Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things - Bananas
Don't overlook bananas' appeal -- they're more than tasty, they're useful, too!
Make a face mask
Who needs Botox when you have bananas? That's right: You can use a banana as an all-natural face mask that moisturizes your skin and leaves it looking and feeling softer. Mash up a medium-sized ripe banana into a smooth paste, then gently apply it to your face and neck. Let it set for 10-20 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water. Another popular mask recipe calls for 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 medium banana.
Eat a frozen "banana-sicle"
As a summer treat for friends and family, peel and cut four ripe bananas in half (across the middle). Stick a wooden ice-cream stick into the flat end of each piece. Place them all on a piece of wax paper, and then put it in the freezer. A few hours later, serve them up as simply yummy frozen banana-sicles. If you want to go all-out, quickly dip your frozen bananas in 6 ounces (170 grams) melted butterscotch or chocolate morsels (chopped nuts or shredded coconut are optional), then refreeze.
Tenderize a roast
Banana leaves are commonly used in many Asian countries to wrap meat as it's cooking to make it more tender. Some folks in these areas say the banana itself also has this ability. So the next time you fear the roast you're cooking will turn tough on you, try softening it up by adding a ripe, peeled banana to the pan.
Polish silverware and leather shoes
It may sound a bit like a lark, but using a banana peel is actually a great way to put the shine back into your silverware and leather shoes. First, remove any of the leftover stringy material from the inside of the peel, then just start rubbing the inside of the peel on your shoes or silver. When you're done, buff up the object with a paper towel or soft cloth. You might even want to use this technique to restore your leather furniture. Test it on a small section first before you take on the whole chair.
Brighten up houseplants
Are the leaves on your houseplants looking dingy or dusty? Don't bother misting them with water -- that just spreads the dirt around. Rather, wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel. It'll remove all the gunk on the surface and replace it with a lustrous shine.
Are aphids attacking your rosebushes or other plants? Bury dried or cut-up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the aphid-prone plants, and soon the little suckers will pack up and leave. Don't use whole peels or the bananas themselves, though; they tend to be viewed as tasty treats by raccoons, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and other animals, who will just dig them up.
Use as fertilizer or mulch
Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium -- an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use it as a mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start. Many cultivars of roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants.
Add to compost pile
With their high content of potassium and phosphorus, whole bananas and peels are welcome additions to any compost pile -- particularly in so-called compost tea recipes. The fruit breaks down especially fast in hot temperatures. But don't forget to remove any glued-on tags from the peels, and be sure to bury bananas deep within your pile -- otherwise they may simply turn out to be a meal for a four-legged visitor.
Attract butterflies and birds
Bring more butterflies and various bird species to your backyard by putting out overripe bananas (as well as other fruits such as mangos, oranges, and papayas) on a raised platform. Punch a few holes in the bananas to make the fruit more accessible to the butterflies. Some enthusiasts swear by adding a drop of Gatorade to further mush things up. The fruit is also likely to attract more bees and wasps as well, so make sure that the plat-form is well above head level and not centrally located. Moreover, you'll probably want to clear it off before sunset, to discourage visits from raccoons and other nocturnal creatures.