30 Jul2007

“Morado” Bananas

by Marketman


Driving around Cebu last week, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted some humongous bananas that were a dark red, almost purple. They were stunning and impressive looking. I had seen those only once or twice in my life before, so I made a mental note to buy some so that I could taste them and feature them on the blog. A few hours later at the office, I asked some of the crew to go buy me some and they spent several hours scouring the city of Cebu for the illusive red bananas, re-tracing the routes I had passed earlier in the day and there were no big red bananas to be found. As you can imagine, any lengthy discussion about bananas inevitably ends in a bunch of giggles, what with comparisons of size, color, consistency, taste and what not. :) I don’t mean to be crude, but most of you understand what I mean. And worse, when I asked locals why it had such a name, some suggested it was the fruit of a male banana tree and forget my retort of “how can a male tree give birth”? I am currently reading a book called “Pig Perfect” and apparently the same sort of giggles inevitably breaks out when folks make sausages from intestinal casings, the process just being too suggestive to ignore…

These red bananas are locally referred to as “Morado” or literally translated from Spanish, “purple” bananas. It seems they are a specific variety of bananas, not morado2odd mutants of green ones or yellow ones. In Central and South America, they are a distinct class of edible bananas, and amusingly, referred to as “Morado chico” (photo above) or small purple banana and “Morado grande” or large purple banana… I definitely wanted the large version for the photo… but they were nowhere to be found after my initial sighting. One of the office crew went to the Carbon market late one evening and had a bunch of folks sift through the contents of a large delivery truck filled with bananas to find these few bunches of “Morado chicos” in the photos above. And the taste? A slightly different kind of sweet, with a tinge of sour and a stronger aftertaste than lacatans or latundans. Now when, oh when, will I find the “Morado grande” again…

Still craving more bananas? Check these out:

Lacatan, Latundan and Senorita Bananas
Saba or cooking bananas



  1. Cumin says:

    Years ago, a friend told me that in his hometown in Bicol, the nickname for these red bananas was buto ng principe.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 10:53 am


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  3. pinkfish says:

    My lola used to call these “Gloria.”

    Jul 30, 2007 | 1:15 pm

  4. tulip says:

    Ah those are abundant in Quezon province, around Bundok Peninsula and Bicol too. An aunt use to supplies us with some of the Morado Grande/Gigante from her agrarian lots there.She usually sends load of those for neighbors, friends and relatives since its nowhere to be found in Manila. She says its more grown/popular in Visayas and Mindanao.
    I still havent learned to love its taste and a reddish almost purple banana looks weird to me.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 1:23 pm

  5. Foodie says:

    Is this variety also known as “sinibukaw” in Cebu?

    Jul 30, 2007 | 4:58 pm

  6. DADD-F says:

    Morado bananas are my favourite! Sarap talaga! Time was when one of my trainees who went home to Negros for the weekend actually bought me a whole box of it when he learned that I love these bananas. Marami yan sa amin sa Palo, Leyte though apparently not as much now dahil sa minsang bagyuhin kami ng todo at maraming nasirang puno ng saging na pula or morados. My second favourite are the green bananas we call baluy in Leyte. Sadly, wala yata yan dito sa Luzon. Not the morado, not the baluy. Sigh….

    P.S. Baluy by the way are really the best for making banana cakes/breads.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 8:01 pm

  7. honey says:

    Cumin, take note that the word “buto” is accented in the end, meaning not buto as seed but referring to the sex organ *giggle*.
    Here in my part of bicol, it’s also known as “moro ki datu” meaning, finger of a datu

    Jul 30, 2007 | 8:34 pm

  8. kulasa says:

    I remember we had a banana tree before that grew large redish or purplish banana’s. I never like them. They were aromatic and tasted more like over ripe cavendish bananas. I’m not sure it they’re those large red ones you were looking for. I have never tasted these morado chicos.

    Sounds like there are morado varieties, I remember we had a morado papaya. Very few seeds and almost orange in color. The stems of the tree were purple in color.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 8:46 pm

  9. Maria Clara says:

    I have seen them before. Never have had a chance to taste them.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 1:52 am

  10. edel says:

    i agree with tulip. morado bananas are abundant in quezon province. there’s also a big long banana (12-15 inches) that’s yummy cooked in water and sugar =) i love senoritas also.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 9:49 am

  11. connie says:

    “Cumin, take note that the word “buto” is accented in the end, meaning not buto as seed but referring to the sex organ”

    *guffaw* Yes, in Pampanga that’s what they call the male sex organ, so yeah, I do know how putting the emphasis on the right syllable (or wrong syllable for that matter) gives the word a whole new meaning.
    I never particulary like these bananas, I preferred the lacatan and latundan.
    As for any talk of bananas leading to the gutter, I think some if not most of us just can’t help it especially when talking about something so phallic in shape. These do remind me of a talk that went so deep down in the gutter with some colleagues, of all group of people, that started about stinkhorm mushrooms. I think up to now I’m still covered in gutter grease. LOL.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 10:12 am

  12. brenda says:

    I think i’ve seen these kind before, just cant remember if its in Bicol or Negros but I havent really tried it. What I do remember in Bicol is that there is this kind of banana that we call “butuan”, its kinda big with lots of seeds. I dont particularly like it as well because you have to spit the seeds every now and then but its really sweet.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 10:28 am

  13. bedazzle says:

    i’ve seen and tasted the morado grande because one time an officemate of mine brought some from laguna. they were huge! we had a good laugh while eating the bananas, although i didn’t particularly like it. as connie says talking about bananas usually leads to the gutter. oh, by the way, in ilocano, the male sex organ is also called buto (with accent on the last syllable).

    Jul 31, 2007 | 12:07 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    You will be interested to know that buto, as described by the greener of you, and which I did not know the meaning until readers commented on this, has a very clear linguistic provenance it seems… “butoh” or “butuh” in Malay refers to the same thing… and I suspect the Malay word made its way to Cebu and thereabouts at some point several hundred years ago…

    Jul 31, 2007 | 3:01 pm

  15. wil-b cariaga says:

    On my trip to Sri Lanka I often see red bananas on roadside vendors and in markets, they say it is common there, I only saw this bananas once in philippines, looked exotic, but it tastes good. . . nice to have a fruit basket with diff kinds of bananas in it. . . .

    Jul 31, 2007 | 7:28 pm

  16. Sam says:

    just curious, i’ve seen these red bananas, never tried them ripe. they’re pretty to look at, and i wonder if they can actually stand stewing in sumple brown sugar syrup? any ideas, mr.mm? when you had your stash, did you eat them fresh or tried cooking with a few?

    Aug 1, 2007 | 2:46 pm

  17. Marketman says:

    Sam, I think these particular morados, the chicos and grandes are meant to be eating (sans cooking) bananas. They have a pretty soft ripe consistency, so my guess is that they would be pretty limp and soft when stewed or fried. However, the larger red bananas in the U.S. and European markets are more often a variety of plantain, in which case they hold up better to frying or stewing. Our cook says this variety is never cooked where they come from in Cebu…

    Aug 1, 2007 | 2:55 pm

  18. Sam says:

    thank you, i am definitely learning more about fruits and vegetable indigenous to the philippine countryside. have you tried posting or adding some of your fruit/vegetable finds to wikipedia? it would be fun to see you do the wiki thing. you’ve got some very interesting finds from your trips. are you aware of any local lab or agricultural agency banking any seeds from these plants? it would be great to learn more about it. thanks, again.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 3:12 pm


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