I love bananas, but it seems that every time I buy a bunch they turn brown before they’re eaten—what a waste of food and money! Check out these five ways to use overripe bananas (ripe, yellow bananas will work too) around the house, garden and kitchen:
- Shoe Polish: If your dress shoes are looking a little scuffed, buff them using a banana peal. Banana peels contain oil and potassium—two of the main ingredients in shoe polish. But unlike store-bought shoe polish, a banana peal is cheap, non-toxic, and biodegradable. Place your palm against the peel and rub it all over the exterior of a leather shoe. Use a clean, soft cloth to remove any excess oil, banana pieces, and those stringy things (FYI: in case you’re ever a contestant on Jeopardy, the technical name for the stringy things inside bananas is phloem bundles.)
- House Plant Fertilizer: Put a banana peel in 12 ounces of water to make “banana juice.” Add one part “banana juice” and five parts water to your watering can. Use this solution to water your houseplants as normal. The banana-fortified solution contains phosphorous and other beneficial compounds.
- Rosebush Fertilizer: Add banana peels to the soil around a rosebush soil as non-toxic fertilizer. The peels, just like store-bought garden fertilizer, contain potash and phosphorous to nourish your delicate flowers. To make fertilizer, finely chop the peels and then spread the pieces around the base of the rosebush. Sprinkle some dirt on top to promote decomposition. Water.
- Smoothie Base: When making smoothies, have you ever added crushed ice to the blender only to end up with a watery, diluted smoothie? That’s because the ice melts during blending process. For a creamy, non-diluted smoothie, use slices of frozen, overripe banana instead of ice. Cut your peeled banana into bite-sized slices. Lay out the slices on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze them for 40 minutes. When the slices are frozen, place them in a freezer bag for storage. This method prevents the slices from sticking and also allows for single portions.
- Baked Goods: Overripe bananas taste as good as ever in baked goods. Mash the peeled bananas with a fork and transfer to freezer bags. Label with the number of mushed bananas. To use, defrost and use as you would regular banana. I’m partial to the following simple, scrumptious recipe:
Simple Banana Bread
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Oven Time: 1 hour
- 4 frozen, overripe bananas, mashed (or 4 ripe bananas, mashed)
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Then mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour and mix. Pour the mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove bread from pan and slice to serve.