Dried bananas are a simple and delicious way to use up extra bananas. These chewy, sweet dried bananas make a perfect on-the-go snack or even substitute for candy, they’re that good!
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You need to try dried bananas!
Bananas are truly remarkable foods. Nicely coming in their own wrapper, they’re the perfect grab-and-go snack. And they’re cheap compared to a lot of other fruits: organic is generally under a dollar a pound. Plus they make a marvelous sweetener for so many foods, from smoothies to cookies. And they have fiber, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and potassium, great stuff for supporting quality sleep and a healthy immune system! Wow!
I do a lot of dehydrating in summer, in part because we can’t always use up all the great stuff coming from the farm and garden. Having dried apples, pears, zucchini, and rhubarb leather in winter lets us keep enjoying our garden goodies long after everything’s covered in snow. Of course, we don’t grow bananas in Minnesota, but when the dehydrator’s running, I like to toss on whatever fruit looks like it won’t get eaten before it spoils or just turned out not to be that wonderful for fresh eating. My kids are always leaving over half-eaten bananas, so I cut off the ends and onto the dehydrator they go.
Because when you suck the water out of fruit, what happens is pure magic.
In the case of bananas and cantaloupe in particular, something truly alchemical goes on. A thoroughly “meh” cantaloupe can be transformed into chewy, super-sweet (yet healthy!) cantaloupe “taffy.” And bananas, which I actually really don’t care for fresh, when dried taste like something you should feel guilty about eating. (I actually do feel guilty sometimes, but only ‘cuz I wind up not saving enough dried bananas for the kids!)
I am NOT talking about banana “chips,” those kind of crunchy, not terribly tasty rounds of banana you find in some trail mixes. Those are usually made with added oils and sweeteners, often even artificial flavoring. The dried bananas “candy” we’re talking about here is chewy and intensely sweet on its own.
And the only ingredient is dried bananas, no additives necessary. What could be better than a 1-ingredient treat?
Here’s the best part: Making dried bananas is as simple as slicing and laying them on a dehydrator. If you don’t own a dehydrator, you may want to consider investing in one, as they pay for themselves in all the food you don’t waste in the height of summer and let you make amazing healthy treats like zucchini chips and homemade fruit leather. If you’re into camping you can dehydrate trail snacks, sauces, even make your own jerkies. You can go in with a friend or two and share the cost if you like.
You can also dry food using your oven, but it can be hard to get the lower temperatures you need to make this work, and drying in the oven requires more tending. Keep an eye on them so they don’t get crispy, unless you prefer them that way. You can also try harnessing the power of the sun and make your own outdoor drying racks, try a solar oven (or DIY version) or even use your car!
Dried Bananas “Candy”
I tend to add bananas and other fruit that’s not getting eaten fast enough to a few trays when I’m drying a big batch of rhubarb leather, zucchini, or tomatoes, but you could buy up a couple big bunches to dry all at once. You can use bananas at pretty much any stage of ripeness, but I’d stay away from green bananas and those that have really gotten soft and are developing bruises. (Send those to the freezer for smoothies if they’re salvageable.) Each of these round trays can hold about 3 large bananas.
- Get trays stacked and ready to load.
- Peel bananas and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ thick strips. You can then cut these strips in half for shorter candies, or keep them long. I make mine short. If you care about color you can give them a quick dip in lemon juice, but it’s not necessary and I don’t bother.
- Lay them on your trays in a single layer.
- Set the dehydrator to 115 degrees and leave for 6-8 hours. You can dry them at higher temperatures for a shorter period of time. Times will vary based on humidity and other factors, but it’s pretty hard to mess these up. Check them after 6 hours. They’re done when they’re pliable and leathery, and the softness of the fresh banana is gone.
- Try not to eat them all at once! Enjoy!
Other things to try when you need to use up bananas:
Of course, you could also whip up a banana bread, or save them in your freezer for sweetening smoothies. I’ll be sharing a bunch of banana ice cream recipes in a few weeks.
Kimberley Button at Get Green Be Well has tips on making the most eco-friendly choices when sourcing your bananas. Check them out!
Wait, don’t throw all those peels in the trash!
Did you know that banana peels make great additions to the garden? You can use them to deter aphids, and they will also add beneficial nutrients to your soil. (Read more about how to use banana peels in the garden in this post from Frugal Chicken.) Apparently you can also eat them and whiten your teeth and polish your silver with them, but you’ll have to investigate those uses for yourself 🙂 )
What’s your favorite use for bananas? Have you tried dried bananas?