Whoever said bananas were only good for eating are going to be in for a surprise!

The ripe banana is utilized in a multitude of ways in the human diet—from simply being peeled and eaten out of-hand to being sliced and served in fruit cups and salads, sandwiches, custards etc. But we all know the food uses of banana, (see some recipes further below).

But what else are bananas (and its peel) - ripe or not - good for?  Read on!

The Many Uses of Banana:

A banana tree on Banana Island in Luxor, Egypt
Around the World...
Banana Leaf uses
  • Seat pads for benches are made of strips of dried banana pseudostems, (a 2-3m false stem made of the rolled bases of leaves), in Ecuador.
  • In West Africa, fiber from the pseudostem is valued for fishing lines.
  • In the Philippines, it is woven into a thin, transparent fabric called "agna" which is the principal material in some regions for women's blouses and men's shirts. It is also used for making handkerchiefs.
  • In Ceylon, it is fashioned into soles for inexpensive shoes and used for floor coverings.
  • Dried banana peel, because of its 30 to 40% tannin content, is used to blacken leather. The ash from the dried peel of bananas and plantains is rich in potash and used for making soap. That of the burned peel of unripe fruits of certain varieties is used for dyeing.
  • In Latin America, it is a common practice during rains to hold a banana leaf by the petiole, upside-down, over one's back as an "umbrella" or "raincoat".

Other derivitive uses
  • In the Philippines, the Pinatubo Negritos cut off a banana plant close to the ground, make a hollow in the top of the stump, which then fills with watery sap drunk as an emergency thirst quencher.
  • Central Americans obtain the sap of the red banana in the same manner and take it as an aphrodisiac.
  • In Africa, ripe bananas are made into beer and wine. The Tropical Products Institute in London has established a simple procedure for preparing an acceptable vinegar from fermented banana rejects.
  • In Costa Rica, ripe bananas from an entire bunch are peeled and boiled slowly for hours to make a thick sirup which is called "honey".
  •  In Japan, banana cultivation for clothing and household use dates back to at least the 13th century. In the Japanese system, leaves and shoots are cut from the plant periodically to ensure softness. Harvested shoots are first boiled in lye to prepare fibers for yarn-making. These banana shoots produce fibers of varying degrees of softness, yielding yarns and textiles with differing qualities for specific uses. For example, the outermost fibers of the shoots are the coarsest, and are suitable for tablecloths, while the softest innermost fibers are desirable for kimono and kamishimo. This traditional Japanese cloth-making process requires many stepsIn a Nepalese system the trunk is harvested instead, and small pieces are subjected to a softening process, mechanical fiber extraction, bleaching and drying. After that, the fibers are sent to the Kathmandu Valley for use in rugs with a silk-like texture. In a Nepalese system the trunk is harvested instead, and small pieces are subjected to a softening process, mechanical fiber extraction, bleaching and drying. After that, the fibers are sent to the Kathmandu Valley for use in rugs with a silk-like texture. These banana fiber rugs are woven by traditional Nepalese hand-knotting methods.

Other Uses...

Animal Feed
Reject ripe bananas, supplemented with protein, vitamins and minerals, are commonly fed to swine.
Tenderize a roast
Banana leaves are commonly used in many Asian countries to wrap meat as it’s cooking to make it more tender. Some folks in these areas say the banana itself also has this ability. So the next time you fear the roast you’re cooking will turn tough on you, try softening it up by adding a ripe, peeled banana to the pan.

Deter aphids
Are aphids attacking your rosebushes or other plants? Bury dried or cut-up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the aphid-prone plants, and soon the little suckers will pack up and leave. Don’t use whole peels or the bananas themselves, though; they tend to be viewed as tasty treats by raccoons, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and other animals, who will just dig them up.

Brighten up houseplants
Are the leaves on your houseplants looking dingy or dusty? Don’t bother misting them with water — that just spreads the dirt around. Rather, wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel. It’ll remove all the gunk on the surface and replace it with a lustrous shine.

Attract butterflies and birds
Bring more butterflies and various bird species to your backyard by putting out overripe bananas (as well as other fruits such as mangos, oranges, and papayas) on a raised platform. Punch a few holes in the bananas to make the fruit more accessible to the butterflies. Some enthusiasts swear by adding a drop of Gatorade to further mush things up. The fruit is also likely to attract more bees and wasps as well, so make sure that the plat-form is well above head level and not centrally located. Moreover, you’ll probably want to clear it off before sunset, to discourage visits from raccoons and other nocturnal creatures.

Make a face mask
Who needs Botox when you have bananas? That’s right: You can use a banana as an all-natural face mask that moisturizes your skin and leaves it looking and feeling softer. Mash up a medium-sized ripe banana into a smooth paste, then gently apply it to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water. Another popular mask recipe calls for 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 medium banana.

Shoe or Silverware Shiner
You just ran out of shoe shine just when you need it for a job interview. Not to worry. When you’re finished with your breakfast banana, don’t throw out the peel. Remove the stringy material from the inside, then rub the soft inside of the skin all over your shoes. When done, buff it up with a soft cloth or paper towel. The same technique can be used for silverware. Some even claim that it works on leather. Test in on a small area of the leather first, though, just to be on the safe side.

Dry out banana peels, grind them up (in a food processor, for example), and use as mulch for new plants and seedlings.

Houseplant Fertilizer
Put a banana peel into a large jar, cover it with water, and let it soak. Top up your watering can with the banana peel liquid (one part banana-peel water to five parts regular water). Keep topping up the water in your banana-peel jar (one banana peel goes a long way) to keep the fertilizer coming.


Antifungal and antibiotic principles are found in the peel and pulp of fully ripe bananas.

Cure a hangover
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Mosquito bites
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin - known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?
Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods (such as bananas) every two hours to keep levels steady.

Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer, trypotophan.

Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking, as the high levels of Vitamin C, A1, B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalise the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water-balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be re-balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine"eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Temperature control
Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronic ulcer cases. It also neutralises over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Those keen on natural alternatives swear that, if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!  

Some Banana Recipes other than Banana Bread

  • Banana Meat LoafFrom Bananas: How To Serve Them, 1941
    1 pound ground beef
    1 cup soft bread crumbs
    1 tablespoon chopped onion
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    3/4 cup mashed banana
    1 teaspoon dry mustard
    Mix the beef, crumbs, onion, salt and pepper until fully incorporated. Add the mustard to the mashed banana and mix into beef. Pack into oiled loaf pan and bake at 350 for one hour, or until cooked through. (Recipe from eatmedaily.com/)

  • Elvis's Favorite Sandwich: Peanut Butter Banana Bacon and Honey Explosion
    aka Banana Bacon Sandwich
    chunky peanut butter
    honey sandwich bread of your choice
    ripe bananas
    butter for cooking
    Heat up your skillet or grill pan. Cook bacon until crispy.
    Remove from heat and blot with paper towel. Spread peanut butter over
    one side of bread. Layer with sliced banana and cooked bacon.
    Drizzle with honey. Top with other bread slice, butter both sides of
    bread and add to skillet. Brown one side of bread and flip,
    pressing with spatula. When the bread has reached your desired
    doneness, about 5-7 minutes on each side, take off, slice and enjoy! (Recipe from goodbite.com/)

  • Banana Nut Martini (see recipe in 'Related Videos')

  • Banana Ice Cream - The One Ingredient Recipe!
    Peel your bananas first.
    Cut them into small pieces.
    Freeze for just 1-2 hours on a plate.
    Blend, blend, blend - scraping down the bowl when they stick.
    Enjoy the magic moment when they turn into ice cream! (Recipe from thekitchn.com/)

Purplish banana flowers (Thai: hua plee), with behind them folded banana leaves (Thai: bai kluay), are commonly sold in Thai markets.
Thais use banana flowers raw in such dishes as yum hua plee (a spicy salad with thinly sliced uncooked banana flowers) or steamed whole as one of the ingredients eaten with the spicy Thai chilli dip called nam phrik kapi. It can also feature in soups such as tom yum or deep fried as tod mun hua plee. Steamed, the taste of the flowers is somewhat similar to that of artichokes.
Banana leaves are often used as (ecologically friendly) disposable food containers or as "plates". Steamed with dishes such as hor mok pla it imparts a subtle sweet flavour. It is often also seen used as a wrapping for grilling food and as such it contains the juices of the wrapped food and prevents the food from getting burned whilst at the same time giving off a subtle flavour. - wikipedia


Did You Know...
  • Banana sap from the pseudostem, peelings or flesh may be sufficiently sticky for adhesive uses.
  • In Polynesia, there is a traditional method of preserving large quantities of bananas for years as emergency fare in case of famine. A pit is dug in the ground and lined with banana and Heliconza leaves. The peeled bananas are wrapped in Heliconza leaves, arranged in layer after layer, then banana leaves are placed on top and soil and rocks heaped over all. The pits remain unopened until the fermented food, called "masi", is needed.
  • Commercial production and marketing of fried green plantain and banana chips has been increasing in various parts of the world over the past 25 years and these products are commonly found in retail groceries alongside potato chips and other snack foods.
  • Canadian researchers have developed a system of osmotic dehydration for sliced firm ripe bananas and plantains, especially designed for developing countries with plentiful sugar for the solutions required.
  • Since the early 1960's, Brazil has produced dehydrated banana flakes for local markets and export to the USA and elsewhere in vacuum sealed cans. The flakes are used on cereal, in baked goods, canapes, meat loaf and curries, desserts, sauces, and other products.
  • Israel has also introduced a formula for high-protein flakes made of 70% banana and 30% soybean protein and this development has been adopted in Brazil. The flakes are used by Brazilian food manufacturers in ice cream, and as fillings for cakes and other bakery products. South Africa has produced flakes of 2/3 banana and 1/3 maize meal.
  • Banana peel may have capability to extract heavy metal contamination from river water, similar to other purification materials.
  • In India, a solution of the ash from burned leaves and pseudostems is used as salt in seasoning vegetable curries.
  • Dried green plantains, ground fine and roasted, have been used as a substitute for coffee.
  • Plantain fiber is said to be superior to that from bananas.
  • The banana plant because of its continuous reproduction is regarded by Hindus as a symbol of fertility and prosperity, and the leaves and fruits are deposited on doorsteps of houses where marriages are taking place.
  • A banana plant is often installed in the corner of a rice field as a protective charm.
  • Malay women bathe with a decoction of banana leaves for 15 days after childbirth.
  • Early Hawaiians used a young plant as a truce flag in wars.
  • The cover artwork for the debut album of The Velvet Underground features a banana made by Andy Warhol. On the original vinyl LP version, the design allowed the listener to 'peel' this banana to find a pink, peeled phallic banana on the inside.
  • In Thailand it is believed that banana trees may be inhabited by a spirit, Nang Tani (Thai: นางตานี), a type of ghost related to trees that manifests itself as a young woman. Often people tie a length of colored satin cloth around the trunk of the banana tree.
  • Cavendish bananas are the most commonly sold bananas in the world market.
  • In 2009, India led the world in banana production, representing approximately 28% of the worldwide crop, mostly for domestic consumption. The Philippines was second with China behind them.

Related Videos...

Have you got a great use for banana or its peel?

Resource(s):  hort.purdue.edu/rd.com/wikipedia, banana.com/, lifehackery.com/, wisebread.com/,
Main-photo credit: dskley

No comments:

Post a Comment