We tested out this secret ingredient in our Healthy Banana Bread recipe and couldn't believe how delicious it turned out.
Banana-Bread next to a banana peel
Credit: Getty images / mm88 / Claudia Totir

To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of bananas. It's kind of weird, because I really do enjoy a slice of moist banana-chocolate chip bread. But my husband eats bananas and since I usually buy a large bunch when I shop at Costco, we have leftovers to make treats like banana bread, banana cake and banana "nice cream." 

I've historically peeled bananas prior to freezing. That's a quick process if I'm just peeling, cutting up and freezing a couple. But if I want to put a big batch in the freezer, it can be a pretty big time suck. And forget about trying to peel frozen bananas! That's just a thankless task—and a recipe for frozen fingers. 

So I was a little surprised when I came across a blog post from Zingerman's Bakehouse that discloses they've been including the whole banana—peel and all!—in their banana bread for years.

The recipe included in the blog post instructs you to freeze bananas once the skin is mottled with black spots, then thaw and puree them—peel and all—before mixing them into the batter. I reached out to Amy Emberling, managing partner of Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to ask why.

"From my professional baker's perspective, the freezing process breaks down the peel and the banana more than room-temperature ripening," Emberling said in an email. "The peel becomes thin, black and easier to puree. The meat of the banana gives off its moisture and becomes softer and darker. The entire banana purees more smoothly and then can be evenly distributed in the batter." 

I had to try it myself! I froze the bananas, thawed them until they were softened (the banana itself kind of felt liquidy inside the skin), then pureed them in a blender for a batch of Healthy Banana Bread—and it worked like a charm! 

And Emberling was right—the thawed bananas pureed up like a dream. I even kept the stem on, just trimming the woody end of it (along with the tough blossom end). I was surprised to find how smooth the banana puree with the peel was—no chunks to be found! 

Freezing bananas for smoothies instead of baking? You can leave the peel on for that too. If you typically just use half a banana in a smoothie, I suggest cutting them in half before you pop them in the freezer. And, for smoothies, no need to thaw the bananas before using.

So there you have it! Next time you find yourself with overripe bananas destined for the freezer, skip the peeling step.