hand/ bunch of bananas

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cherry2123, May 7, 2010.

  1. cherry2123 New Member

    Hi there,

    I have a question and would like to ask you.

    Banana fruit grow in hanging clusters, with up to 20 fruits to a tier. Some calls this tier "hand" and some "bunch".

    How about you? What partitive do you guys use?

    Many thanks
  2. mplsray Senior Member

    Bunch. I had never hear of "hand of bananas" before this thread.
  3. I have heard that the expression "hand of bananas" exists, but I have never heard anyone actually say it.
  4. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I know they're hands because I spent some time photographing them and learning a little about them, but no one I know uses any term but bunch, including me.

    Welcome to the forum... pull up a banana and make yourself at home. :)
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK

    Welcome from me too, cherry:)
  6. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    And ditto from me too.

    Welcome, Cherry:)
  7. cherry2123 New Member

    So glad to be warmly welcomed as such :)
    Thank you all!

    Those use "hand of bananas" explain that each banana can be called a finger, so a cluster "hand".

    I've found this,

    "Bananas are mature about three months from the time of flowering, with each bunch producing about 15 "hands" or rows. Each hand has about 20 bananas while each bunch will yield about 200 "fingers" or bananas. An average bunch of bananas can weigh between 80 and 125 pounds (35 to 50 kilograms)."

    Here, both hands and fingers are put in the quotation marks; that means it's just a simile (a banana likes a finger; a row likes a hand), not in real life, right?
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    Either that, Cherry, or the term hand is used in the banana-growing industry ('jargon', I suppose you might call it) where the distinction between 'big bunches' and 'little bunches' is important.
  9. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    These terms are used in the banana industry... but not much outside it and not at my breakfast table.
  10. cherry2123 New Member

    Thank you all. The matter is clear to me now :)
  11. normadela Senior Member

    Perú español
    Hi, dear friends:

    That's what we say in our country when we mean 5 units. Only a few supermarkets sell them by kilos.

    Is "hand" what you use in the U.S?

    Thanks in advance.
  12. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    It seems from the reference Owlman provided that you would asked for a bunch of bananas (few people have heard of "hand" in this connection). The common expression "bunch of bananas" refers to a cluster of bananas.
  13. normadela Senior Member

    Perú español
    Dear Owlman5:

    I appreciate your reply.

    For some reason I overlooked the thread you mention. But it gives me the answer.

  14. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I think that in the US, we all call the cluster of five or six bananas usually sold at the supermarket a "bunch"--but the technical term is apparently "hand." There's an informative short article at http://www.moscowfood.coop/archive/bananas.html
  15. normadela Senior Member

    Perú español
    Dear Parla:

    Thank you for your valuable information.

    Have a great day.
  16. Olli_T Member

    Agreed, those of us who have never seen a banana hanging from the tree would never ever use "hand".
    That goes for pretty much 95%+ of the UK population I reckon.
    20 bananas would be a "big bunch"
    200 bananas would be a "[insert expletive here] huge bunch"
  17. normadela Senior Member

    Perú español
    Dear Olli T:

    I appreciate your reply, too.

    Thanks a lot.
  18. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Bananas on a tree look nothing like a hand anyway, so if you had seen them, you wouldn't say "hand" either. They only begin to look like hands when you pull the bunches apart.

    I haven't heard bananas referred to as a hand for years, but when I was young it was a fairly common expression. I can remember my father using it and he was an architect, not a banana grower or a greengrocer. You don't usually see them in the shops here as hands any more anyway - they tend to be in small bunches, rather than in a hand where there are 5 or 6 fruit in a row, all from the same tier.
  19. EEMIA New Member

    Picking up the thread. In "Dead Letters" (1997) by British writer Francis King (died July 2011), you can read the following about a character coming back from the market:" On his return… with a lettuce, a bag of tomatoes and a hand of bananas, etc. "
  20. aletheiazoe New Member

