Healthy Snacks

dried, chewy bananas

bananas like you’ve never seen them ::::

I’ve been accused of feeding people tree bark when I offer these. Flavorful tree bark. Chewy tree bark. Like candy tree bark. Tree bark that, well, doesn’t taste like tree bark. Dumpster divers and/or fruit neglectors, get ready: go get your spotty, freckled bananas and bring them to me. I’ve got plans for them. It’s almost unfair that I’m calling this recipe, people. It’s just one ingredient. One! And it’s not even pretty!

Dried bananas are nothing new and most of us may encounter them as banana “chips” sold in the stores. Chips? Wait, doesn’t that need more than one ingredient? Like lots of oil? And they’re sweetened with added sugar? And they’re fried? I’m not discounting my love of fried food, but it’s so not necessary here. Sweetening a ripe banana is like mixing honey into syrup.

A naturally dried banana, with nothing but the heat of your oven, food dehydrator, or the sun, is packed with flavor and vitamins. This recipes embraces the natural sugars of the bananas — and makes you think you’re eating a caramel candy. If you’re not a banana lover, these might change you into one. The flavor is unparalleled. The size of the banana and the dry time will yield either a softer, chewy, taffy-like banana bite or a tougher consistency, licorice-like almost. Look at the photo above for a guide: my bananas are medium sized, cut lengthwise, halved lengthwise again then cut into thirds or fourths. I dried these bananas for 8 hours for a taffy-like chew. (UPDATE: You may need less time, depending on humidity, size of bananas, and your true oven temperature. Check consistency at 5-6 hours to make sure you don’t end up with bananas that are too hard to chew.)

 

Here’s my gauge to give you an idea on yield:
4 unpeeled, medium-sized bananas = 714 grams
4 peeled of the above = 489 grams (or 1.2 lbs or 17.25 ounces)
4 bananas cut up (see notes below in Step 1 of the recipe) filled 2 small cookie sheets (9 1/2 x 13 1/2-inch sheets). See spacing in above photos.
Chewy, taffy consistency (with a little stickiness but not enough to mess the fingers) = 135 grams dried bananas (or 4.4 ounces)
Storage: For 4 bananas, I can store them easily in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag (6.5 x 5 7/8 inch or 16.6 x 14.9 cm).

If you have ample space, drying racks, and many mouths to feed, make more that just four bananas at one time. These go fast. Trust me. And if you’re feeling really crazy, sprinkle them with cinnamon. Eek. These are great packed in the car for breakfast nibbles or stuffed in a backpack for a mountain hike.

Speaking of mountain hikes, I’ll be taking a jaunt down to Big Sur and Monterey, swinging up to Napa next week for a family vacation. Computer access will be hazy; the skies, bright and sunny. Perfect for dried bananas and hiking. Surely a glass (or two) of wine will find its way to my table at last also. While I’m away, I’ll still post recipes saved up from a recent flurry of activity in my kitchen.

UPDATE July 2013: This recipe has been chosen as one of the 10 best banana recipes by the British newspaper The Guardian !  Check out the Life and Style section on 19 July, 2013 for the shout-out. (Scroll down to the bottom of the article for my recipe.) Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/20/10-best-banana-recipes-cook. I’m not sure how long this link will be active, so I’ll be getting a hard copy for my bragging rights archives.

 

