An acidic banana
The recent banana blog received plenty of attention and so I continue on this theme. Another very tasty Thai banana variety is ‘Gluay hak muk’ (Musa acuminata x balbisiana (ABB)). A more international cultivar name is ‘Silver Bluggoe’. The small fruit is characterized by prominent angles and a silvery sheen when green. It is commonly sold in the Chiang Mai markets and a large specimen is grown at Dokmai Garden. The plant may become so tall you need a ladder to reach the bananas. Like the ‘Gluay nam wa’ banana, ‘Gluay hak muk’ is a drought resistant clone. Although many bananas with ABB genome (hybrids of the two species M. acuminata and M. balbisiana) are starchy cooking bananas, a yellow ‘Gluay hak muk’ has transformed much of the starch into sugars, and is delicious also when eaten raw.
Although ‘Gluay hak muk’ can be used as a cooking banana, it is not a plantain, the classical cooking banana. The Pacific plantain subgroups have an AAB genome (two sets of Musa acuminata and one set of M. balbisiana), not ABB as in the Bluggoe subgroup. True plantains are also AAB and their fruits are generally very large. Plantains are important carbohydrate sources in Africa and South America.
Tropical Garden School student Karolien Bais reported there is a Thai banana club: http://www.thaibananaclub.com/html/. She also remarked that when you search for information about ‘banana’ using internet, the serious articles drown in pornography. To narrow down the hits I suggest you search for the scientific genus name for food banana: Musa.
The silvery sheen is a characteristic of the ‘Gluay hak muk’ banana. The sheen is best seen on green bananas, which can be used for cooking. This is one of my favourite bananas due to its appealing acidity when yellow.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell