Japanese farmers have managed to make a special variety of banana called the Mongee banana, which you can eat without peeling off the skin. The skin is considerably thinner than normal bananas and tastes far less bitter, making it completely edible.
Scientists at D&T Farm developed an innovative method called “Freeze-Thaw Awakening” to make the Mongee banana. This process involves recreating conditions from 20,000 years ago at the end of ice age. Plants had the ability to grow after harsh winter temperatures. To replicate those conditions, the scientists froze banana saplings to -60 degrees Celsius and planted them again as they began to thaw.
This activated an ancient part of their DNA allowing the plants to thrive in Japan’s cold climate while accelerating its development. While a normal banana requires two years to grow large enough for consumption, the Mongee banana can do so in only four months.
The first batch of the Mongee bananas hit the shelves of the department store in November last year. It is still very hard to get your hands on one of the fruit as the D&T Farms only produce ten bananas a week. Furthermore, these are only delivered to the Fruit Corner of Tenmanya Okayama, a local department store. If you happen to find one in the store, you might be put off by the price, which is 648 yen ($5.70) per fruit.
These bananas are sweeter than a regular banana due to their high sugar content of 24.8 grams instead of the average 18.3 grams. They have a stronger smell and have a tropical taste. The Mongee banana has to be completely ripe to be edible and cannot be consumed before brown spots start to appear on their skin.
As mentioned earlier, the peel of these bananas is much thinner and much less bitter. Even though it is more bitter than the flesh, it does not taste good if eaten separately. But, if it is eaten along with the banana, it tastes completely okay due to the high sugar content and has a lot of benefits. It is “an excellent ingredient that can contain vitamin B6 and magnesium related to the synthesis of serotonin” according to the D&T Farms. “Research results that ripe fruit peels have inhibitory effect on prostatic hypertrophy has also been published,”
Since they are grown in the cooler climate, they have no natural predators and do not need to be sprayed with pesticides. We might still be years away from bananas with edible skin all around the world but it is a comforting thought it is indeed a possibility.