10 Uses Of Banana Trees
Bananas are produced in tall plants, which are often mistaken as trees. They actually have pseudo stems formed from leaf sheaths. Apart from producing sweet fruits, the plants have many different uses. In fact, almost all the parts of a banana plant are useful. In America, I have seen mostly the soft and sweet bananas that usually have brown spots on them when they ripe. But in South India, there are many different varieties of bananas you can find, including those with red skin.
Whatever the variety of the fruit, all the parts of a banana plant have some use. Here you can read about 10 uses of banana plants.
1. Edible Sweet Bananas
Of course, the first use is definitely the sweet and healthy fruits from the plants, which you can eat raw as a delicious dessert, or use to cook or bake. The addition of bananas in cakes and desserts give them a rich, moist texture and add the natural sweetness, thus reducing the need for additional, artificial white sugar.
Bananas are rich in potassium, thus including them daily in your diet can help you control your blood pressure naturally.
Below you can see gluten free and healthy banana flour made from dried bananas, available to buy from Amazon. The flour is made from green bananas, so it is grain free and so it is paleo diet friendly too.
In India, homemade banana flour is usually used to prepare baby food.
You can try using banana flour as a replacement in many baking recipes, if you are allergic to gluten. Gluten free pancakes, cakes and muffins can be made from banana flour, which is also rich in potassium and other vitamins and minerals.
Available To Buy From Amazon - Gluten Free Grain Free Green Banana Flour
2. Edible Banana Fruit Peels
Banana peels are edible. Most of us may not like the idea of eating them, but they are a great, natural and healthy food loved by cows. You can feed the cattle with the banana peels, or you can use them as a natural fertilizer in your garden. The nutrients in the peel enrich the soil, making it more fertile and suitable for the growth of plants.
And you can use the peels for cooking too, as they are tasty and healthy.
Please note that we do not usually use the peels of ripe bananas for cooking, but we often use the green peels of bananas that are about to ripe soon.
If you ever use plantains, a variety of cooking bananas, save the peels for a stir fry. The edible peels of raw plantains are the most perfect to be used in a stir fry. Just don't overcook the peels, but sauté them in the pan for a few minutes along with salt and your favourite spices, and you have got a healthy, nutrient rich and tasty side dish for lunch! This is a popular dish in many parts of South India.
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3. Edible Stem
Banana plant stems are edible, healthy and rich in fibres. Drinking juice made of banana plant stems are thought to control the blood sugar levels, and so it is great for those who have diabetes. But you don't have to cut your banana plant for that. Many of the plants naturally fall off after a while, mainly as a result of rain and winds. In that case, you don't have to throw away the stem, but use them for food.
If you don't like the idea of juicing the stems of banana plants, here is another traditional recipe. Remove the outer skins, so you get the white stem inside. Cut them into round slices, remove the fibres that project out. Chop the slices very finely, mix with grated coconut and stir fry along with turmeric and salt. This dish is full of fibres and it is so healthy for anyone who eats them. The only thing you may find difficult is the process of removing the extra fibres from the slices. But once that is done, cooking is really easy and the addition of grated coconut makes the recipe really tasty.
Below you can see an image of the edible, white fleshy part of the banana stem. The picture is from Wikimedia Commons image.
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4. Stem Fibres As Natural Craft Materials
The fibres from the outer skin of the banana stems can be used as natural threads. You don't have to cut the stem for that. Simply pinch the outer skin of the stem and you will be able to pull it around like a silky thread. It can be used to tie flower garlands or lei, most popularly used for making jasmine garlands by flower vendors. The threads are also useful in crafts, like basket making and more.
5. Banana Plant Fibres To Make Garments
The fine threads from the banana stems can also be used to make clothes. The threads are usually blended with cotton to make beautiful and smooth fabrics suitable to make garments.
6. Banana Leaves Can Be Used As Natural Leaf Platters
Banana leaves are large and long enough to serve a full meal with lots of of dishes. If you have four or five banana plants in your garden, you can get plenty of banana leaves.
Traditionally, banana leaves were used to serve food in South India, especially for serving feasts known as sadya in marriages and other celebrations. When feasts are arranged for so many guests where there is a need to purchase so many banana leaf platters, there are local vendors in South India who sell fresh banana leaves, which we can buy and use for serving food. They can be easily disposed after the lunch or dinner, and since they are natural plant leaves they are eco friendly too. By cutting leaves from the plants, you do not harm their growth, and you help the planet by using biodegradable leaf platters.
And most importantly, they look fresh, green and beautiful in the table.
On one side of the leaf, usually the main dish or rice is served. And on the other side, so many side dishes can be served. This way, you can serve so many dishes for the feast in the same leaf, without messing them in any way!
7. Steamed Banana Leaves For Packing Lunch
Banana leaves can be steamed and used for packing lunch, especially dry food items like cooked rice. It was once very common among children to pack lunches in steamed banana leaves, which actually adds a nice flavour to the food.
Fine threads from the banana stems itself were used to tie the packed lunch in banana leaf.
Holding the leaf near to the flames will make it really soft and foldable in seconds.
8. Steamed Banana Leaves To Make Wrapped Desserts
As I mentioned earlier, when banana leaves are shown near to flames they will become soft, smooth and foldable. To make some traditional desserts, the dough is put inside small pieces of steamed banana leaves, then folded and steamed again using a steamer to prepare the dessert.
9. Edible Banana Flowers
Banana flowers are healthy and edible. Just like the stem, they have so much fibres in them, some of which you will have to remove. When you use the flowers for cooking, don't use the small little yellow flowers that you see inside, just use the large brown purple coloured layers that you see.
Try to chop the purple part so finely, the extra fibres will come out, which you can remove by hand. With practice, this should be pretty easy to do.
You can stir fry the chopped flowers with grated coconut and spices, just like you can do with the stem.
Banana flowers are rich in fibres and antioxidants and including them in your diet can be so healthy for you.
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10. Banana Plant Rhizomes - Medicinal Uses And Means Of Propagation
Banana plant roots are rhizomes that have many medicinal uses and they are traditionally used in many medicines in Ayurveda. Other than that, obviously, the most important use of the rhizomes is to propagate the plants.
New banana plants naturally grow from the roots of older plants. You can either leave them like that, or if too crowded, you can dig them out and plant them separately.
Note: While handling banana flowers, stem or even the unripe green bananas, the sap from the plant may stick to your hand skin. To avoid this, you can use gloves while cutting them. Otherwise you can easily remove the sap from your hand by rubbing with a little coconut oil and then washing with mild soap and water.
If you want to share any other uses of banana plants, feel free to share them in the comment section!
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