Before you ask — yes, banana peels are safe to eat. While the idea of eating banana peels might seem a little, well, bananas, to some in the United States, it’s pretty common in parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America (via Insider). If you’ve never tried them, you may wonder: What do banana peels taste like? They’ve got a subtle banana taste and can be a little bitter, but if you use ripe bananas, the taste and texture soften. Also, due to pesticides used in the growing process, you should definitely use organic bananas when possible and wash the peels thoroughly. However, eating them raw is hardly one of the best uses for your banana peels — the world over has solutions for how to put these fruit byproducts to good use.
Taste isn’t the only reason to make use of banana peels, though. According to WebMD, the peel specifically contains high levels of vitamins B6 and B12, as well as magnesium, potassium, fiber, and protein. The outlet suggests banana peels may help with depression and could lower the risk of cancer. Another important reason to consider eating your banana peels is to help eliminate food waste. Bananas are the world’s second-largest fruit crop and their skins account for 30 to 40% of their total mass (via Forbes). Tossed away, this creates a lot of waste — 3.5 million tons every year, to be exact.
With all that in mind, we’ve created a list for you of the absolute best uses for banana peels. So, next time you eat a banana, instead of throwing the peel in the trash or compost bin, set it aside in your fridge or freezer to use in one of these fantastic ways.
You may be wondering, how do you drink banana peels? Well, there are many ways to consume them. One popular use is in banana peel tea. According to Healthline, the tea is thought to ease bloating and serve as a natural sleep aid, due to high concentrations of tryptophan, magnesium, and potassium. But, if you’re more interested in trying an "adult beverage," Discarded Spirits writes that you should consider making banana peel rum.
Though it’s not common to eat raw banana peels since they can be a little bitter, using a very ripe banana can mitigate some of the sharpness. Try throwing a whole banana — yes, peel and all — into your next smoothie for a nutrient boost.
But you’re not the only member of your household that might benefit from drinking banana peels. Feeding your plants with banana peel water has become a popular technique for home gardeners looking to give their flora a potassium boost. That’s because the mineral is thought to help plants grow. Not everyone agrees that this is the way to go, however. According to Honestly Modern, the sweet smell of the rotting bananas attracts gnats.
Use banana peels in your baking
Another one of the best uses for banana peels is in your baking. There are a couple of ways to incorporate these fiber-packed fruit skins into your baked goods. According to the Washington Post, you can easily incorporate banana skins into your banana bread recipes. It won’t affect the flavor, but it will increase the nutrient content while cutting down on food waste. So, why not try banana peels in our brown-butter banana bread recipe?
As it stands, banana peel flour might soon become the latest new trend in commercial foods. A study from the Journal of Functional Foods looked at the application and effects that banana peel flour has in various food applications. For example, the commercial cookie industry is testing the use of banana peel flour as a substitute for whole wheat flour in order to control diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The authors of the report found that swapping out up to 10% of wheat flour for that made from banana peel didn’t affect the taste but increased the nutritional benefit of the cookies. Banana peel flour is also being used in chicken sausages and patties and was found to increase fiber content and reduce the effect of free radicals.
Add banana peels to curries and chutneys
Although people in the west have only recently discovered the benefits of eating banana peels, they are a part of many traditional Indian dishes. Per The Global Statistics, banana peels are particularly popular in the southern state of Kerala, where the local Nendran banana is a staple food. The Nendran banana is a bit bigger than the standard Cavendish banana you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores, but don’t let that stop you from trying this classic dry vegetable dish, thoran (via Made in Hackney). What does banana peel curry taste like? British chef Nigella Lawson, who created an infamous banana peel curry recipe, likens the taste and texture to that of eggplant (via Daily Mail).
Chutney is another best use for the banana peel. It is also quite simple to make, only consisting of banana peel, chilies, garlic, oil, and spices. Bethica Das of Sifi Bawarachi suggests serving it alongside a paratha recipe, or as a sandwich spread.
Make banana peel vinegar
Making banana peel vinegar is not a quick process, but the results will be worth it. According to Livestrong, despite the peels’ bitterness, vinegar made from the peel has sweet undertones. Among the supplies you will need are two pounds of banana peels, a vinegar starter, and two whole months. But, at the end of those 60 days, the outlet assures that you’ll be left with a tasty vinegar, which you’ll be able to use anywhere you need vinegar, including in salads and tea.
