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How To Transform Banana Peels Into Plant-Based Bacon

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May 25, 2021
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Plant-based meats are all over the supermarket these days, but what if we told you there's a way to make some at home with an ingredient you already have—and probably toss?

Bananas have had quite a moment over the last year (we'll never forget the banana bread craze of spring 2020), and now they're on track for another moment...or really, their peels are.

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It's hard to say where it began, but all over TikTok and Instagram people are using banana peels to make a plant-based bacon alternative that even looks like the real thing. We're more familiar with mushroom, eggplant, and even carrots transforming into faux bacon, so we were intrigued when the videos started circulating.

Wait — banana peels are edible?

For years we've been peeling bananas and composting the peels (after using them in a quick natural fertilizer first, of course). But they're actually edible and offer many of the same nutrients as the banana itself.

Many cultures have been eating banana peels for years. You can find recipes for banana peel curries or banana peel chutneys online and in cookbooks. So yes, add them to the list of fruits that have surprisingly edible peels (looking at you, kiwi).

According to research, banana peel flour (which is derived, of course, from banana peels) showed that the peels themselves are rich in nutrients1 like essential amino acids and fiber. Another study, conducted in test tubes, found that less-ripe peels were also rich in antioxidants2. If you are going to eat the peels, it's worth picking up organic bananas to minimize any pesticides on the peel—though you'll still want to scrub them.

How to make banana peel bacon.

There are literally hundreds of videos on social media right now where people make this trend, many with their own twist. We came across it on the TikTok account wearegirlswhoeat, where she has a video showing how she uses a simple marinade and an air fryer (yep!) to make perfectly crisp plant-based bacon. Here's a quick overview of how she does it:

  1. Using very ripe bananas, scoop the extra flesh off the inside of the peel.
  2. Mix up a quick marinade of coconut aminos, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, maple syrup, and some salt—or add a few spices of your own choosing.
  3. Add the peels, and let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes so the flavor has time to soak into the peels.
  4. From there, you can cook the "bacon" in a pan (at 2 to 3 minutes per side), or do as the video does and cook them for about 10 minutes in the air fryer.
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Want a full recipe? You can find the Girls Who Eat recipe in full here.

How should you use plant-based bacon?

While you can enjoy it just as it is (this recipe advises eating it right when you make it, not storing it), there's actually a lot of things you can try with this vegan alternative to bacon. Use it to top a salad like this BLT-inspired option—or for that matter, just make a simple BLT, opting for leafy greens instead of iceberg or romaine if you want to add more nutrients to the mix. You could also chop it and sprinkle it on a grain bowl, or use it to top off a tray of roasted vegetables. The opportunities are endless, really.

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