If you’re looking at this recipe with a mashup of mild curiosity and major skepticism, you’re not alone. That was my response when I heard that home cooks were putting banana peels in baked goods. But it only took one bite of my first loaf to change my perspective.
Here’s why: It’s tender, perfectly sweet, and yes, just as good as the banana bread I’ve been baking since middle school. You’d never know the difference.
Where Did this Banana Peel Business Come From?
Good question. First off, using banana peels in cooking may be new to me (and perhaps to you), but cultures in various pockets of the globe have been doing it for generations. Even Nigella Lawson, Britain’s grand dame of television cookery, has a recipe called Banana Peel Curry.
As for banana peel bread? From what I can gather, the idea began after Lindsay-Jean Hard, author of Cooking with Scraps, taught a cooking class at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That inspired the kitchen to experiment with recipes that use all the scraps and peels. Alas, no-waste banana bread was born.
Why Make Banana Bread With the Peel?
Banana bread made the old-fashioned way is arguably a perfect food, so why mess with it? There are a few pretty interesting reasons.
- It cuts food waste. That’s a good thing for the planet, since food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gasses.
- It’s nutritious. That’s right. It’s a source of fiber, phytochemicals with antioxidant benefits, vitamins, and minerals.
- It’s economical. The peel is about a third of the weight of the banana. By using the peel, you need fewer bananas, which means you might have one or two extra in your fruit bowl for your peanut butter toast or afternoon snack.
- It makes fantastic banana bread. I don’t care how nutritious, economical, or eco-friendly a recipe is—if it doesn’t taste good, I’m out. And this is a mighty fine loaf.
Special Tricks for Making This Bread
The method for this recipe and its core ingredients are no different than any other banana bread. The one difference is that the peels require a bit of advance prep. Here are a few good things to know:
- Use ripe bananas. Be sure the bananas are mottled with plenty of black spots. That means sweeter fruit and softer peels.
- Freeze and then defrost the bananas. This is another step that softens the peel enough to mix seamlessly into your batter.
- Purée the bananas in a food processor. Mashing the fruit with a fork is all that’s needed when using just the fruit. But add in the peel, and you need the muscle of a food processor to get it silky smooth.
Use Organic Bananas
Although our recipes rarely specify organic ingredients, this one is an exception. That’s because bananas are a pesticide-intensive crop according to the Environmental Working Group. Only a tiny level of those pesticides makes it past the peel onto the fruit, but if you are eating it peel, organic is the way to go.
Swaps and Substitutions for Banana Bread
This banana bread recipe leaves lots of room for creative swaps and substitutions. Here are a few I recommend.
- Swap pecans, hazelnuts, or other chopped nuts for walnuts.
- Use chocolate chips instead of or in addition to walnuts.
- For an entirely whole grain loaf, use 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour.
- If you don’t have whole wheat flour, make the bread entirely with all-purpose flour.
- Use vegetable oil or melted coconut oil in lieu of the olive oil.
- Add spices, such as 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, or 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
- Scatter your favorite seeds on top, such as raw pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower seeds.
We’re Bananas for Banana Bread
Whole Banana Bread
Ripe bananas are dotted with black spots. To soften the peel, you will need to freeze them for at least 8 hours and then thaw them on the counter for 2 hours or in the microwave for about 3 minutes, so plan accordingly.
Instead of the whole-wheat pastry flour, you can use whole wheat all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, or all-purpose flour.
Recipe adapted from a recipe by Zingerman’s Bakehouse.
3 medium very ripe organic bananas, about 1 pound
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the loaf pan
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (123g) whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup (123g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup (72g) chopped walnuts
- Food processor
Prepare the bananas:
Wash the bananas. Pinch off the stem and hard end of each banana and discard. Put the whole, unpeeled bananas in a bowl, and freeze them for at least 8 hours or overnight (or for several weeks, if you like!).
Defrost them on the counter until very soft, at least 2 hours. Alternatively, defrost them in the microwave, about 3 minutes on the defrost setting.
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with olive oil.
Purée the bananas:
Purée the melted whole bananas in a food processor fitted with a metal blade for about 30 seconds. Some tiny brown bits will remain. You should have about 1 1/2 rounded cups of banana purée.
Mix the wet ingredients:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the banana purée, brown sugar, maple syrup, olive oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and blended.
Mix the dry ingredients:
In a medium bowl, whisk the whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.
Combine the batter:
Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine just until blended with no streaks of dry flour. Add the walnuts and give it a few stirs.
Bake the banana bread:
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake until the bread is deeply brown and moist crumbs cling to a toothpick when inserted in the center, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It rises into a lovely dome with some deep crags along the top.
Cool and serve:
Let the banana bread cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges, tip the bread out of the pan onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 17g||22%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||12%|
|Total Carbohydrate 48g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 24g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||16%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|