreme care is exercised while harvesting leaves. Holding while cutting the petiole to prevent falling. And, or the place where the leaves fall is a pure grass land. Each leaf half is separated from petiole with a very sharp knife. Folded, stacked and transported with care. Any drastic movement might cause leaf breakage.

Then, each leaf are gently heated over fire. It changes the green color to a different shade, still green. Perhaps the cause is degradation of chlorophyll.  It becomes softer and stronger. Heat causes evaporation of cellular water resulting to reduced turgor pressure and more space to resist bending and pulling forces.

Fresh young leaves are stronger than mature. Then, perhaps, fresh heated young leaves are stronger than heated mature leaves. Maybe, using the first is better than the latter.

Cooking the rice cakes in water makes the leaf wrapper even stronger.

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