There’s more to bananas than just the fruit

There are so many products familiar to us that we tend to just see a single use for. The banana tree is an incredible plant with many applications.

For most of us, our only familiarity with bananas is the fruit we buy at the supermarket. Bananas are a healthy food (eaten in moderation of course), containing potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6. They are low in fat and contain complex carbohydrates.

Native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, today they are cultivated in plantations throughout the tropics. 

From an environmental viewpoint, banana plantations have their negative and positive attributes. The negative side of things is given the type of conditions needed to grow bananas, it usually means rainforest is needed to be cleared to establish them. Improper use of pesticides on banana crops may also leach into waterways and surrounding areas.

Those issues aside, banana plantations seem to be very sustainable in themselves once up and running and an amazing aspect is just about every part of the banana tree can be used, for example:

  • Banana hearts are used as a vegetable in Asian cuisine
  • The leaves are often used as plates or wrapping for grilling food
  • The core of the trunk can also be eaten
  • Banana leaves, shoots and trunk can produce fiber suitable for making textile products such as rugs and clothing
  • The bark, stem and fruits can be used to make paper
  • Skin can be used for dyeing
  • Sap can be utilized as marking ink
  • Banana tree roots and other parts of the plant are used in alternative medicine

Uses for banana peel

One of the great things about bananas is they come in their own environmentally friendly biodegradable packaging – the peel. When you’re done with eating a banana, instead of throwing the peel away, consider some of these other uses:

  • Compost or use as mulch
  • Add banana peels to your worm farm – it seems worms love them
  • Cut up the peel and place it just under the surface near plants to deter aphids
  • De-string the inside of the peel and use the remaining peel for shining leather or silverware
  • Make banana peel cake or pie (search Google for a recipe)
  • Banana peel vinegar

When digging around for information on the topic, I also saw many references to using the peel to treat various skin conditions.

I also spotted a few people suggesting drying it and smoking it. I can tell you from first hand experience from my very misspent youth – it doesn’t work. :).