Banana Flour Is the Latest Gluten-Free Flour Option
With demand for gluten-free foods high and growing strong, the hunt is on for new non-wheat flours.
Alternative flours made from nuts, rice, coconuts, and tapioca are experiencing the strongest growth in a U.S. gluten-free flour market that grew by 10.8% in the last year, reaching $126 million as of May, according to SPINS (Schaumburg, IL). But banana flour, a newcomer to the U.S. market, may have what it takes to rise, brown, and bake with the best of them.
“Bananas pretty much speak for themselves in the world of nutrition,” says David Wintzer, co-creator, WEDO (Park City, UT). WEDO first began selling green banana flour last year after a successful Kickstarter launch in February 2014 and is the first U.S.-based supplier of banana flour, says Wintzer.
Widespread knowledge of banana’s nutrition may be what hooks consumer interest, but pleasant taste, formulation ease, and environmental sustainability are a few reasons why this new gluten-free flour could be here to stay.
There has to be one question that comes first with an alternative flour: how does it compare to wheat in formulations?
“Green banana flour, in high-standard form, bakes incredibly well and is a very rare gluten-free flour that can rise and remain, as it is starch-based,” says Krista Watkins operations manager at Natural Evolution Foods (Australia). Natural Evolution Foods has been selling banana flour for the past five years within Australia, and in May the company began selling to North America over the Internet.
Watkins says banana flour does differ from wheat flour with its “wholesome earthy flavor” and slightly darker coloring when cooked, and, as with many gluten-free flours, a binding agent may be necessary in certain formulations.