Anyone who has ever seen a banana go from perfectly ripe to brown ready-to-eat in just a few hours knows exactly how precarious the life of the fruit can be. That’s why they’re at Top banana – the largest suppliers of Dole bananas in the northeast – have developed a complex system to ripen bananas from all over the world to perfection.
“The food industry is not the most technologically advanced,” says Daniel Barabino, Head of Strategy and Operations at Top Banana. “We had a bespoke system for decades that worked great but didn’t work as well as it could, so we invested heavily in our in-house software,” he explains of the temperature-controlled rooms that bananas are transported in during the ripening process at which even a half-degree variation can make a difference.
A typical day at Top Banana starts at 5 a.m. when trucks unload hundreds of boxes of bananas from around the world. A few bananas from each truck are punctured with a cellulose thermometer to check their internal temperature, and then transported to temperature and pressure controlled rooms. These spaces are then pumped with ethylene gas – the same gas given off by the fruit when it begins to ripen – to begin an even ripening process.
When they are ripe, they are kept in a room with the ideal temperature of 58 degrees. The fruits are then examined and sent to grocery stores, home delivery, and restaurants like Magnolia Bakery in NYC, which uses about 30 crates of bananas a day to make the place’s famous banana pudding.