Researchers find new use for banana peels in flour for sugar cookies

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A new study explored the nutritional and antioxidant properties in sugar cookies baked with flour made from banana peels.  

The research was published in the journal, ACS Food Science & Technology, and was conducted by scientists at Aligarh Muslim University, in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India and the University of Houston. The study expanded on previous reports that found grinding banana peels can create a flour that is rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidant compounds.

Banana peel flour has already been used in breads and cakes, but Faizan Ahmad, a PhD student in chemical engineering at Aligarh Muslim University, and his colleagues wanted to try the banana peel flour in sugar cookies to assess nutritional quality, shelf-stability, and consumer acceptance.

To make banana peel flour, the researchers peeled ripe, undamaged bananas and then blanched, dried, and ground the skins into a fine powder. They mixed together different amounts of the powder with butter, skim milk powder, powdered sugar, vegetable oil, and wheat flour, creating five batches of sugar cookies. Those batches were then baked.

Cookies were prepared by substituting 7.5, 10, 12.5, and 15 percent of superfine wheat flour with banana peel flour compared to control samples without any banana peel flour. Increasing the amount of the banana peel flour from 0 to 15 percent in the batches produced browner and harder products, which could be a result of the increased fiber content from the peels. In addition, the researchers found that the cookies with banana peel flour were more healthful, contained less fat and protein, higher amounts of phenols and better antioxidant activities than the more conventional cookies.

It was also determined that the sugar cookies with the smallest substitution of banana peel flour (7.5 percent) had the best texture and highest overall acceptability compared to the other batches. This batch also kept well for three months at room temperature — it tasted the same as the wheat-only versions after this storage period.

Since cookies can be enriched with some banana peel flour without impacting their consumer acceptance, the researchers said this addition could make these baked goods more nutritious.