Freeze-drying bananas is one of the best uses for your home freeze dryer. Not only can you save bananas that are about to go bad, but you can often get brown bananas at farmer’s markets for incredibly cheap.
If stored properly, freeze-dried bananas can last decades.
Here’s what you need to know about freeze-drying bananas, plus tips about how to use them.
Instructions: How to Freeze Dry Bananas
1. Prepare the Bananas
First, peel the bananas. Then decide how you want to freeze dry them. You have two main options here:
- Slice the bananas: A diameter of ¼ to ½ inch is good. Make sure the slices are uniform in size.
- Puree the bananas: Do this if you want to make banana powder.
Some people say to cut the bananas lengthwise to freeze dry. This gives you a long piece of dried banana.
I don’t like this method, though. It’s hard to get the banana uniform in thickness, and the dried bananas will end up breaking. Go with slices instead!
2. Line the Freeze Dryer Trays
Bananas – especially overripe ones – easily get stuck to freeze dryer trays. Make sure you line the trays with parchment paper to make cleanup easier.
3. Load Up the Trays
You can usually fit about 2lbs to 2.5lbs of bananas on each freeze dryer tray. Make sure you don’t overload the freeze-dryer trays with bananas. Otherwise, you may have to defrost mid-cycle and restart it completely.
These are the maximum food per batch for Harvest Right freeze dryers:
- Small freeze dryer: 4-7lbs
- Medium freeze dryer: 7-10lbs
- Large freeze dryer: 12-16lbs
4. Pre-freeze the Bananas
This is optional, but it really speeds up the freeze-drying time. Just put the loaded freeze-dryer trays into your freezer for an hour or two.
If you can’t fit the trays in your home freezer, you’ll need to freeze the bananas on another tray and then transfer them to the freeze dryer trays.
Remember to line those trays with parchment paper to prevent sticking! You can also use silicone trays – frozen bananas won’t stick to them.
5. Turn on the Freeze Dryer
It will take approximately 24 hours to freeze dry the bananas completely. Pre-freezing will cut the time down.
6. Check the Bananas
With clean, dry hands, grab one of the banana slices with your fingers. Squeeze it firmly with your fingers. If any moisture comes out, they are not done yet. Hit the add more time button to finish drying.
Use a spoon to grab some of the dry powder for banana puree. Rub it with the back of another spoon. It should be gritty, and no moisture should come out.
7. Powder the Bananas
If you are making banana powder, put the freeze-dried bananas in a high-speed blender. A food processor also works, but not as well. Ensure everything is completely dry, or the powder will stick to your blender.
Tip: It’s impossible to get all of the powdered banana out of the blender with a spoon. Just use the blender to make a smoothie afterward.
8. Package and Store
Freeze-dried bananas (and other freeze-dried foods) will quickly absorb moisture from the air. To prevent this, you need to package and store them right away.
You can put freeze-dried banana slices into mason jars for storage. Ensure your hands are completely dry, or the slices stick to your fingers. You’ll want to use a large funnel to get the banana powder into jars.
9. Wash Trays Well
Even if you used parchment paper to line the trays, you’d still want to wash them very well. Otherwise, whatever you freeze dry next will taste and smell like banana!
How to Use Freeze-Dried Bananas
Freeze-dried bananas are great for snacking on. But you can also use them in these more exciting ways.
- Mix into cereal: I love them in oatmeal
- Dip into nut butter: This is a fantastic healthy snack.
- Cover in chocolate: For a delicious treat
- Rehydrate and use in recipes: Such as banana bread. I also use banana puree to make cakes*.
- Smoothies: Banana slices work well in smoothies if you have a high-speed blender. If your blender isn’t the best, you’ll want to use banana powder instead.
- Toppings: Small pieces of freeze-dried banana are great on top of cakes, muffins, smoothies, or other sweet treats
*Lots of vegan cake recipes call for applesauce. You can use banana puree instead. For example, I use banana puree when making this carrot cake.
Add 3 parts water to 1 part banana. Let the freeze-dried banana sit for 10-20 minutes (longer for slices; less for powder)
Dehydrated bananas have a chewy texture. Freeze-dried bananas are crunchy. They also have different shelf lives. Read more about freeze-dried vs dehydrated.
No! Banana chips are usually made by drying and then frying banana slices. They are often coated in sugar or oils. As a result, banana chips are very fatty and unhealthy. By contrast, freeze-dried bananas contain nothing but banana and are a very healthy snack.
Yes, freeze-drying can be used to save overripe bananas. However, be warned that freeze drying concentrates the flavor of food. If you use overripe bananas, the final product will be VERY sweet. For this reason, I prefer to make powder out of overripe bananas and use it for smoothies or baking.
Yes, banana peels are edible. They can be freeze-dried and eaten as a snack or blended into a powder.
If you want to freeze dry banana peels, you’ll probably want them to be organic. You’ll also need to clean the peels very well before freeze drying. Try to use peels from overripe bananas. The peels from under-ripe bananas can be a bit bitter.
No, you don’t need to treat bananas with lemon juice, apple juice, or anything else before freeze-drying. They don’t turn brown like with a dehydrator.
However, you can pretreat them if you want to. Try experimenting with different flavors, such as vanilla or orange-coated bananas.
Freeze-dried bananas will be firm and crunchy. They shouldn’t be hard but have a texture, like marshmallows.
If kept in an airtight container in your pantry, freeze-dried bananas will last approximately 1 year. Packaged in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers can last 20+ years.