You Shouldn't Throw Out Banana Peels. Here's Why

Humans are nothing if not resourceful, and Claire Lower at Lifehacker can definitely take her seat on the upcycling throne. She's showing us how to make bacon from banana peels, y'all. If anything could sway our interest towards a plant-based diet, it's this very convincing substitute for bacon. Given the world's love affair with vegan-friendly burgers, good meatless bacon couldn't have been far behind. In fact, Eat This, Not That! says meatless bacon is being made from all kinds of things these days, from the familiar tempeh and seitan bacon to the lesser-known coconut bacon, made from seasoned coconut flakes. 

But who would expect crispy, salty, temptingly delicious bacon to come from trash? Lower's series featuring "fake-un" (fake bacon) is called "Eating Trash With Claire," and it's where she helps you turn kitchen scraps into something you can't wait to eat. When faced with the task of creating a tasty, pork-like banana peel, Lower admits the peel needs a lot of assistance; there's not an awful lot of natural appeal there (wink, wink). Luckily, she's done all the research and development for us. We're just here to reap the plant-based rewards.

How to turn banana peels into bacon

The first peel-related challenge Lower addressed was the texture. Although Prevention suggests several inventive uses for banana peels, from stopping a CD from skipping (assuming you're still living in 1992) to whitening your teeth, you don't often see ideas for making banana peels palatable. They're bitter, rubbery, and have a very odd mouthfeel. So she did what any reasonable person with a skillet and an unsavory ingredient would do: fry it in bacon grease. This solved the texture problem immediately by rendering the banana peel crisp and a bit chewy, just like bacon ought to be. However, it did nothing for the bitter flavor and it took the fake-un a step in the opposite direction of being fit for meat-freers. 

Why bother making bacon from a plant if vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike can't indulge? A compromise of a quick flash fry in a skillet with vegetable or grapeseed oil, followed by a coating of sweet, salty, and smoky seasonings, and finished with a blast in the oven resulted in a pleasantly lacquered, almost candied fake-un, ready to spruce up your next sandwich or salad. A BLT with banana peel bacon sounds like a plant-based dream, but fake-un can likely stand in for its porky counterpart just about anywhere.

Banana peels might be your best bet for a bacon substitute

Preventing food waste by saving your banana peels from the trash and turning them into something creative and delicious is very cool, and the results will surely be Instagram-worthy. But did you know there are some pretty significant nutrition benefits for swapping out real bacon with banana peel fake-un? And we're not just talking about cutting calories. According to Healthline, banana peels are bursting with several key nutrients, like bone-strengthening potassium, heart-healthy fiber, and inflammation-busting antioxidants.

Real, pork bacon has a lot of protein but, unfortunately, it has just as many grams of fat. Very Well Fit says a 3-slice serving of bacon has 12 grams each of protein and fat. Although pork bacon does provide some potassium and B-vitamins, banana peels reign supreme, clocking in at 12 percent of your daily potassium and 20 percent of your daily B-vitamin intake. Both real bacon and your doctored-up banana peel fake-un will contain quite a bit of sodium, so just keep that in mind if you're embarking on this banana peel bacon experiment in pursuit of a "healthier" option and not just for the hashtag possibilities.

Banana peel bacon wisdom

As you prepare for your banana peel bacon experience, there are a few things to keep in mind. Lower recommends you use organic bananas, wash the peels well, and remove all the stringy insides. Sigh... we still haven't found a good use for those things. Also, there are multiple steps and ingredients to the fake-un process, so give yourself plenty of time to work your trash-to-treasure magic and be sure to have soy sauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, garlic powder, liquid smoke, sweet paprika, and a couple of pinches of MSG (if you're into that kind of thing) on hand. 

These flavor-enhancing ingredients are essential for combating the bitterness of the peel and locking in the bacon-y essence you're looking for. Hey, nobody said turning banana peels into bacon was simple. Now that you've used all those peels in the name of plant-based bacon, you probably need some ideas for what to do with the actual bananas. Banana bread is always a winner, of course. Or, perhaps a quick and easy batch of one-ingredient banana ice cream with crumbled banana peel bacon on top? Yes, please.