10 Surprising Uses for Leftover Bananas

iStock
iStock

Bananas are practically the perfect fruit. They’re high in potassium and vitamins. They don’t need to be washed or sliced. They make a great healthy snack, but you can also put them in bread, ice cream, pie, and pancakes. What’s not to love?

Well, there’s one tiny problem—they go bad quickly. Bananas produce a large amount of a gas called ethylene, which causes fruit to ripen faster, meaning that there's a small window to enjoy them. Just because a bunch of bananas is past its prime doesn’t mean they can’t be used, though. Here are a few of the things you can do with ripe bananas.

1. TREAT BUG BITES.

Pressing the inside of a banana peel onto a bite from a mosquito or other insect for a few minutes is a surprisingly simple way to quell itching. In fact, some studies have shown that banana peels can help reduce irritation and inflammation [PDF, PDF]. The use of banana peels to treat inflammation is said to be an ancient Chinese remedy, but people around the world swear (with varying degrees of evidence) by the fruit’s ability to soothe poison ivy rashes, psoriasis, sunburn, and other skin maladies.

2. REMOVE A SPLINTER.

If tweezers aren’t getting that pesky splinter out, try a banana peel instead. Tape a piece of the peel onto the affected area (with the soft, inner side of the peel facing down) and leave it in place for about 10 minutes. The enzymes in the fruit should help to force the splinter out.

3. ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES AND HUMMINGBIRDS.

Once a common sight in the U.S., monarch butterflies are now difficult to spot. Their population has dwindled due to loss of habitat, but you can improve your chances of seeing them by placing an overripe banana out in your garden. They’re just soft and sweet enough for butterflies to enjoy (make sure to remove the bananas before you go to bed, though, or else you'll have animals like raccoons in your garden). You can also place bananas near a hummingbird feeder to attract fruit flies, which the birds feast on.

4. FERTILIZE PLANTS.

While you’re out in the garden feeding the birds and butterflies, give your plants some love, too. When cut-up banana peels are buried, they enrich the soil with nutrients and help nourish plants. You can also wrap a banana peel around a tomato plant to create a natural fertilizer.

5. POLISH LEATHER AND SILVER.

If you’re in need of a quick shoe shine, reach for the fruit bowl. The potassium in bananas make them a great, quick tool for polishing your leather. Simply buff the leather with the inside of a banana peel, and use a cloth to wipe it clean. The same technique can also be used to polish silver (though some recommend blending the banana peels into a paste and putting that on a cloth for polishing).

6. MAKE SMOOTHIES, SANS ICE.

Bananas have long been a staple in smoothies, but what if you have a whole bunch that’s about to go bad? Instead of throwing them out, stick them in the freezer. You can pull one out any time you get a smoothie craving, and since it’s frozen, you won’t even need to add ice.

7. MAKE NATURAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS.

Beauty products don’t have to be expensive. Bananas are a great ingredient in DIY hair treatments and skin exfoliants. The amino and citric acids help protect hair from damage and keep it shiny. There are a few different recipes you can try, some of which combine banana with avocado, yogurt, egg, and other ingredients. Rubbing the inside of a banana peel onto your face (seriously, try it) is also said to brighten your skin, fight acne, and reduce puffiness around your eyes.

8. PREVENT INFLAMED MUSCLES.

A recent study published in the journal PLOS One found that competitive cyclists who had consumed a banana instead of a sugary drink or water had less inflammation following their workout. Although other physicians cite the benefits of consuming bananas post-workout, the sample for this particular study was small—only 20 cyclists—and was funded by Dole Foods (although they had no role in any part of the study), so you might not want to swap out ibuprofen for bananas just yet—especially since the lead author told The New York Times that the banana led to “quite a bit of bloating,” so maybe best to not experiment on race day.

9. REPAIR A SCRATCHED DVD.

CDs and DVDs may be a dying technology, but many people still have a few lying around at home. If you have any discs that are scratched, you can try using toothpaste and banana to salvage them. First, rub toothpaste into the scratches with a cloth. Wipe it off, then rub a piece of banana onto the disc in a circular motion. Do the same thing with the banana peel and clean the disc with window cleaner. Whether or not this trick works will depend on how badly the disc is scratched, but it’s worth a shot!

10. TRY OUT SOME NEW RECIPES.

If a bunch of bananas is too ripe for your liking, try repurposing the fruit. There are hundreds of recipes that call for overripe bananas. The Food Network's Canadian site lists 83 recipes on its website, including chocolate chip banana pancakes, a peanut butter and banana oatmeal smoothie, and slow cooker banana upside down cake.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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12 Smart Products That Will Help Organize Your Life

Simple Trending Store/Amazon
Simple Trending Store/Amazon

For some people, getting—and staying—organized is nearly impossible to do without a little help. (We’re talking from experience here.) To help you store your pots and pans without a fuss and keep your toiletries from taking over your bathroom, we’ve scoured the internet for products that are designed to make staying organized that much easier.

