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May 17, 2020
Food Almanac: Banana Varieties

Go bananas with just how many varieties of our favorite panghimagas are available in the Philippines! How many of these did you know about?

Lakatan

  • Also known as Mapang
  • Most common found in Manila
  • Grown all over the country
  • Has a bright, saturated yellow hue
  • Perfect-thickness peel
  • Distinct yellow-orange flesh
  • High levels of Vitamin A
  • Balanced taste of sweet, tangy, and custard-y
  • Has a moist texture with a substantial bite
  • When frozen and blended for ice cream or smoothies, has a dense texture

Latundan

  • Also known as Tundan (Cebu), Turdan (Tagalog), Cantong (Misamis Oriental)
  • Also common in Manila
  • Most common among dessert varieties around Philippines
  • Said to have been introduced from India by French clergyman, “Letondal”
  • Fatter shape compared to Lakatan
  • Pointier shape towards the end
  • Paler in hue
  • Thinner peel
  • Pale, almost white flesh
  • Tangier and more tropical in flavor
  • Fluffier, less dense textures
  • Slippery and creamy as you chew
  • Filipino elders recommend this kind to be fed to babies because of its soft texture

Saba

  • Also known as Cardaba, Dippig (Ilocos)
  • Short, stubby, fat, and thick
  • Cooking-type
  • Has a thick peel
  • Eaten and cooked similar to plantain
  • Said to be the “most important cultivar”
  • Wide variety of uses in Philippine cuisine
  • Firmer texture
  • Is generally less sweet compared to other dessert bananas
  • Subjecting it to heat gives a satisfying starchy chew
  • Depending on ripeness pre-cooking, can be sweet and tangy towards the center
  • Can be eaten raw, somewhat sour
  • Sweet, tangy, aromatic flavor and a moist, sticky interior while retaining the meaty, leathery, chewiness on the outside when very ripe
  • Has a variety called “Super Giant Saba”
    • Has a strong jack-fruit like aroma
    • Very sweet, tangy, extremely creamy, and buttery
    • The flesh has a pink hue
    • Speculated to be the “Datu” variety from Quezon

Señorita

  • Also known as Cariñosa, Cuarenta Dias, Arnibal (Negros Occidental), Monkoy (Negros Oriental), Surat-sut (Bicol), Lungsuranon (Surigao)
  • Smaller in scale compared to others, measuring in at 3 inches long and 1.3 inches thick on average
  • Can be occasionally found in the Metro
  • Similar characteristics to Lakatan
  • Thin peel
  • Yellow-orange peel and flesh
  • Flesh has a firm but creamy and more buttery texture
  • Has sweet and aromatic flavor, less tangy and more custard-y with a hint of “grassy”

Cavendish

  • Most widely-grown and traded banana in the world
  • Similar overall shape as lakatan but bigger with a less saturated yellow hue
  • Develops freckle-like spots as it ripens
  • “Cleanest” and “flawless” looking at its proper ripening making it popular for export
  • Generally blander than other varieties.
  • Lighter, fluffier texture, but not as creamy
  • Not much bite
  • Great for freezing due to its light texture that makes it better for a ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ sensation compared to other varieties

Lagkitan

  • Also known as katali, botolan (Palawan)
  • Common in southern Tagalog region
  • Can be eaten raw or cooked
  • Pale yellow similar to Saba
  • Shape similar to Latundan, becoming rounded around the stem but pointy at the tip
  • Tastes like a cross between Saba and Latundan, firm like saba with the thin peel and sweet& tangy taste of Latundan
  • Slippery texture
  • Occasionally may have seeds in the centers

Bulkan

  • Shares many similarities to Lagkitan
  • A sweet, tangy, “bubblegum-y” flavor
  • Smooth and waxy-creamy texture
  • Occasional presence of seeds
  • Slightly more vivid yellow peel color as it ripens
  • More rounded shape overall, especially toward the tip

Morado

  • Also known as raines na pula, Gloria (Tagalog), Tadiao Tumbaga (Sulu), Tinumbaga (Surigao)
  • Its name ‘morado’ means purple in Spanish, from its unique hue that is purplish-red
  • Uncommon in the Metro
  • More common in areas such as Mindoro and Baguio
  • Overall larger in size, takes longer to ripen compared to others
  • Thick red peel that turns more orange-yellowish tinge as it ripens
  • Pale-yellow flesh with a texture similar to Lakatan or Latundan but firmer
  • Rounded, creamy with subdued sweetness with notes of pineapple and “grassy” hints similar to Señorita

Inabaniko

  • Also known as binendito, domino (Cebuano), oremos (Cagayan Valley), ripping
  • Its clusters resembles a closed human fist with tightly packed fingers
  • Flesh is similar to Saba with firm, chewy, “meaty” texture
  • Tangy taste with “grassy” quality, sometimes having a vanilla flavor quality

Bungulan

  • Also known as buñguran (Bicol), buluñgan (Cebu), balañgon (Negros Occidental and Iloilo)
  • Starts green and stays green, even when ripe only getting slightly more yellowish around the tips
  • Texture and taste are similar to Lakatan
  • Has a great balance of sweetness, tanginess, and creaminess with more melon-like, bubblegum notes
  • Said to be great for banana cakes and breads as it can overripen easily without notice

Utungan

  • Suspected to be “Pelipia” Cultivar which is common in Mindanao
  • Said to get its name from how its tips resemble “utong” or nipples
  • Similar in form to Saba
  • Its flesh resembles a cross between Saba and Lakatan – firm but not as rubbery as Saba with the creaminess of Lakatan when at the right stage of ripeness
  • When eaten raw and rips it has a distinct flavor that is sweet, lush, and tangy with pineapple-like notes

Tindok

  • Also known as tondoc (Tagalog)
  • Described to be the most popular plantain in the Philippines
  • Comes as huge, long pieces with pointy ends that resemble nipples
  • Has a dense potato-like consistency with tight fibers and has slight tang and sweetness beneath the vegetal flavors when cooked while still green
  • Eaten raw and ripe, has a waxy texture that is more dense than chewy
  • Deep orange hue similar to Lakatan when ripe
  • Carries only a small bit of its vegetal flavor over when it is ripe, like a cross between Lakatan and Señorita