In the wonderful world of healthy drinks and concoctions lies the practice of juicing fruits. Somehow, somewhere, we had a taste (or wish we had) of a clear banana beverage.
Or someone had just bragged they had a taste of it and someone else disagreed. Anything can happen.
As the banana is one of the most universally available and much-loved fruits, we pose the question to settle the dispute – Can you juice a banana – or was it just artificial flavoring?
Food for Thought
Let’s start by breaking down the two most important components of our question and define them – Banana and Juice.
A banana is considered botanically a berry that sprouts from an herbaceous flowering plant. It is very high in water content, depending on the maturity and ripeness of the fruit but this is bound in starches – thus that mushy, fibrous texture of its flesh.
They do not have vesicles in them like oranges do. Vesicles are tiny sacs of fruity water which burst open when we squeeze, juice or even bite in them.
In this case, you can count the banana to be in the same league as non-vesicular with figs and avocados. I think it’s pretty obvious already where this is going, right?
A juice is defined as liquid which is extracted from fruits or vegetables through processes of either squeezing, pressing, and the more millennial term, juicing using a special utensil or appliance.
Whatever your preferred method, the liquid is extracted directly from the fruit or vegetable in a single physical process. This definition of course, is for the juicing purists who would argue on the technicalities of the extraction process.
So, do these two components – juicing and banana – can be a match in the same sentence? It’s almost as difficult as answering whether you can freeze banana cake or not, but that’s what we’re here today for!
Can you juice bananas?
You take out your squeezer and juicer and pop in a ripe banana – does some fruit-flavored or fruit-colored liquid drip out of your home appliance? That is highly doubtful.
If you base the answer on this – technically, you cannot juice banana. Most people would say the best they can do is swirl it in a food processor or juicer and make some mushy, macerated banana flesh. Which isn’t really pleasant to drink.
Is this the end of the world and the side of “Bananas Cannot Be Juiced” in the great Banana Juice Debate are already proclaimed as winners? There’s more into the issue than simple juicing and squeezing of a fruit. Dreams of banana juice, after all, can still come true…
If you really want to produce a clear drinkable liquid extracted from a banana and you are willing to undergo several steps to achieve this, then the answer is…
YES, YOU CAN JUICE A BANANA!
This involves several steps, possibly some additives, and a pitcher full of patience. It’s up for you to decide if it’s worth going through all this trouble. We personally recommend just eating it raw or just make a smoothie instead!
There are more commercial and scientific methods to juice a banana but let’s have a look at what it takes to do it at home.
How to Juice a Banana
A banana is essentially 60-75% water, which is very important in juicing. But in the case of this fruit, water is bound by the starches in the banana, as we mentioned above.
Unlike other fruits laden with juice vesicles like the watermelons or oranges, getting juice out of the banana entails more than one step. Let’s have a look at what we are up against.
Step 1: Breaking Down the Banana’s Composition
Since the water content of a banana is bound in the fruit’s starch, mission number one is to separate the starch and liquid. There are two ways this can be accomplished.
If you’re ready to engage in a scientific experiment-like activity, then some of this fermentation powder is in order. Amylase is a naturally occurring enzyme which facilitates the breaking down of the banana starches into sugars resulting with a liquid by-product.
This powder is simply sprinkled and mixed into your mashed ripe banana pulp to speed up the ripening process so it becomes like the very sweet overripe bananas that we make into banana cake.
In fact, when you check out your over-ripened banana bunch, you will notice a sticky liquid – that is what we are aiming to produce. But, of course, we cannot just leave the fruit to rot so we can take out juice! That would be unhealthy.
The raw amylase will gradually transform the banana pulp, converting the starches into sugars and produces the “banana nectar” without needing to wait for your fruit to become overripe.
- Boil those bananas
Amylase may not be readily available in many areas. Or you may simply be wondering why you should get a 5 lb. pack of amylase to get a glass of banana juice.
Is there anything else we can do? Yes! Home chefs can simply peel whole bananas and cook them on the lowest setting of your smallest burner for approximately 5 hours. This does the same action as amylase in breaking down starches.
Hmmm. Suddenly it seems that it’s faster to gulp the bananas than coax the juice out of them. Nonetheless, as you cook them on the stovetop, the bananas will turn extremely soft and the juice will start to seep out. While waiting for it to do so, you can always do other house chores. Just be careful and don’t let the bananas burn!
After doing either step, let the bananas cool down and rest then pop them in the freezer overnight.
Step 2: The Sieve Step
After having some liquid from the bananas, you can run the pulp on a sieve and press to ensure that whatever liquid that has been produced is extracted. You might find the yield not as much as you envisioned, but voila! You have successfully extracted juice from a banana.
Commercial outfits and professional chefs or more technically-finicky people will say that the banana pulp need to go through centrifugation to extract more banana juice before sifting.
So, if you happen to have a centrifuge or centrifugal juicer, you can run the broken-down banana pulp here before sifting the solids away. Another optional step is to add pectinase to clarify the liquid.
If you do not have sieves at home, use triple-layered cheesecloth and squeeze the liquid out manually.
But at this point, in all honesty, you probably already got over your desire to drink some banana juice. Even more, you will notice that the taste is not as good as you might expect it to be. And so much trouble for getting a few sips!
Mind Your Bananas!
Not all bananas are equal – meaning there are varieties of banana that you would be hard-pressed to oppress for juice. There are more than 1,000 types of bananas spread over 150 countries.
The best options are what many call “table or dessert bananas” found in your local grocery or farmers’ market. They are the sweet and soft varieties like the popular Cavendish, lady’s finger bananas and some kinds of red bananas.
Cooking bananas like Musa Belles, Apple Bananas and Plantains (which many consider belonging to the umbrella od bananas) may render some juice but you must use the heating method to effectively extract anything since they are firm and chalky when raw. They also do not ripen the same way as table bananas.
Not Just Juice
Our reliable banana, is of course, not just for juice. So, whatever your reason for wanting to make juice out of a banana – proving yourself right in an argument or just satisfying a craving for real unadulterated banana juice, you now know that it can be done.
But is it worth going through all the trouble to get it done? Probably not!
While it can be time consuming and entail much effort, we can always enjoy our pulped bananas, mashed then mixed into orange juice, as a smoothie or pureed into a lovely shake.
This is much faster, allows you to keep that amazing banana taste intact and provides you with all the nutrients it has to offer. So if you really don’t want to just eat your banana, going the smoothie way is recommended instead of trying to turn it into juice.
No matter how you enjoy bananas and how much effort you are willing to undergo to get what you want out of this beloved fruit, the yummy banana never fails to make your snack, meal, or drink a stellar one.