Recipe: Banana Leather (Flattened Dried Bananas)
While researching our future hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, I kept reading about these flattened dried bananas from Trader Joe’s. Since we aren’t Americans, I couldn’t just go pick some up to try. However, the concept seemed simple enough, and apparently they are delicious, so I did a bit of poking around online and decided to take a crack at making my own.
First, start with fairly ripe bananas, as they are the easiest to flatten and also taste the sweetest. I did mine when they were fairly spotted but not too far gone in ripening. One was a bit over-ripe but it was ok. You just can’t be too vigorous when smushing them.
Peel the bananas and slice them in half length-wise. I found doing a whole banana made pieces way too large. I put the halves on parchment paper (dehydrator tray liners would be fine) and then covered them with a second piece of parchment. Waxed paper would be better I think. Plastic wrap would also work.
Then I used the bottom of a small sauce pan to flatten them out. The more broad the surface of your smashing tool, the better. A meat mallet will just break the banana into pieces. You could also try a rolling pin. Make the banana thin but not too thin, 1/4 of an inch or a little less is about right. Thicker pieces will result in a more fruit-leather like end product. If you make it thin it actually gets a bit crunchy, which I prefer.
Peel off the top layer of paper and then pop these onto your dehydrator. I dried mine at around 140° and checked them after 4-6 hours. Honestly it’s a bit of trial and error. When the top is dry to the touch, peel it carefully off the paper and flip it over. Let it dry some more, checking it every couple of hours, until it has reached the doneness you like. Just remember that leaving more moisture in the fruit will seriously shorten the shelf life.
These turned out AMAZINGLY sweet and addictive. It’s basically banana jerky, and if you’re not careful you can easily eat half a dozen bananas in one sitting. These are also nice torn into small bits and mixed with oatmeal or other morning grains.