Where To Find Banana Blossoms In The US

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Can you eat a banana blossom? Yes, you absolutely can. But first, before embarking on a challenge to actually find one, make sure you understand what's considered the "blossom" on a banana tree. It could be quite different than you'd imagine.

If you've visited tropical locales, particularly in India, Sri Lanka, or Southeast Asian countries, you may have seen bananas growing on actual trees rather than stacked in crooked little supermarket produce piles. Long before an actual banana comes to fruition, banana blossoms appear, as on other fruit trees. But these are not like the tiny pink or white cherry and apple blossoms — they're much larger and take the shape of giant teardrops cloaked in crimson-purple hues.

Dangling at the end of a thick banana-fruit stem, the fragrant banana blossoms are more than just royal harbingers of future yellow-skinned banana fruits. They're edible and texturally adaptable in many recipes, such as Yum Hua Plee, depending on preparation and intended use. The purplish exterior petals, known as bracts, get peeled back to reveal packed layers of cream-toned edible petals, similar to artichokes.

Those blossoms also harbor dense amounts of beneficial insoluble fiber as well as antioxidants, protein, and essential amino acids. They've increasingly joined the parade of plant-based food alternatives, particularly as a substitute for fresh fish. The main issue is where to find these relative newcomers to the U.S. palate and dinner table. Fortunately, they're slipping into a few mainstream food outlets, along with some reliable niche markets.

How to snag some banana blossoms in the United States

Like any specialty food item, locating banana blossoms, also known as banana flowers or banana hearts, takes some effort in the U.S. mainland. Your best bet for walk-in access to the blossoms is in larger Asian markets and sometimes small family-owned ones. But you're in luck if you live in a city large enough to host a Whole Foods Market.

Whole Foods Market offers banana blossoms in packaged versions, including ones brined in water, lime juice, and sea salt. Instructions on the package suggest drying out the blossoms with a clean, dry towel and then seasoning them with lemon juice, chopped dill, and optional kelp before battering them and frying them like a fillet.

Shopping online broadens access, with Amazon and other internet-based sellers offering the same brined banana blossoms as Whole Foods. They're a product of Upton's Naturals, which provides a detailed recipe for what it calls "Pub-style fish n' chips gone vegan." In addition to its Amazon Storefront, a map on the company website pinpoints venues across the United States that sell its products. However, it's advisable to call first to verify availability.

Another way to find banana blossoms is in canned products such as Nature's Charm Banana Blossoms, available from Amazon and smaller online stores such as Souley Green and Asian Veggies. Finally, keep an eye out for online stores selling dried banana blossoms, which can be rehydrated for soups, salads, and curries.