How to peel a banana

I think we’ve all had the frustrating experience of struggling to open a banana in which the peel won’t split near the stem, which obnoxiously manages to be the strongest part of the fruit — so you pull out a knife to get it started, or just end up mashing the top of the banana in your attempt to get it open. And yet somehow it never occurred to to me to try peeling it… from the other end!

Known as the “monkey method” of peeling a banana, this approach is trivially easy to achieve. You simply pinch or twist at the bottom end of the banana, and it obligingly splits open. I’m astonished that it never even occurred to me to explore better ways to do this. Wow! (Thanks for the tip, Evan!)

Standard Monkey

Beyond that, there are apparently many strategies for peeling a banana that differ from the “standard” (and apparently suboptimal) approach. I’ve already employed the “thumbnail method” in the past, when a knife was lacking and I was still ineffectually wrangling with the stem end. Now I’m eager to try the “throwing method.” And do read to the bottom of that link to learn about the “pro method.”

3 of 3 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Tyestin said,

    December 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Huh. Just tried the upside-down method and failed. Merely managed to smush the end.

    On the other hand, I’ve never had any trouble opening bananas from the stem end, so… *shrug*

    One thing I have noticed with bananas is that those with no obvious blemishes on the outside seem more like to be bruised on the inside than those with brown dents/impact points. Damaged bananas are quite often perfect inside the skin. It may just be observation bias though, so I think I’ll start keeping a banana log of all those I eat, recording which have internal bruises and which don’t.

  2. Kiri said,

    December 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I read some more elsewhere about an alternative “monkey” method in which you press directly on the black “button” at the non-stem end, which apparently has a pocket of air under it, and this will quickly split the peel for you. I want to try this one too and see if it works better! Next banana, next banana.

  3. Terran said,

    December 5, 2010 at 8:29 am

    (Learned something new!)

    Nifty! I had seen some of these methods, and have used a couple of them myself. But hadn’t seen the “monkey method”.

    One party trick from my youth is that you can use a needle and thread to slice the banana before peeling it. You can basically construct a loop around the banana fruit by running the needle through each of the sides, so that the thread lies just under the skin. When you pull the loop through, it slices through the banana. If you do it right, you don’t leave much mark on the outside. So you can have a seemingly untouched banana that mysteriously falls into neatly cut segments when you peel it. ;-)

  4. Kiri said,

    December 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    What a cool trick, Terran! I want to try that, too :)

  5. Tyestin said,

    December 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

    So far out of 11 bananas, 4 have been damaged on the outside, 7 undamaged. Of those, 4 of the 7 undamaged were bruised under the skin, while 1 of the 4 damaged bananas was.

    Matches my previous casual observations, but certainly not enough data yet to come to a conclusion.

  6. Kiri said,

    December 28, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    As an update, I find that pressing on the end of the banana to pop it open definitely does work, with less effort and mess than working from the stem end. Now I just need to remember it — the stem-side habit has a lot of inertia if I’m not paying attention!

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