Photo: Billion Photos (Shutterstock)
Welcome to our Master Class on banana consumption, where we will discuss the right way to peel a banana. If you’re thinking, “There is no right way to peel a banana!” you may not be ready to hear that according to none other than Chiquita herself, there is a “proper” way—and it’s probably not how you’ve been doing it your whole life.
Most of us peel from the stem down. And why not? The stem is long, it’s sturdy, and it’s just sitting there, sticking out like a banana handle, waiting to be pulled. And sometimes, when we are lucky enough to grab the fruit at peak ripeness, stem peeling can be an effective method. But if we miss the peak? If we arrive too soon, we’re met with a pressurized, intransigent hardness that must be cut; too late and we must wrangle with a mushy, bruised mess of deflated potassium dreams.
This is because, according to Chiquita, “As a banana ripens its skin loses moisture, which causes the skin cells to collapse and makes the skin thinner and more pliable.” Meaning, as the banana ripens, the stem becomes more flexible, rendering it harder to use as a peeling mechanism we so want it to be.
Why you should peel it from the “bottom”(which is actually the top)
Have you ever seen bananas in the wild? They grow in clusters, with the stem-end pointing down (which technically makes the stem the bottom, while the small brown tip on the end is the top). The stem is where the individual fruit attaches to the rest of the cluster, and also how the whole shebang stays attached to the banana tree. While not a botanically or scientifically-backed description, think of the stem as a branch, attaching the banana to its tree, with the fruit itself akin to a large, bulbous, yellow leaf.
How to properly peel a banana
When you realize the entire function of the stem is to be stiff enough to fight the laws of gravity and keep its wards literally growing up, it’s easy to see why it’s not the best access point to what’s inside. Instead of attempting to open the fruit by pulling on its toughest part, pinch the brown, nubby tip on the reverse end between your index finger and thumb for best results. The skin should should easily separate. And voila. You can now enjoy this starchy, nutrient-dense goddess minus the epic struggle that leaves an entire inch looking like it just got out of a bar fight.
Is that the way the monkeys do it?
It’s been widely circulated on the internet that the “peel from the bottom” method is the way monkeys eat bananas, but primatologist Katharine Milton told Tech Insider, “the entire wild monkey-banana connection in fact is total fabrication.” This Quora answer from a self-proclaimed “wildlife worker-researcher” is more blunt; he says the online wisdom, while satisfying, is actually “hogwash.” Apparently monkeys are more likely to eat the fruit whole, peel and all, or to split it from the side. (That said, when monkeys are fed bananas, they have been seen opting for this method.)
Regardless of what species can be credited with the method, the approach also takes care of that black pointy mass you always had to manually pull off of the (former) bottom of your banana. When you use the peel-from-the-tip method, it gets crushed and just kind of absorbed into the folds of the skin, making the whole process one step easier.
Oh, and you can use the stem as a handle while you eat. How ‘bout them bananas?