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No one should be deprived of the full-fledged brunch experience, least of all vegans. It’s one of the biggest reasons (we assume) there are dozens of vegan bacon varieties on the market. Nothing goes quite with a classic tofu scramble and crispy sweet potato hash browns like a side of crispy, salty vegan bacon.
But there’s a new kind of vegan bacon shaking things up: Banana peel bacon.
Why Banana Peels are so A–peeling to Us
Perhaps doing anything with a banana peel besides throwing it away or using it to trip your enemies is the norm for you, but in countries like Southern India, Southwest Asia, and Venezuela, banana flesh is used in traditional recipes. When cooked in recipes like banana curry, the peels can be soft and similar to that of eggplant in both taste and texture.
As for nutritional benefits, banana peels are rich in potassium, fiber, protein, and essential amino acids.
Another reason to eat peels is to reduce waste. Nearly 3.5 million tons of banana peels are wasted every year. That’s why Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain uses banana peels as an alternative to pulled pork in her infamous recipe.
Toon De Backer, writer and recipe creator for Surprising Recipes, has experience cooking banana peel currys and says as long as you’re careful about washing the peel, it’s a delicious ingredient.
“I let it weaken in water the whole day to make it soft,” Backer says. “Then I bake it in the wok, as part of the curry. It’s super tender then, and it has a bit of the sweetness of a banana without making the curry really sweet.”
This Bacon is Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S
With all that said, yes, banana peel bacon is not only a thing, but it’s environmentally-conscious and nutritious.
“Vegan banana bacon is probably the best known banana peel recipe,” Backer says. “Other people use it in bread, muffins and smoothies once it’s weakened and mixed in. You have a lot of fibers and a bit of banana sweetness without being dominant.”
“Since I stopped eating red meat (pork included) over a decade ago, I was excited to see how banana peel bacon would resemble traditional bacon,” Koll says. “I was definitely skeptical, but up for the challenge.”
The end result, she says, was crunchy with a slightly banana taste packed with flavor.
The main ingredient is simple: Bananas. But skip the green or just-ready yellow bananas. Koll uses ripe ones for her vegan bacon, ideally with lots of brown spots.
“That will give the bacon added flavor and will taste better and sweeter,” she says.
She opts for organic bananas and rinses her peels well to remove pesticide residue. After washing, Koll marinates her peels in coconut aminos, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, maple syrup and salt. While she cooks them in an air fryer (380 degrees Fahrenheit for four minutes) Koll says you can also use the stovetop.
“On the stovetop, these are similar to regular bacon because you’re cooking both sides on the frying pan. However, since these are already coated in oil and seasoning, you don’t need to coat the pan with oil like you would with regular bacon.”
All to say, the next time we brunch, banana peel bacon is definitely welcome to the table.
Photo credit: Jamie Koll