1. Revolving Spice Rack, $37

Kamenstein

This 20-jar revolving spice rack from Kamenstein will keep all of your favorite spices organized, labeled, and, most importantly, within easy access for your culinary endeavors. Even better? It comes with all 20 spices, including rosemary, basil, and pretty anything else you can imagine. (Pizza seasoning? Yes, please.) Bonus: Customers are eligible to receive free spice refills for five years after the initial purchase. That’s a lot of garlic salt.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Bar Serving Cart; $110

Haotian/Amazon

This rolling bar cart (which can hold up to four wine bottles and six stemmed glasses) is the ideal space-saving solution for any oenophile. The different levels can be used for snacks, wine buckets, and liquor bottles, while the top shelf can be removed and used as a food tray. Plus, its wood metal appearance means it will fit in with plenty of different decor in your home. Since it’s on wheels, you can easily move the cart around your home without worrying about it scratching the floor.

Buy it: Amazon

3. 4-Piece Acrylic Canister Set, $20

Oggi/Amazon

Keep your cookies, candies, sweet treats, and other kitchen staples organized with these simple acrylic canisters, which come in packs of four or five. Each comes with an air-tight lid that helps keep your food fresh for longer (read: no more stale cookies). You can opt to store them right on your countertop, or stow them away in your pantry. And before you refill the cannisters with a different food, you can throw them in the dishwasher for a quick clean first.

Buy it: Amazon

4. No-Drill Shower Caddy; $17

Gricol/Amazon

This easy-to-install, drill-free shower shelf keeps your toiletries and other bathroom essentials organized while your shower remains free of clutter. Plus, its durable hand-polished aluminum frame is scratch-resistant and designed to protect against wear and tear. You can also use the two attached hangers to store your loofah, body brush, or towel. All you have to do is wait 24 hours to use it upon installation, and voila!

Buy it: Amazon

5. Rotating Makeup Organizer; $20

Coyaho/Amazon

Calling all beauty mavens: You need this 360-degree rotating cosmetics organizer—which can hold everything from eyeshadow to your beloved skincare products—in your life. Not only is it washable, durable, and eco-friendly, but you can also easily adjust its height to fit different sized bottles (think perfume, foundations, serums, and more). And, according to the company, it takes no more than one minute to assemble.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Bathroom Storage Corner Floor Cabinet; $36

Aojezor/Amazon

This space-saving bathroom storage cabinet from AOJEZOR is compact enough to fit in even the tiniest of corners or crevices. Use the top area to hold a cellphone or display a houseplant, while the shelves are ideal for excess toiletries, toilet paper, hand towels, or tissues.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Desktop Organizer Storage Rack; $26

Jerry and Maggie

This handy adjustable desktop organizer (which also serves as a storage shelf) comes in four colors: black, white, natural wood, and white wood—making it the perfect addition to any home office. The product itself is made up of two main parts, which can be rotated to best suit your organizational needs and maximize storage space. Plus, its sturdy yet lightweight build makes it easy to move, transport, and carry.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Portable 7-Tier, Free-Standing Shoe Organizer; $28

UDEAR/Amazon

Shoe organizers aren’t just for college students living in dorms. This portable and adjustable model from UDEAR is lightweight, durable, and easy to assemble—meaning you won’t have to hire a handyman or waste hours of your free time putting it together. It can also hold up to 27 pairs of shoes (think boots, sneakers, stilettos, and everything in between), and when it’s time for spring cleaning, simply wipe it with a damp cloth.

Buy it: Amazon

9. K-Cup Carousel; $20

The Nifty Store/Amazon

Keep your beloved K-Cups within arm’s reach—and display them for all to see—with this rotating carousel, which holds up to 35 K-Cups. Besides, this all-steel model from Nifty is a lot more stylish than those bulky boxes that take up precious counter and shelf space.

Buy it: Amazon

10. 36-Peg Mug Rack; $58

BirdRock Home/Amazon

Keep your coffee cup collection on display with a handy mug organizer. This one from BirdRock Home holds up to 36 mugs and adds a whimsical (and personal) touch to any kitchen. Plus, it frees up a ton of shelf space, which you can then use to store more of your favorite snacks.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Double Layer Jewelry Organizer; $16

Misaya/Amazon

Keep your baubles organized and stowed away with this portable jewelry organizer from Misaya Jewelry. Its compact size is easy enough to store in a drawer, a suitcase, or a vanity. Besides holding necklaces, bracelets, and rings, it can also accommodate up to 10 pairs of earrings. Its soft, anti-abrasive velvet lining will prevent your jewelry from scratching, tarnishing, or other wear and tear. Choose from seven different hues.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Adjustable Pan and Pot Holder; $16

Simple Trending Store/Amazon

Chances are, you’re guilty of shoving all of your pots and pans so tightly together that you’re unable to even shut your cabinet door. (Oops.) Thankfully, this functional pot and pan rack from Simple Trending—which can hold up to five pots/pans and lids—eliminates unnecessary clutter. Its non-stick coating protects your pans and pots from scratching or sliding on each other.

Buy it: Amazon

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