Dried bananas (Musa × paradisiaca) are a popular snack. You can find them as softer, dried banana pieces and as hard banana chips. If dried bananas have a brownish color, it means that no sulfur has been added.
Dried bananas have a high concentration of nutrients and energy because the water has been removed. Dehydrated bananas contain even less water. Dried bananas usually have a sweeter, more intense flavor than fresh bananas.
Dried bananas are a delicious, healthy snack and can be used in a variety of dishes and baked goods. They make an excellent ingredient for smoothies, chutneys, fruit salads, mueslis (Erb Muesli), and desserts. We nonetheless advise using fresh bananas over dried bananas where possible.
Banana chips are usually made by slicing bananas into rounds (sometimes while unripe), frying them in oil, and then leaving them to dry. Preservatives and sweeteners are commonly added to banana chips.1 Trail mixes often contain banana chips.
In India, banana chips are a popular snack and are known as Ethakka Upperi. They are roasted in coconut oil and coated with masala (spice mix) or jaggery (unrefined cane sugar). Banana chips may also be made from plantains (cooking bananas).
Preparation: Preheat oven to approx. 180 °C. Crush the banana chips (put them in a bag and use a wooden mallet to crush them into small pieces). Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and cinnamon to the chopped banana chips. If the honey is too solid, warm it up a little. Mix the honey with the dry mixture and knead into dough. Add a shot of water if necessary. If the dough sticks to the surface, add a little flour. Form small balls with your hands and press them flat on the baking paper. Bake the cookies for 10–12 minutes, remove, and let cool.
You can find vegan recipes with dried bananas at the bottom of the text or in the sidebar: “Recipes that have the most of this ingredient.”
Major supermarkets such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Extra Foods, Metro, and Freshmart (Canada); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl (Great Britain); Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Harris Farm (Australia) may sell dried bananas; however, this is not very common. Most supermarkets sell banana chips that have been fried in coconut oil, but dried bananas are less common. Commercially dried bananas are often treated with sulfur dioxide or contain added sugar. Sulfur is added to prevent the bananas from browning and give them a longer shelf life. Adding sugar to bananas is not necessary because dried bananas contain a lot of fructose and are naturally sweet.
You may be able to find freeze-dried banana chips that do not contain sulfur, oil, or added sugar. Bananas retain their color when freeze-dried. However, the term dried bananas almost exclusively refers to air-dried bananas.
You can find natural, unsweetened dried bananas that do not contain sulfur or oil at health food stores, organic supermarkets, and online.
You should also try to buy dried bananas made from organic bananas to avoid harmful chemicals. Organic dried fruits do not contain any of the preservatives that are commonly found in conventional dried fruits, such as sulfur, methyl bromide, and ascorbic acid.2
How do you make dried bananas? Dried bananas are very easy to make at home. You need a knife, baking paper, an oven or food dehydrator, and fresh bananas. Ideally, use ripe but not overripe bananas. It is also possible to dry bananas in the sun, especially in subtropical climates, but you need to protect them from fruit flies.
First, peel the bananas, cut into as thin slices as possible, and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Alternatively, you can cut them lengthwise and dry in strips. Tip: Soak the banana slices in lemon juice to reduce browning.
You should dry bananas at a maximum temperature of about 40 °C. This is because higher drying temperatures lead to valuable vitamins being lost. Keep the oven door slightly open to allow for the moisture to escape. The time it takes for the banana to try depends on various factors including the temperature, the thickness of the banana slices, and how dry you want the banana chips to be. Thinly sliced bananas take about 6–12 hours to dry, while half bananas may take one to two days to dry. If your dried bananas have a water content of <15 %, there will be a low probability that they become infected with fungus. The less water that the dried bananas contain, the longer their shelf life.
Sun-dried bananas are only available in tropical areas that have constant temperatures.
How long is the shelf life of dried bananas? When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place, dried bananas keep for a very long time. Depending on how thoroughly the bananas have been dried, they can be stored for several years and still maintain their flavor.
Dried bananas contain 301 kcal per 100 g. They are made up of approximately 71 % carbohydrates, 56 % sugar, and 6.4 dietary fiber. They contain very little protein (3.7 %) and fat (0.58).3
The low water content of dried bananas means that they contain much more concentrated nutrients than fresh bananas.