A vinegary sauce made from banana peels is also quite popular in the Philippines. According to Pinoy Cooking, bananas are one of the country’s top exported fruits, and so, all parts of this natural produce feature heavily in Filipino cuisine. This includes banana skins, which have found their way into condiments such as vinegary sauce and paste. Banana peels have even made their way into the classic dish, lumpia (via Lhumpianha).
Keep your meat moist
Do you love to roast meat, but have trouble keeping it moist? Never fear; the industrious banana peel is here to help you out. Some say you’ll never deal with dry meat again. According to Actual FruVeg, adding banana peel on top of lean meat while it roasts (such as chicken) will help it retain its juices. The outlet says this trick works thanks to a combination of the moisture and oils from the fruit skin. This is no surprise, considering many people around the world also use banana leaves as a wrapper to steam their food (via Food n’ Road).
So, the next time you whip up this Indonesian roast chicken recipe, why not add a few banana skins to your pan? The subtle banana flavor that the peels impart will pair nicely with the notes of coconut, fish sauce, and turmeric, which are already present in the dish.
Banana peels make great meat substitutes
Speaking of meat, perhaps you’re looking to reduce your meat consumption — or you don’t eat meat at all. Not to worry, banana peels have still got your back. Perhaps one of the absolute best (and most well-known) applications of banana peel is as a meat substitute is in faux bacon. In fact, it is a great reason why you shouldn’t throw out your banana peels. Some foodies, such as those at It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, suggest using the skin of ripe bananas to avoid any potential bitterness. Another reminder to keep in mind is that while this vegan bacon tastes like the meat version, it is a little thinner. Why not try your banana peel bacon in our recipe for a vegan BLT?
If bacon isn’t your jam, there are many other popular plant-based meat substitutes you can make with your leftover banana skins. Those craving vegan tacos or burrito bowls need look no further than banana-peel carnitas (via Sweet Potato Soul). But, be careful, banana peelings contain a sort of latex, meaning that if you have a latex allergy, you should check with your doctor before partaking.
You could also try the fruit skins as a meat replacement in carne louca. This mock Brazilian dish using banana peels mimics braised beef or pork and is so popular it’s gained its own cheeky name, casca louca (casca means peel in Portuguese).
Make sweet treats
Sure, the flesh of a banana all on its own is a wonderful sweet treat any time of day. But did you know that one of the best uses for banana people is in desserts and other sweet treats? As we’ve said, the peel can have a slight bitterness. That’s why it pairs so well with sugar, which helps offset that flavor.
One popular banana peel dessert calls for a simple caramelization. According to Evelyn Chick Project, you can even make a syrup out of those caramelized peels. That would be a great way to use the peels you have left over after making one ingredient ice cream from banana — you’ll have zero waste and a delicious topping. Or, if it’s candy you’re craving, why not make some banana peel peanut brittle (via Otis Oat)? Peanut and banana are a classic winning combination, after all.
Of course, you can always use this centuries-old technique to turn your banana peel into a sweet, candied treat unlike any you’ve had before. You don’t need anything other than the banana peel, sugar, and water. And perhaps the willpower to let them dry out for a day before gobbling them up.
Fry up some chips
If you want an appealing — sorry for the pun — spin on the classic tortilla chip or even regular plantain chips, look no further than your banana peel. They’re a unique twist of flavor, but best of all, they’re super simple to make. You only need to soak your skins in water, then coat them in cornstarch before shallow-frying them (via Rumble).
But, what should you serve your chips with? We suggest trying them with a new type of guacamole or our pineapple salsa recipe. If you want to double-dip your banana peel flavor, as mentioned, whip up some banana peel chutney to serve with your crispy chips.
Now, you may be wondering if you can make your chips in your food dehydrator. The answer is … sort of. Countrified Hicks suggests dehydrating banana peels to feed to your pet chickens or rabbits. Just don’t give banana peels to your dogs since they could hurt their tummies, according to the American Kennel Club.
Use banana peels to polish silverware
Now that you’ve made and eaten all these amazing foods with your banana peels, you’ve probably got some dirty dishes. You might be surprised to learn that your banana peels can even help you with your clean-up. According to Life Hacker, banana peels work like a charm when it comes to polishing up tarnished silverware.
First, you need to make a paste from water and the skins — assuming you have any left following this list of delicious recipes. Next, apply that paste to your silverware. Then, wash it off and dry your utensils. According to Little Things, this works because of the acid content in bananas. This method will also work on any tarnished silver jewelry you may have.
If you are out of banana peels or your silverware isn’t silver, you can always use this cutlery hack, which hinges on aluminum foil, baking soda, or even cola to ensure your utensils are in good condition