Recruitment of fields for freeze thaw awakening technology
By Danielle Demetriou
Aug. 7, 2020, 1:59 a.m.
Japanese farmers have invented a new type of banana with edible peel using an innovative deep freezing technique.
The Mongee banana, which can be eaten in its entirety, was pioneered by Setsuzo Tanaka, technical development manager at D&T Farm in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan.
The bananas are made using a pesticide-free cultivation technique called “freeze thaw awakening”, which involves replicating a process observed in the Ice Age by keeping the fruits in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.
The extreme cold is thought to trigger a state of rapid growth in the fruit, reportedly cutting the more typical two-year cultivation period for a banana plant down to around six months.
The end result is a banana which appears normal at first glance but is much sweeter than conventionally grown fruits – plus, its peel is 100 per cent edible.
Describing how the unusual fruit came about, Tetsuya Tanaka of D&T Farm told the Daily Telegraph: “It was created following research conducted by Setsuzo Tanaka who worked on this for a long time as a hobby.
“The motivation for its development was the fact he wanted to eat a banana that was delicious and safe: people can eat the peel because it is cultivated organically without chemicals.”
The fruit is not easy to get hold of. Supplies of the Mongee – which means “incredible” in Okayama dialect - are currently limited to small batches of around 30 pounds of bananas sold locally every week, each one selling for 648 yen (£4.20).
But Mr Tanaka, whose company has posted a recruitment call for banana farmers on its website, is keen for this to change: “We are currently cultivating bananas only in Japan but we are considering exporting overseas in the future.
“I would like to sell theses bananas without agricultural chemicals around the world.”
Japan is no stranger to innovations when it comes to fruits: it is also famously home to square watermelons, which are cultivated in square moulds, making it easier to store and transport them.
Fruit is widely regarded as a luxury status symbol in Japan, with extravagantly wrapped packages of blemish-free seasonal produce regularly given as gifts.