Uses for Banana Leaves

Written by toby welch
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Uses for Banana Leaves
Banana leaves are multipurpose. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Before you toss out banana leaves, take a moment and consider the ways they can be used. They are used in many types of cooking, usually as a cooking vessel. They are handy for decorations and in crafts. If sold in your area, banana leaves are relatively inexpensive and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a couple months. Wrap them tightly in cling film or secure them in a plastic bag for maximum freshness.

Banana Leaves in Cooking

The most common use for banana leaves is as a wrapper when cooking. Food items, often meat, chicken, fish and other types of seafood, are wrapped in the leaves and cooked in the oven. Sauce can be included with the meat but keep in mind that the leaves, no matter how well wrapped, aren't leak proof so put the leaf-wrapped food in a baking dish. The food can be cooked in the oven or in a steamer. If the leaf won't stay closed, put the seam side down or use a toothpick to secure it shut.

Uses for Banana Leaves
Banana leaves come in various sizes and can be trimmed to meet your needs. (David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Banana Leaves on the Barbecue

Banana leaves are also handy to use when barbecuing. Just as when cooking food in the oven, make sure the fold is tight so nothing gets lost on the grill. Another option is to use the banana leaf as a mat on the grill and cook food directly on top of it. Use the leaf as you would use a piece of tin foil. The banana leaf turns brown as it heats up but don't worry about it tainting your food; it merely adds a soft, smoky flavour.

Banana Leaves for Serving

Banana leaves can easily be incorporated when serving meals. If you cooked the food wrapped in a banana leaf, serve it that way and the leaf can be unwrapped at the table and left on the plate. Or you can lay a leaf or two on the bottom of the plate and place the food on top, using the leaf for a decoration. Another option is to form the leaf into a bowl with the use of twine, staples or toothpicks and serve food inside the bowl. As with cooking with food wrapped in leaves, remember the bowl will not be leak proof.

Using Banana Leaves in Crafts

For centuries, banana leaves have been used in crafts. Once they are completely dried -- usually by hanging in the sunshine -- the leaves can be used to make place mats, greeting cards, book bindings, baskets, as decorations in centrepieces, trays and numerous other arts and crafts. You can also make holiday ornaments by wrapping dried banana leaves around styrofoam balls.

Uses for Banana Leaves
Banana leaves can be made into umbrellas. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

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