Would You Drink Banana Juice?

March 31, 2014

Efforts to extract banana juice are improving.

So many fruits are enjoyed as juices, but rarely bananas. The pectin content of these fruits makes extraction of their juices especially difficult. Even with this challenge, though, efforts to extract banana juice have not let up, and researchers from Cameroon and India now claim they have identified optimal conditions for banana juice extraction.

Banana juice has been a scientific endeavor for years. Previous studies were based mainly on drying bananas-but also on puréeing them-and researchers had success when using hot water extraction, commercial enzymes to clarify the juice, and a fine mesh to separate liquid from pulp. But Sorel Tchewonpi Sagu from the University of Ngaoundere in Cameroon, and three colleagues, are concerned that the heating requirements established in previous studies are unnecessarily intense.

Before Sagu’s team came along, the most recent declaration for optimal juice production was a hot water extraction at 95°C (203°F) for 120 minutes. Since then, researchers have found that as temperature increases on banana juice, so does the loss of nutrients. Hoping to find sufficient (yet less intensive) extraction conditions, Sagu and his team treated banana pieces to hot water extraction at a range of temperatures (35–95°C) and times (30–120°min). His team found optimum conditions for hot water extraction of banana juice to be just 33°C for 108 minutes with an enzyme concentration of 0.03% v/w.

Sagu and his colleagues say there is good reason for companies to manufacture banana juice because the product is naturally high in potassium (among other nutrients) and would repurpose the “considerable amount of this fruit (that) is wasted due to inadequate processing and preservation techniques.”

Presumably, multiple species of banana are suitable for making banana juice. The bananas used in this study were ripe Musa acuminate, also known as Dwarf Cavendish bananas, with green skin. In the United States alone, an estimated 4.35 million tons of bananas were imported in 2012. Just think how much juice that could have made.

 

Robby Gardner

Associate Editor

Nutritional Outlook magazine

robby.gardner@ubm.com