Saturday, November 30, 2013

Banana leaves - best food wrapper

Dr Abe V Rotor
Banana plant (Musa sapientum L) Cavendish variety; leaves and blossom sold in the market.

Banana leaves make the best food wrapper. It is practical, multipurpose, aromatic and environment-friendly.

Imagine if there were no banana leaves to make these favorite delicacies: suman, tupig, bucayo, bibingka, patupat, puto, tinubong, biko-biko, and the like. We would be missing their characteristic flavor and aroma, and their indigenous trade mark. So with a lot of recipes like paksiw na isda, lechon, tamales and rice cooked with banana leaves lining. Banana leaves have natural wax coating which aid in keeping the taste and aroma of food, while protecting it from harmful microbes.


 Preparing leaf for tamales, first by wilting it over fire, wrapping fish (dilis) with spice and salt, finally steaming.

In the elementary, we used banana leaves as floor polish. The wax coating makes wooden floors as shiny as any commercial floor wax sans the smell of turpentine. Banana leaves when wilted under fire exude a pleasant smell. When ironing clothes use banana leaves on the iron tray. It makes ironing cleaner and smoother, and it imparts a pleasant, clean smell to clothes and fabric.

This is how to prepare banana leaf wrapper.

1. Select the tall saba variety or other varieties.

2. Get the newly mature leaves. Leave half of the leaf to allow plant to recover. Regulate the harvesting of young leaves as this will affect the productivity of the plant.

3. Wilt the gathered leaves by passing them quickly over fire or live charcoal until they are limp and oily. Avoid smoky flame as this will discolor the leaves and impart a smoky smell (napanu-os).

4. Wipe both sides of the leaves with clean soft cloth until they are glossy and clean.

5. Cut wilted leaves with desired size, shape and design. Arrange to enhance presentation and native ambiance.

Keep in your backyard at least a hill of banana (mother plant cum tillers), preferably saba variety, and you will have all the things that the banana provides - ripe fruits, green fruits for flour and pesang dalag, trunk for ties, rope and padding, puso or heart for kare-kare.

And most important, the leaves - they make the best food wrapper. ~

Other leaf-wrappers
  • Gabi (Laing)
  • Mango leaves (tamales)
  • Woven coconut leaves (sinambong)
  • Buri palm (suman)
  • Pandan (kanin, arroz valenciana)
References: Wikipedia, Living with Folk Wisdom, AV Rotor

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