Bananas and Banana Peels

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This column all started when a friend texted me a photo of banana nut bread. She questioned what looked like fibers or strings within the bread. I was with our Extension Master Food Volunteers at that time and one said “maybe it’s the peel.” She had eaten at a bakery in Michigan that serves banana bread made with the peel. This discussion got me looking for more info on eating banana peels.

So, here’s the scoop. Yes, banana peels are definitely edible. The folks at Dole actually had them analyzed.

Data from the Dole lab shows banana peels contain very high amounts of the same antioxidants found in the flesh. The Dole scientists also found that the peels are very nutrient-dense containing 2.3 times the fiber, 2.4 times the beta-carotene, and 8.4 times the calcium of regular banana flesh.

OK, so does this mean it’s good for you to munch down on the banana
peel? There’s no problem adding some of the peel (wash it first) into a smoothie for some additional nutrients.

The folks at Dole are looking for other uses for banana peels in the future. They are trying to find a way to not let this good nutrition go to waste and reduce waste in landfills or even compost bins. Dole has a couple of recipes on their website using the banana peel, including a dish that uses them in a plant-based meal.

I also found out a couple of other interesting things while researching bananas
and banana peels.

Most of us don’t think about this, but it is recommended that you wash a banana peel before you eat the insides (just like any other fruit or vegetable you eat). This is mostly because you’re touching the peel (and we don’t know where it has been or how many people have touched it) and you may also touch the banana flesh while you’re eating it.

Another thing most of us take for granted is that we know how to peel a banana. But the Dole folks recommend that we open the yellow fruit from the stalk at the bottom of the banana, not the top. Their reasoning is that it can often be tricky to break the skin open at the top, particularly when the banana is fresh and firm. The flesh of the banana is often crushed as a result. Another reason to open the fruit from the other end is that you don’t need to remove any of the annoying threads before eating as they remain in the peel as you remove it. Who knew?

I also did check out the banana bread with the peels. It’s from a bakery in
Ann Arbor, Michigan called Zingerman’s. Their recipe is online. They explain in a blog post that they have a “no waste” philosophy and try to use skins from other fruits and vegetables, too.

To prepare the peels for the banana bread, they recommend allowing them to ripen until they have black spots. They wash them well, cut off both ends, and freeze them overnight. The bananas are then put (peels and all) into a food processor and pureed. The puree is used as an ingredient in their banana bread. They say that you may see some tiny dark specks in the bread from the frozen banana peel. I haven’t personally eaten this bread, so I can’t vouch for it one way or another.

You could use a similar method if you’d like to use bananas with peels
in your smoothies. One reference I read suggested slicing the unpeeled bananas before freezing and adding them right out of the freezer into the blender with your other ingredients.

As for the fiber and strings in my friend’s photo of the banana bread, we
still don’t know what they were. A careful reading of the ingredients list showed no real banana (or banana peel) in this bread. They listed artificial flavorings. What a disappointment when you’re thinking you’re getting at least a little fruit nutrition when eating banana bread.

Sources:
Dole 
Zingerman’s 


Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at cheryle_syracuse@ncsu.edu.