5.0 from 5 reviews
dried, chewy bananas
Author: 
Recipe type: healthy snack
 
Allow dry time to range from 6 to 12 hours. My medium-sized bananas usually take about 6 or 7.
Ingredients
  • ripe bananas (not too mushy or they won't stay on your drying racks)
  • drying racks (cooling racks for baked goods are what I use)
  • baking sheets (9½ x 13½-inch sheets)
Instructions
  1. Peel bananas then cut bananas lengthwise. Then cut each length into two lengths. You will have four long banana pieces. Cut these width-wise into thirds or fourths (depending on size and if your bananas are starting to break on the curves). You will have 12-16 pieces per whole banana.
  2. Place pieces in single layer without touching onto drying racks with sheet pan underneath. (There might be some stickiness when drying and the pan helps prevent getting it on your oven rack.)
  3. Set oven to lowest temperature (mine is 170 degrees F) and place banana-filled racks inside.*
  4. To ensure good air circulation for drying, I keep my oven door cracked with an oven mitt. Allow bananas to bake for 6-12 hours (Again, depends on banana thickness, desired chewiness, and your temperature. See my notes above for 8 hour drying. Check sooner to find what you like.) I checked on these every couple of hours, turning them halfway to unstick them from the drying rack. I find putting them on the skin side of the flesh (not the cut side), they seem to stick less. You may also use a quick spray of non-stick cooking spray on the racks before placing bananas on them.
  5. Allow to cool completely before eating. These keep for months, that is, if you hide some away in the dark corners of your cupboards and forget about them. UPDATE: I've done a little more research on drying. This information is cobbled together from many sources, and I haven't tried it yet. To decrease any energy consumption involving drying, try drying outside. Fashion a rectangular frame (an old wooden window frame is fine), stretch with thin mesh netting, place bananas on mesh, and cover with mesh to keep insects from taste-testing. You need to turn the bananas 2 to 3 times a day. Drying will be complete in 3 to 6 days.
Notes
For yield, see calculations in post above recipe.

* Alternatively, you could use a food dehydrator to do the drying. The Excalibur is supposed to be the Cadillac of dehydrators. If I had space, I'd probably have one. A toaster oven might also be useful here, but you won't have enough space to dry a large amount.

    33 COMMENTS

  • David March 25, 2011 Reply

    I've tried these! Amazing!

    • Suzanne Silvis September 27, 2019 Reply

      Can you use an air dryer? How long ti you cook it

      • story kitchen September 27, 2019 Reply

        I bet and air dryer would work great. I’ve never tried one with bananas but suspect the air flow would help them dry more quickly. I’d start with checking their consistency every hour or so to make sure they don’t get too dried out.

  • Dawn D'Orazio March 26, 2011 Reply

    Excellent timing! Three bananas at the perfect state of ripeness and a trip to the mountains beginning Monday. Guess what I'm going to be doing tomorrow??

  • Story March 26, 2011 Reply

    Dawn: skiing? This will be a nice snack, for sure.

  • Dawn D'Orazio March 27, 2011 Reply

    Made the bananas today. Ohmigosh – SO good. Pretty sure they won't make it all the way to CO. 🙂 Yep, skiing – Tuesday thru Friday. Yay!

  • Talvi January 5, 2014 Reply

    I’ve been trying to get sticky dried bananas by putting them on a radiator with their skins on – so, similar to outside, right!! 😀 So, I need to peel them first, but, while there are no insects in the flat what are the issues with them going bad (mold etc) over the extended time needed to dry them??

    • story January 5, 2014 Reply

      It depends on how hot the radiator is, the size of the banana pieces, and overall ambient humidity to determine how fast the bananas will dry. A dip in lemon juice may help with the mold concern as well as prevent some discoloration. Usually peeled bananas can sit for a couple of days without mold. Six days are the limit.

      • Georgina October 20, 2019 Reply

        I’d drying outside.. do they need to be in the sun all day? Or just by being outside should be enough? Thank you

        • story kitchen October 20, 2019 Reply

          It depends on how fast they are drying in the temperature and humidity as well as how thick the pieces are. Being in the sun longer will hasten the drying. I don’t think the shade (unless short-lived) would dry them quickly enough.

  • everyday meal July 11, 2014 Reply

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest
    of the website is extremely good.

  • George Askew July 14, 2014 Reply

    How long will these dried chewy bananas last after being produced? Thanks.

    • story July 15, 2014 Reply

      I’d guess for months, given they are dried. They never last that long in our house.

  • jess October 19, 2014 Reply

    Stupid question maybe, but can you eat the banana skins when they’ve been dried, since there is no mention here of having to remove the skins? Obviously you wouldn’t eat them normally, but i wondered whether drying turned them crispy or made them in some way edible? 🙂

    • story October 19, 2014 Reply

      I’ll update the recipe to be clear that one must peel the bananas in this drying process, and that the flesh is what is being dried, not the peel. If you look at the photos, the bananas are peeled. I have heard of people eating banana skins, but actually boiling them first, or juicing them. I imagine drying them would make them very tough to eat. I don’t have any experience with this, personally.