Dried bananas contain considerable amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), at 0.93 mg/100 g. This amount is similar to dried herbs such as parsley and oregano. Dried shiitake contains, for example, 0.93 mg/100 g. Vitamin B6 is important for enzymatic reactions and metabolizing protein.3
Our body needs potassium to maintain osmotic pressure in our cells. At 1'183 mg/100 g, dried bananas contain a lot of potassium. This is very similar to the content contained in the aforementioned dried herbs. Legumes such as white beans also contain high amounts of potassium (1795 mg/100 g).3
Dried bananas contain about 0.83 mg manganese per 100 g. This is a similar amount to dried mushrooms such as porcini (0.8 mg/100 g). Manganese is an important trace element that helps to develop cartilage and connective tissue. At 13 mg/100 g, wheat germ also contains larger amounts of manganese.3
Dried bananas also provide significant quantities of vitamin C (28 mg/100 g). However, many dried herbs contain even more vitamin C, including rosemary (61 mg/100 g), wild garlic (178 mg/100 g), and cilantro (566 mg/100 g).3
Select CLICK FOR under the photo of dried bananas to see the nutrient tables. These tables provide complete nutritional information, the percentage of the recommended allowance, and comparison values with other ingredients.
In small quantities, dried bananas are great energy bombs. They are an ideal snack for people who exercise a lot.
The high levels of potassium in dried bananas can be beneficial for your heart and blood circulation. Bananas can furthermore help to regulate your bowel movements thanks to the fiber, natural starches, and polysaccharides they contain. However, dried fruit should be viewed as a supplement rather than a replacement for fresh fruit in your diet.
Dried bananas contain considerably more fructose and calories than fresh bananas. This can lead to flatulence and diarrhea when eaten in larger quantities, especially banana chips as they are often made from unripe bananas and contain higher quantities of indigestible starch. We recommend eating dried bananas in small quantities and eating fresh fruit where possible.
Dried fruit that has been treated with sulfur can cause allergic reactions in people who have allergies or lack the enzyme sulfite oxidase. In rare cases, people may experience severe reactions (e.g., asthma attacks) to sulfur dioxide and sulfite.4
Many people with fructose intolerances don’t tolerate dried bananas very well, while they may be able to eat fresh bananas without problems.5
Bananas originally come from Southeast Asia. Scientists estimate that the domestication of bananas began seven thousand years ago.6 The first written references to bananas are found in Buddhist and Indian writings around 600 BCE. The Spanish cultivated banana plantations on the Canary Islands, from about 1500 CE onwards. Soon after, bananas came to America when Portuguese settlers established the first plantations in the Caribbean and Central America.
Bananas are herbaceous perennials and may grow as tall as trees depending on the species (Musa ingens, for example, grows up to 15 m high).7 Propagation takes place underground via the rhizomes, which grow shoots practically “without end.”8 The fact that bananas can be propagated without fertilization means that most banana varieties are clones. New varieties of bananas can be created through accidental or targeted mutation breeding. The susceptibility of bananas to nematodes, viruses, and fungal diseases often drives targeted breeding to increase the robustness of bananas. One of the most common varieties of bananas is the Cavendish banana.
Bananas that are cultivated for export are mainly grown in monocultures and require a lot of pesticides. They also need a lot of water to grow. Bananas grow for two years on plantations and bear fruit just once. They thrive in direct sunlight as well as in shade and partial shade.9
On organic farms, diseases and pests are prevented by growing a mixed range of crops and planting the bananas far apart from one another. The soil is also maintained through mulching with sufficient organic material. This creates higher-quality, better-tasting bananas that have a firmer, yellower, and more aromatic skin. Organic bananas can also be kept longer without irradiation.2
Bananas are harvested for export when they are ripe green. They are taken to packing houses, where they are disinfected with sodium bisulfite or sodium hypochlorite. The temperature is reduced to 14–15 °C during shipment. Once the bananas reach their destination, they are stored in special ripening chambers where ethylene is added to speed up ripening.8
Nonorganic banana plantations use large quantities of pesticides. Airplanes are used to spray the plantations from above, not only harming the health of agricultural workers, but also polluting the groundwater. Open soil is particularly susceptible to polluted groundwater.
Plantations also cause major erosion; forests are chopped down to make way for banana plantations. Mass-produced bananas are mainly grown in monocultures, while smaller farms grow bananas with a mixed range of crops.7
There are approximately 50–60 types of bananas within the genus Musa in the banana family (Musaceae). Linnaeus described the original species as Musa sapientum or Musa paradisiaca; however, according to author Professor Heinz Brücher these are in fact sterile hybrids. There does not appear to be a botanically correct description of an original biological “type” of banana. Bananas may be diploid, triploid, or tetraploid, and many bananas are mutants and clones.7 Rehm and Espig argue that Musa x paradisiac is the original cultivated banana.8
Bananas are also known as Cavendish bananas, lady fingers, sugar bananas, latundan bananas, red bananas, plantains, hardy bananas, Williams, Grand Naine, Dwarf Cavendish, and Valery.
Plantains are related to Musa x paradisiaca, but they can only be eaten cooked. Boiling, grilling, and baking are all suitable methods to cook plantains. Banana blossoms, also known as “banana hearts,” are a popular fruit in Southeast Asia. Banana leaves are often used for serving and wrapping in a variety of recipes.10