It takes a very particular kind of person to look at a banana skin and think, “that looks delicious”. In most circumstances, this person is clearly not to be trusted. However, it turns out that there may be more to banana skins than old conventions about embarrassingly slipping over in the street. Despite all our preconceptions about how something old, yellow and smelly might taste, some people on the internet are claiming that banana skin may be the next animal-free superstar ingredient.
Last month, a recipe from plant-based blogger “The Stingy Vegan” blew up the internet, after the author claimed that leftover banana peel can be used as a replacement for pulled pork. The recipe calls for shredded banana skins to be mixed with a blend of smokey barbecue spices and seasoning, before being cooked in a pan for around five minutes, leaving a pile of what looks like a strange combination between tagliatelle and rubber bands.
Despite the unconventional ingredients on display, The Stingy Vegan is convinced that banana peel can do the job. In anticipation of everyone’s first question, the blogger reveals that “no, they are not bitter and no it doesn’t taste like banana,” adding that “The trick is to choose bananas that are not quite ripe yet as the peels are firmer and thicker, and scrape out the white skin part from the inside.” She also assures readers that “banana peels are perfectly edible. You can google that.”
The Stingy Vegan also advises that the cooking of the peel is absolutely integral to the success of the dish. Cooks should “toss them in a pan and add a few splashes of water to help them steam and tenderize” for best results, being careful not to over or undercook them. As she puts it, “You do not want to undercook them or else you won’t be able to bite through your sandwich and that’s unpleasant. You don’t want to overcook them either or they will start to turn to mush so be careful. Generally speaking they’ll need about five minutes.”
Of course, anyone well versed in the ways of vegan cookery will know that banana peels aren’t the only odd pulled pork replacement in a plant-based repertoire. In the last few years, jackfruit has become increasingly popular, on account of its unique “stringy” quality, while other dishes call for everything from carrots to coconuts.
Despite how surprising a banana peel recipe might seem, a closer look reveals that cooks have been using the ingredient for quite some time. Instagram is rife with images of banana skin burgers, bacon and even tuna, proving just how versatile it can be. While it might look slightly unappetising at first glance, there’s little doubt that, with some clever cooking, banana peel can become so much more than the cherry on top of the compost heap.