  • phil July 30, 2015 Reply

    I live in southern Spain.
    Bananas on a baking tray with a large sieve to keep the bugs off. In the sun for a few days does it for me.
    I tend to use the brown bananas that I hate eating raw and that way I avoid chucking food in the trash.
    Never get a chance to see how long they’ll last.

    • story July 31, 2015 Reply

      Thanks for the advice! I may try this before the summer heat disappears this year.

    • Jaquie July 31, 2016 Reply

      Holidaying in La Palma Canary Islands, I have used the method above with great success, and I am now doing the same again. It is a good way to preserve gifts of bananas to take back home in my case to England. I first ate bananas like this in the 1940’s when sent to England by relatives in North America.
      Only bananas and hot sun essential

      • story kitchen August 1, 2016 Reply

        Great! Thanks for the feedback.

  • […] trip, I happened to stumble upon a cute little health foods store (Circle Health Food) that carried dried whole bananas, and an idea for a delicious, healthy, protein bite popped into my […]

  • Anne September 11, 2015 Reply

    I am inquiring if you can melt natural peanut butter dip the dried bananas in this solution so the kids will eat with a peanut butter flavor.

    • story September 16, 2015 Reply

      Sure! I don’t see why you can’t try that.

  • Julie G July 24, 2016 Reply

    You would need to be VERY sure your bananas truly are organic with no sprays of any kind!! I’ve heard that they spray the boxes bananas are shipped in, due to tarantulas trying to sneak a ride to America. So I would Not recommend eating any banana peel!!!
    I Love the chewy dried bananas! Don’t like the hard ones that taste like coconut & are sweetened.

    • story July 25, 2016 Reply

      Yes, agreed! Banana peels do not seem appealing at all, although I do know of people who do eat them boiled, and hopefully organic.

  • Julie G July 24, 2016 Reply

    Ps that also means don’t reuse banana boxes from grocery stores, for packing to move OR for mulching your garden. A grocery person informed me of this years ago.

  • Jeff January 23, 2018 Reply

    Great recipe and write up, thank you!
    Did you know that bananas will naturally split into three segments (lengthwise) without slicing them?

    How-to:
    1. Peel a banana.
    2. Cut (or bite) the tip off.
    3. Push a finger slowly into the center of the end of the banana.
    4. The banana will slowly separate itself into 3 segments.

    A computer programmer friend showed me this years ago. He was the first person that I ever met who made his own dried, chewy, tasty bananas. They didn’t last long when he brought them to work 🙂

    • story kitchen January 23, 2018 Reply

      Yes, actually I have seen this. I’ve never tried it for dried banana making, though a great idea! Thanks!

  • Brenda Belokrinicev May 5, 2019 Reply

    I’m so excited to find this recipe. I used to buy dried bananas like this, decades ago, and can no longer find them. I love these!

    • story kitchen May 5, 2019 Reply

      It’s a great recipe!

      • Nick August 7, 2019 Reply

        Have you tried drying them with the skins on. My gran introduced me to whole sun dried bananas when I was a kid, about 60 years ago. You can still buy whole sun-dried bananas but they are getting difficult to find these days, shame.
        The baby ones look a bit like cocktail sausages, so you can actually have a bit of fun aft parties with them. 😁

        • story kitchen August 7, 2019 Reply

          I’ve not seen them in stores around my area, though I have heard of people boiling or juicing the skins. I’ve never tried drying bananas with skins, though I’m getting more curious to try. At a cocktail party, one could get away with calling them “vegan, sweet sausages” perhaps? Ha ha!

  • cg August 5, 2020 Reply

    Cannot find any info on what to do with dried bananas that are sticking to each other after being dried. Have sprinkled some with cinnamon. I need something as we have a buffet style fruit tasting table at our rare fruit meetings and if I put the dehydrated bananas on the table without something keeping them apart then the first person will probably half empty the plate. Don’t want to use powdered sugar as there is toooo much sugar put in everything today. Tku

    • story kitchen August 5, 2020 Reply

      I use a tiny bit of oil on the racks when I dry if there is more ambient humidity. That might help keep them from sticking on a plate too. You can also present them spread in a single layer on a platter to prevent sticking.

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