Vegan Caramelized Banana Peels

Vegan Caramelized Banana Peels

Welcome to the first recipe of the Waste Less Kitchen series, where our goal is to reduce food waste as much as possible in the kitchen. We’re going to tackle something most people haven’t even thought about consuming before and that is: the banana peel.

Did you know that banana peels make up a whopping 35% of a banana? Not only are most of us throwing away all these great nutrients found in the uncommonly eaten peel, but we’re also creating unnecessary food waste. By consuming or reusing the peel we can effectively reduce our “food print.”

Are Banana Peels Even Safe to Consume?

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Yes! Banana peels are totally edible. In fact, there are quite a few countries such as India that use banana peels in their dishes. To people who aren’t used to eating banana peels, this thought may be a little hard to swallow because we know banana peels to feel quite tough.

However, the versatility and nutritional benefits of banana peels definitely warrants making some space in our fridge for the many banana peel concoctions you can whip up.

But before you go chomping away at all the banana peels in your trashcan, there are a few important considerations you should keep in mind.

Consume Organic Banana Peels

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First, make sure that you are purchasing and using organic bananas if you’re consuming them. Produce that aren’t labeled as Certified Organic could’ve been sprayed with harmful pesticides that might not be safe to consume.

I know it can be more expensive, but there are many other benefits that come along with purchasing organic than just getting to eat banana peels.

Wash Your Banana Peels Before Using

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The next important note is to thoroughly wash your banana peels. Even though it’s organic, you still want to make sure to clean your banana peels just like you would with any other fruit or vegetable.

The Riper, The Better

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The less ripe the banana, the chewier and tougher the banana peel will be to eat. Ripe banana peels are thinner and sweeter than the slightly more green counterpart.

While you can still totally cook with slightly underripe banana peels — in fact, I would personally cook with them regardless — just know that ripe bananas work best if you’re a little more picky.

The Nutritional Benefits of Banana Peels

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Banana peels are amazingly nutritious, which isn’t that hard to believe since the fruit inside is also full of great macro and micro nutrients.

A 2007 study investigated a few different species of bananas and found the peels to be highly rich in fiber (about 40% to 50%). In addition, the peels contained about 8% to 11% protein, along with some essential amino acids. They even found them to be rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, about 2%  to 11%, depending on the species. Potassium was also found to be the most significant mineral in the banana peels.

Another study also investigated several species of banana peels and found that they’re high in antioxidants and can even have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Basically, the overlooked banana peel are serious nutritional powerhouses that contain some really good stuff that will benefit our bodies. More research needs to be done, but the the future of banana peels definitely looks promising.

Candied Banana Peels Recipe

+2 bonus recipes

I’m not a fan of candied anything — not pecans, not peanut brittle, not vegan bacon, absolutely nothing. I just find these treats overly sweet and it tastes and feels like you’re eating hardened sugar right out of the bag.

But candied banana peels are in a whole other class of candied food. The cooking process makes the banana peels only slightly chewy, but it still retains a little bite, similar to fruit-leather. The banana peels also creates a depth of flavors and interesting sweet fragrance.

Candied banana peels — you officially have my heart and my stomach.

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic banana peels without the stem and nub
  • 0.3 cups sugar — you can use coconut sugar
  • 0.25 cups water
  • Parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Heat the pan on high heat and immediately add the sugar and water.
  2. Stir occasionally until the mixture is boiling.
  3. In the meantime, wash and chop your banana peels into small, bite-sized pieces.
  4. Once the sugar water mixture is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and add your banana peels.
  5. Stir occasionally until the sugar has caramelized. It should be a nice dark brown amber color. Be careful that it doesn’t burn.
  6. Pour all the contents in the pan onto parchment paper, separate them a bit, and let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

I prefer to store the candied banana peels in a glass jar. Make sure to store it in the fridge and it will last for up to 5 days.

Some Additional Notes

Sugar: Instead of white sugar, feel free to use coconut sugar or a sugar and alternative sugar mix. However, I don’t recommend using only Stevia or any alternate sugar since the concentration of sweetness is much higher than normal sugar. It can also throw off the pure flavors you get from the banana.

Freezing your banana peels: You can freeze your banana peels if you’re not ready to use them yet. However, in order to make caramelized banana peels, you must let them thaw out first and then pat them dry with a paper towel as the extra moisture can throw off the texture.

Burning your candy: It’s very easy to burn your dessert in the candy-making world. Make sure you watch and and smell you mixture so it doesn’t burn.

Undercooking your banana peels: If you undercooked your banana peels and they turned out more like sautéed banana peels, that’s OK — making caramelized anything sometimes takes a little trial-and-error. But don’t throw it away! You can use them in a smoothie to sweetened up, or even bake my banana peel breakfast bars.

2 Bonus Banana Peel Recipes

Banana Sugar

If you have extra sugar that didn’t quite harden, I recommend keeping it!

You can store it in the same container with the candied banana peels and use it in replacement of honey for oatmeal bowls, add a little bit into your smoothie to sweetened it up, or use it in another recipe for sugar.

The resulting sugar has a really nice deep, rich flavor and fragrance.

Banana Peel Breakfast Bars

These banana peel breakfast bars provide more nutrients than banana sugar and candied banana peels, which make them a great option for an on-the-go breakfast. Check out the recipe here.

Other Recipes Using Banana Peels

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If you’re not a huge fan of keeping sugary treats around the house, or you’re trying to cut down on sugar, I totally understand. Caramelized banana peels and banana sugar isn’t the most nutritious thing in the world (but hey, did I mention I also made super nutritious banana peel breakfast bars?).

That’s why it’s so great that there are so may other recipes where you can use banana peels. Here are just a few:

Non-Consumable Ways to Use Banana Peels

If the thought of eating banana peels is still making you feel a little queasy, there are definitely other ways you can reuse banana peels. Healthline published a great article all about the other ways you can use banana peels.

Bananas for Banana Peels Yet?

Hopefully this post has inspired you to think about the fibrous yellow shell of one of our favorite fruits before tossing it. Together we can all reduce our eco-food print!

Tell me, how do you plan to use your banana peels? Are there any other ways you can use banana peels that I didn’t mention in this post? Let me know in the comments below!



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