Yes. Yes, we did.
And no, we’re not binge-watching the Smurfs again.
Blue bananas are an actual, real thing that you can see—and, even better, taste!—in actual, real life. Because sometimes the world is just too cool.
Blue Banana Blues
So what’s the deal?
Bananas are known almost as much for their color as their distinctive shape, typically considered the yellowest thing this side of the Simpsons. (Okay, sorry, we’ll turn the cartoons off now.)
Leave it to Southeast Asia, then, to flip the script.
Yes, the land of hot pink dragon fruit and Koosh ball rambutans is also the birthplace of the blue banana – which officially goes by the Blue Java Banana, and sounds like the best-tasting drink Starbucks never made.
In this case, Java references the Asian island that’s home to the blue banana’s parents, Musa balbisiana and Musa acuminate. And while the two wild banana breeds themselves sport the all-too-familiar green-to-yellow hue, something magic happens when they get together. If an extra chromosome crops up from the Musa acuminate, it kicks off the brilliant skin tone of their colorful kid.
The result is something stunning: anything from an icy blue to bright turquoise exterior that would make any other fruit green with envy.
And while the bananas can lose some of their pigmented punch while they ripen, fading to a light silver or sometimes a soft green, we love them just the same—because, with blue bananas, as with people, it’s not just what’s on the outside that counts.
We All Scream For Ice Cream… Bananas?
The Blue Java Banana goes by many nicknames, but its most delicious is the ice cream banana—a name it mostly goes by in Hawaii, where people definitely know their exotic fruits, and know their cold desserts.
What the moniker lacks in originality it more than makes up for in accuracy, describing exactly the kind of taste – and texture – the blue bananas deliver.
Aside from their brilliant hue, the bananas are renowned for their delectable flavor, which registers like vanilla ice cream or vanilla custard. The flesh is also much softer than a typical banana, making a bite of Blue Java Banana more Ben and Jerrys than Chiquita.
Their strange and scrumptious combination of texture and taste also make ice cream bananas a great option for smoothies or milkshakes, where they can stand in for vanilla ice cream. And while we’re also fans of just eating them raw and enjoying all their natural specialness, ice cream bananas are also often baked or fried in their native Southeast Asia, similar to the culinary stylings of a plantain.
Still, you don’t exactly have to plan a tropical vacation to get your hands on the exotic treat.
Blue Java Bananas may have gotten their start on their namesake island, but they’re grown today all across the Pacific, including Hawaii (where they’re typically called ice cream bananas), Fiji (where they’re known as Hawaiian bananas), and Australia, where they don’t really have a catchy nickname.
Central America (where the blue bananas are called cenizo) is another popular place for the produce.
But no matter what name they go by, Blue Java Bananas are more of a household name than ever, with the Internet carrying news of their strange hue and incredible taste all over the world.
As their popularity has spread, so have the plants themselves, with more people flocking to order ice cream bananas online, either buying them directly or using—ahem—a fruit delivery service.
And a growing number of ambitious fruit lovers are trying their hand at growing their own Blue Java Banana trees. Seeds for the vanilla custard-tasting treat are a hot selling item on many exotic plant sites – thanks, in part, to the blue banana’s cold-blooded nature.
Like their signature shade and their soft-serve nickname, ice cream bananas are truly cool, with the tree flourishing in much colder temperatures than other bananas – and, indeed, most other tropical fruits.
In fact, the plant can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit – making Blue Java Bananas much hardier than their yellow cousins, and offering hope for aspiring green thumbs everywhere.
But whether you grow them, make a round trip out to see them or simply have them delivered, one thing you should definitely do is give the bananas a try – because missing out on this one-of-a-kind treat is one surefire way to get the blues.