Dehydrating bananas is easy – slice them crosswise into ⅛ inch thick pieces.
How long does it take to dehydrate bananas in a food dehydrator? It takes six to ten hours. Dehydrate bananas at 135°F (57°C).
After a few more points about how to dehydrate bananas, this page shares several banana pudding recipes you can whip up on the trail in minutes using dried bananas or banana fruit leather.
Can you dehydrate overripe bananas? Yes, but you’re better off drying bananas that are just right; not too green and not too soft/overripe. When the skins are all yellow with a few brown spots on them, that’s the perfect time to dry bananas. Green bananas lack sweetness. Dehydrating bananas that are overripe will take longer, and they can be overly sticky. If you absolutely want to dehydrate overripe bananas, you're better off blending them with other fruits and drying them into banana fruit leather. More on that further down the page.
Photo above: Five medium bananas on an Excalibur dehydrator tray.
To estimate how many pounds of bananas to purchase for drying in an Excalibur dehydrator, figure on one pound, thirteen ounces per tray (831 grams). To fill five trays, buy nine pounds, two ounces (4155 grams). To fill nine trays, buy sixteen pounds, eight ounces (7479 grams). One of the big reasons I use Excalibur dehydrators is because they have more drying capacity per tray compared to donut-shaped Nesco dehydrator trays.
Yield: After peeling, the five bananas shown sliced in the photo above weighed 511 grams. Dehydrating bananas removes approximately 72% of the original weight. After drying the five bananas for six hours, they weighed 143 grams and filled two cups.
Dried bananas are chip-like, but still pliable. They bend rather than snap in half. There is a little stickiness, but no moisture comes out if you squeeze a slice.
Can you over dry bananas? Once you get to the stage where bananas are 28% of their starting weight, any additional time in the dehydrator will yield miniscule additional water evaporation. The dried bananas might get a little harder, but you can still enjoy them, even if you over dry them by an hour or two.
Photo above: Popping dried bananas off a flexible Excalibur dehydrator mesh sheet.
How do you keep bananas from sticking when dehydrated? Dry bananas directly on mesh sheets, otherwise they will take much longer to dry. They will stick to the mesh sheets a little; more so if the bananas were overripe. To remove them, flex the mesh sheet, pushing with your fingers from the underside while plucking off the bananas from the front.
Enjoy dried bananas “as is,” or combine them with other dried fruits in trail mixes. You can also make fruit cocktail by combining one cup of dried fruit with one or two cups of cold water.
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Another way of dehydrating bananas is to blend them to a smoothie like consistency and spread them thinly (⅛-inch thick) on trays covered with nonstick sheets. One cup of blended fruit is the perfect amount to spread on one Excalibur tray to ensure even drying.
Bananas, when blended with no other fruits, may dry snappy – more like bark than pliable leather. Snappy banana bark is still very tasty. Another option is to blend bananas with other fruits or berries. Strawberries go great with bananas, as do pineapples.
Photo above: 500 grams of pineapple and bananas before blending and dehydrating into fruit leather.
Servings: 2 (2 Excalibur trays)
Cut fruit into pieces and blend until smooth. Spread thinly on dehydrator trays covered with nonstick sheets. If using an Excalibur dehydrator, this quantity amounts to one cup per tray on two trays.
Photo above: One cup of blended banana and pineapple spread thinly on Excalibur dehydrator tray covered with a Paraflexx nonstick sheet.
Dehydrate Banana-Pineapple Fruit Leather at 135°F (57°C) for eight to ten hours. When fruit leather is mostly dry with no wet spots, flip the leather over and peel away the nonstick sheet. Continue drying directly on mesh sheets for one more hour until dry, but still leathery.
Yield: Two servings of ¾ cup leather each, (46 grams each).
Photo above: Peel the nonstick sheet away from the fruit leather after flipping it over. Ensures complete drying.
Photo above: A smart way to pack fruit leather, so it doesn’t stick to itself, is to fold it up in baking paper. Strawberry fruit leather shown.
Enjoy banana fruit leather “as is,” or turn it into healthy fruit pudding with hot or cold water.
Combine fruit leather and cold water. Stir until fruit leather is completely dissolved. Ready in minutes. It has a consistency like applesauce.
Photo above: Banana Split Pudding takes Banana-Pineapple Pudding to the next level with chocolate shavings added.
Combine fruit leather, plus any dried fruit pieces, with cold water. Stir until fruit leather is completely dissolved. Ready in minutes. Garnish with chocolate pieces.
Gently heat dried banana slices in half-cup water. Stir to desired pudding consistency. Dried banana slices disintegrate in minutes in hot water. Top with chocolate and nut pieces.
The secret ingredient in Banana Nut Bread Pudding is breadcrumbs. Use dried breadcrumbs in pieces, not finely ground. Breadcrumbs absorb the sweet juice created when you gently cook banana slices and sugar in water.
I know it looks like mush in the photo, but trust me; you'll like it.
Combine dried bananas and sugar with water in pot. Heat for ten minutes over low flame. No need to boil – you just want the bananas to soften and warm up. Stir in breadcrumbs and nuts. The breadcrumbs will absorb the sweet juices and the bananas will break down into a pudding texture.
Crunchy graham crackers, warm melt-in-your-mouth banana slices, and vanilla pudding will make you feel like a kid getting special treatment in Grandma’s kitchen. It will take you back.
Pack each ingredient into a separate small plastic bag. I use 2 x 3 craft bags for the milk and pudding powders and 3 x 5 craft bags for the grahams and bananas. Enclose all bags in a larger zip lock bag to stay organized.
On the Trail:
Combine dried bananas with half-cup of water in a pot. Heat for ten minutes over low flame. No need to boil – you just want the bananas to soften and warm up.
Combine powdered milk with half-cup of cold water in a separate cup and stir until mixed. Add instant pudding mix and stir briskly until smooth.
Pudding will set in about five minutes.
Spoon out warm bananas over pudding. Top with crumbled graham crackers or nilla wafer cookies. Drizzle remaining banana juices on top.
You'll find instructions for dehydrating bananas and recipes using dried bananas in Chef Glenn's books.
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