A few years ago, I lived in a town with a Sam’s Club. As a single mom, I shopped there weekly, and filled my cart with 4 pineapples and 5 bunches of bananas every Saturday. During the week, I would whittle away at my fresh fruit, chopping and drying, to save them for another day. When Christmas rolled around, I was ready with bags of homemade banana chips and pineapple slices for co-workers and friends. In 6 easy steps, you can make banana chips a regular part of your routine.
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Step 1: Gather Materials
Bananas aren’t fussy. Any banana will do, except for the green ones. Just wait until they are covered in speckles, and then process them.
Grab a dehydrator tray or 9. I have an Excalibur Dehydrator, which is a workhorse. It dries everything evenly and has plenty of room. Beef jerky, yogurt, fruit leather, veggies, and fruit – you name it; it does the job. The fan is a bit loud to keep it in the kitchen. My favorite place is the top of the dryer.
Being a kitchen ninja (not really), I cut my bananas with a paring knife and without a cutting board. I’ve yet to cut my thumb with this method, but you use your best judgment.
Step 2: Cut into Coins
I prefer to make a big pile in the center of the tray. Bananas slices make terrific wheels, so watch out for willful pieces that make a run for it. My trays will hold 5 large bananas each. I aim for 1/8″ thick, but when faced with 45 bananas to cut, I relax and make it a nice goal. Too thick, no problem. Too thin, no problem. Just breathe and cut.
Step 3: Spread the Coins Out
They can touch each other. In fact, when I fill a tray of fruit or veggies, I cram them on like a jigsaw puzzle. Fortunately, banana chips are round, so no higher thinking skills needed. Stretch your shoulders and breathe.
Step 4: Dry the Bananas
Raw or not? Personal choice, of course. With the Excalibur, there is a thermostat and you can set it on “Living Foods” at 105 degrees or “Fruits” at 135 degrees. If I need it ready in the morning, the higher setting will do the job. Otherwise, I set it lower.
Step 5: Collect the Coins
You know they are ready when they are stiff and not pliable. They might stick a bit to the sheet, but once the trays cool on the counter, they come off easily. I find that they pop right off if the sheet is bent back, as seen in the photo. I use my other hand to flick them off the sheet if they don’t come off on their own.
Step 6: Store Your Homemade Banana Chips
Another decision. Bag or vacuum pack. Or even better: leave on the counter for a hungry husband or housemate. I use these for school lunches, and they are lasting months in resealable plastic bags. If I am storing for long term, I like to use a vacuum Jar Sealer, like the one in the photo. It has been handy for storing my dried herbs and veggies. Dried fruit tends to get eaten too quickly for storage.
So next time you are at the store, grab an extra bunch or two of bananas and dry them when they are ripe.
That was easy. What else can you dry? I’d love to hear what your favorites are.