If you have an abundance of bananas, drying is an effective way to preserve the fruit with very little loss of nutrients. Drying bananas in your oven, a solar dryer or a food dehydrator is fast and simple method, but if you live in a dry climate where temperatures are at least 86 F, sun-drying bananas outdoors is a good option. Bananas are low in calories and rich in nutrients, providing fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Make an outdoor drying screen. Create a simple frame by connecting wooden slats into a rectangular shape and stapling or tacking screening to the frame. Use food-safe screening made of fiberglass with a nonstick coating, plastic mesh or stainless steel.
Raise the drying screen at least 4 to 6 inches to allow air circulation. Anything that raises the screen is fine, such as wooden or concrete blocks.
Select bananas that are firm, ripe and yellow in color. Avoid brown, overripe bananas, although a few brown speckles are fine.
Slice the bananas into coin shapes measuring 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch in diameter. You can also cut bananas into sticks. Slice each banana in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into two equal halves. Make the sticks about half the length of the banana.
Dip the bananas into a bowl of fruit juice that is high in vitamin C, such as orange, grape, lemon, pineapple or cranberry. The juice adds extra flavor to the bananas and the ascorbic acid prevents the fruit from turning brown. If you prefer not to use fruit juice, you can use a commercial ascorbic-acid fruit protector found in powdered form in most supermarkets. Mix the fruit protector according to the directions on the label.
Arrange the bananas in a single layer on the drying screen. Cover the racks with cheesecloth or netting to protect the bananas from birds and insects.
Place the racks in a sunny spot. A concrete driveway or sidewalk works well, as the concrete reflects the heat and increases the temperature.
Allow the bananas to dry until the chips are crispy. Turn the bananas over after two days, or about halfway through the drying time. Drying may take up to six days, depending on the air temperature, humidity and thickness of the slices.
Store the dried bananas in an airtight container or resealable plastic bags. Crisp, dried bananas keep for several months.
Things You'll Need
Staples or tacks
Wood or concrete blocks
Sour fruit juice or ascorbic acid fruit protector
Cheesecloth or netting
Airtight containers or resealable plastic bags
Screening tacked on old an window frame makes a good drying rack.
Avoid hardware cloth screening, which is made from galvanized metal that may leave harmful chemical residue on the bananas. Don't use aluminum screening, which eventually corrodes.