From Shoe Shining to Skin Smoothing: 7 Uses for Overripe Bananas

Just because a banana has passed its prime is no reason to feed it to the garbage can. Here's how to show old bananas some love.

two banana bunches side by side in dappled sun, one fresh, one bruised and brown

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

There they sit in the fruit bowl, doing the slow dance from green to golden to...way past perfect. Overripe bananas. It happens to the best of them.

Although bananas are cheap and plentiful, don't let all the resources and food miles they require go to waste. Bananas aren't a fait accompli once they've passed their prime. Here are seven jobs for aged bananas that are otherwise unemployable.

1. Banana Sugar Scrub

back shot of woman rubbing diy homemade banana sugar scrub into her shoulders

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Banana's nutrient-rich flesh is a great skin moisturizer and works perfectly as the base of a sugar scrub; and your skin won't know the difference if the banana has seen better days. Lightly mash one banana with three tablespoons of granulated sugar, a teaspoon of olive oil, and a few drops of vanilla extract or the essential oil of your choice (optional). Get in the shower and before turning on the water, massage the mix all over. Rinse. Feel sweet and smooth.

For a quick facial, reserve some of the plain banana (without sugar) and massage on your face, avoiding the eye area. Rinse.

2. Smoothie Ice

hands drop frozen chips of banana ice into glass jar for making smoothies

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Nothing makes for a diluted-tasting, watery smoothie like ice as it melts. Nothing makes for a rich and creamy smoothie like frozen banana. So, trade ice cubes for frozen banana chunks; overripe bananas, once frozen, seem good as new when blended into oblivion. Peel bananas, slice, freeze. Use in place of ice. Done.

3. Butterfly Bait

light yellow butterfly rests in field of pale pink-purple flowers

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Come to the rescue of hungry butterflies! You can use three overripe bananas in a formula that can help feed butterflies.

4. Shoe Polish

standing person rubs and polishes black leather boots down with bruised banana peel

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

An old trick of the Marines, ditch the toxic shoe polish and employ a banana peel to buff your leather shoes into shiny perfection. It really works. Peel the banana (and use the guts in any of the other uses listed here), rub the inside of the peel on shoes, then buff with a soft cloth.

5. Rose Bloom Happy-Maker

tight focus shot of pink rose in bloom with rose bushes in background

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

If the bloom on your rosebush has faded, try this--many a rose whisperer swear by it. Puree one overripe banana with a one-half cup of water in the blender. Lightly dig up the soil around the rose, pour the mix in, and blend into the soil. Next up: Stellar blooms!

6. Houseplant Booster

hand waters houseplant in terra cotta pot with a mason jar filled with old banana and water

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Enrich your houseplant water with this banana-based booster. Put a banana peel in a large jar and cover with water. Use this “juice” in your regular watering can: one part banana juice to five parts water. Water plants. You can keep adding water to the banana jar, too, to keep a fresh supply of the super-water coming.

7. Banana Bread Pudding

person lifts fork of banana bread pudding dish at sunny breakfast table setting

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Of course, there's banana bread. But you can take the predictable making-of-banana-bread route a step further by making banana bread pudding. It’s so good.

  • 2 cups milk of your choice (oat milk works well here)
  • 6 mashed bananas
  • 1 cup sugar (or your preferred natural sweetener)
  • 2 large eggs or egg substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 cups day-old bread cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Whisk milk, banana, sweetener, eggs, spices, and bourbon or vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes.

3. Let stand 15 minutes, then put pudding mixture in a 9 x 12 pan. (You can use a 9-inch springform pan for a more-elegant result).

4. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

5. Serve plain or with fresh fruit, or garnish with your favorite dairy topping like whipped coconut cream or mascarpone; chocolate and/or warm caramel sauce is sublime here too. It's a perfect banana-y base to get creative with.