Food waste is completely bananas, according to a group of Master’s students in Food Technology at Lund University in Sweden. In fact, a significant amount of the 100 million tonnes of bananas produced annually worldwide is discarded before it even reaches consumers.
The Lund University students were asked to find ways of using these rejected bananas, as a part of their course work. After some brainstorming, they came up with the idea of a flour – meaning they could also use the banana peel, reducing waste further.
They experimented with a formula where they dried and milled the unpeeled bananas. Initially, the flour was too sticky since it contained too little starch. They then decided to boil the bananas first. Once the method was perfected, there was no need for any additives, meaning the flour consists of only banana.
”We set out to reduce waste, but quickly realized that the flour also has some health benefits. Banana peels contain dietary fiber, the flour is gluten-free - and because it is naturally sweet, you can lower the amount of sugar you use when you bake with it”, says Nathalie Knopp, one of the students in the group.
So far, the students have made pasta and cakes using the flour, with promising results. Cereals and pancakes are other foods they believe would be a good fit for their product.
Since bananas are made of up 80% water, you need quite a lot of them to make the flour. Also, the students only use organic bananas, as using the peel means avoiding pesticides becomes an issue. Even so, if fruit is being thrown out simply because its appearance is unappealing to shoppers, the students’ solution seems like a great alternative.
Finally… what does the flour taste like, then?
”It does have a subtle banana flavor. However, it’s very mild and pleasant, and depends on what other ingredients you combine it with”, concludes Natalie Knopp.