    English - US
    I have only heard/seen "bunch of bananas" used until I saw this on Facebook: "Aldi trip = 3 hands of bananas, two cartons of strawberry, one bag of pears, one bag of pink lady apples, two bags of red grapes, one bag of sweet potatoes, one bag of oranges = $24.69. I am so happy!"
  21. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
  22. eams New Member

    American English
    There is a Calypso song, Banana Boat, that uses hand and bunch. "... six hand, seven hand, eight hand, bunch. Come Mr. tally man, tally [count] me bananas."
    That is why I was questioning the difference between hand and bunch.
  23. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    Really? I've only ever heard that as "six foot, seven foot, eight foot...."
  24. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
  25. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    Belafonte sang it as "foot," and his version is probably far better known than any others.
  26. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Thanks for this. I never knew the "hand" version existed ... and I could never make any sense of the "foot" version, knowing that bunches of bananas were never that large. :) But six, seven and eight hands are quite normal.
  27. Banzie New Member

    Hello to all

    Firstly. Banana plants are not trees. They do not have a seed which germinate. They have a stem which runs underground. 'Suckers' grow from that. So if we cut a 'sucker' from the root and plant it again, after a period of time it grow into a full 'banana pant'. It will them produce a (usually) purple flower, and after about nine months we have a 'stem' of bananas. Now, that stem could have anything from five, to ten, or even eleven hands. Each hand may have any number of fingers ranging from say ten to even fourteen fingers.

    At the time to which I refer, commercially, only a stem of bananas with nine hands was called a bunch, and each hand must have at least twelve fingers. If it has ten hands they will cut off one hand. There was a commercial aspect of banana purchasing relative to stems/hands which I do not need to go into, unless someone ask.

    Of course there are bananas of different sizes, and even colour. Depending on where they live, most people may only have seen bananas which are green skin before they ripe. Those are the ones (about 40mm diameter) which are grown for marketing. There are others, for example, which maintain a purple skin even when ripe.

    A 'root' of bananas is a cluster which have plants and young suckers. So over a number of years from just one sucker we could, but cutting out and transplanting a sucker, have a whole field of bananas.
  28. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK

    Welcome to the forums, Banzie - thank you for your interesting post!

    So this picture would be of a "stem" of bananas, with five (six? seven?) "hands"? And a "stem" would be called a "bunch" if it consisted of nine "hands"?

    Have I got that right?
  29. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Welcome to the forum. :)

    Always good to have expert information – thank you – so I’ll just mention that just as you’ve used root rather than corm, so do most people use tree rather than plant. It simply highlights the fact that there’s a difference between general and specialized usage.

    If we used plant and corm and hands and fingers in general conversation, I think most people would find it odd, not to mention incomprehensible. I would also be surprised if most people knew they were eating Cavendish bananas – but perhaps they're more enlightened than I know. :)

    From the "trees" on our Hong Kong terrace:

    banana_IMG_7347.jpg banana_IMG_4002.jpg banana_IMG_4007.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  30. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Give the man a big hand. :)
  31. Banzie New Member


    Yes! You are right. Sorry I took so long to rejoin this post.

    I do not know if the buying/selling situation still prevail, commercially, that is the merchants. But the buyers/merchants made a killing. Nine hands was a bunch, but, for buying purposes, if a stem of bananas was less than 9 hands, a formula came into play. I will give just one example. If a farmer came along with 2 stems of bananas, each of 7 hands, those 14 hands counted as one stem of 9 hands. So the buyer got 5 hands 'free'. Years ago a friend and I discussed the issue and he filled in some of the 'gaps' in our discussion.
  32. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Thank you:thumbsup::)
  33. Banzie New Member

    Banana types/names are in the hundreds. But a comparatively few were grown for the commercial market, as seen in the shops/supermarkets. Small farmers would grow a couple of varieties for home consumption. The Gros Michel, sweeter and larger than the Cavendish, was the prior marketed variety but was replaced by the Cavendish. Then there is the Lakatan also spelt Lacatan. Some bananas, not seen in the shops, may be two, or nearly three, times the Cavendish, for example.

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