Everyday Cheapskate: When it comes to stocking up on bananas, don’t believe old wives’ tales; more tips for readers | Advice

For years I believed in an old wives tale that bananas would turn black and spoil almost instantly if you put them in the fridge. In fact, I even conveyed this notion to you. Whoops ! Hearing Reader Lin made me reconsider, test, and now recant. Lin is right. I was wrong!

BANANAS IN THE FRIDGE. I read in your column some time ago how to keep fruit fresh longer. You said don’t put bananas in the fridge. I do not agree. We put fresh bananas in the fridge, and they may turn black and ugly on the outside, but inside, even after seven days or more, they’re as fresh and firm as new. Try it. -Linen

(I have found that if I put the bananas in a plastic bag and tie or seal it tightly and then put it in the crisper, the bananas retain their yellow color. There is something about black bananas – even though they are perfectly fine inside – I find a bit off-putting! —MH)

MARINATED ANTS. I have used vinegar as a weed killer for decades. A few weeks ago I discovered that it was also an excellent ant killer. Just spray them on. There is very little odor; what smell there is disappears quickly. I have a long standing problem with ants in my kitchen and bathroom and dislike using insecticides for many reasons (i.e. cat and dog, poison, smell, oily , contact with my skin). Now I don’t have to worry about that anymore! —Anne

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ASPARTAMOUS ANTS. The next time there is an ant invasion, spread a single packet of Nutrasweet, Equal or Sweet N’ Low (or another sweetener containing aspartame) on part of the trail. One treatment kills all the ants in less than a day, and I haven’t seen them come back yet. Try it and see. —Howell

GENTLE SKIN CARE. I have a great homemade recipe for an exfoliator that uses what I have in my pantry. I mix equal amounts of honey and cornmeal and apply to my face, elbows and heels. It leaves my skin feeling wonderful and smells great too. —Lee

RUBBER GRIP. Instead of using those rubbery discs designed to grab a jar lid to make it easier to open, simply place a rubber band or two around the lid and twist! It gives you a great grip on the lid and it’s much more convenient than keeping one more thing in your kitchen that only serves one purpose. —Mara

LAND GRINDING. Instead of buying whole peppercorns to use in a grinder, I simply fill my grinder with regular ground black pepper. The grind is large enough that when ground again I get a taste of fresh ground pepper at a fraction of the cost. And a bottle of coarse ground pepper lasts much longer than those tiny bottles of peppercorns. — Jennifer

WRAPPING A BOUQUET GARNI. If you’re making soup, a bouquet garni (spices and herbs tied in a small packet so they can be easily removed before serving) is a wonderful thing. But instead of buying cheesecloth for this process, I wrap the herbs and spices in a coffee filter, roll it up or fold it up, and wrap it with string. I put it in the pot and fish it out easily with a spoon when the soup is cooked. —Jessica

LEAF SQUIRRER. One morning I had trouble cleaning the dried pancake batter in a bowl. Instead of reaching for a scouring pad, I balled up a piece of used aluminum foil and it worked perfectly to clean the bowl. —Brenda

CONVENIENT CHARCOAL LIGHTER FLUID. I have found that charcoal lighter fluid works well to remove sticker residue. A little on a rag does the job. I also found it did a great job removing oil paint from brushes. It has very little odor and it’s much cheaper than what you buy in the store for this very purpose. – Grace

REUSE MOUSE PADs. If you have more mouse pads than you know what to do with, use them for other things around the house:

— These are excellent furniture protectors for indoor clay flower pots. Simply cut the pad to fit the size of the pot.

— Put pad in 4 inch squares for coasters.

— Use it as a heating pad to protect your table from high temperature scarring.

— Leave a clean mouse pad in the kitchen to open stubborn bottles and jars.

REALLY CLEAN. Clean the inside of your dishwasher with two packets of Unsweetened Lemon Kool-Aid. Pour the Kool-Aid packets into each of the dishwasher’s detergent cups and run it through the longest, hottest cycle available. Lemon Kool-Aid is loaded with citric acid, just what you need to remove soap scum and hard water minerals that build up inside the dishwasher. -Katie

RECHARGE FOAM PUMP. I put 25 drops of liquid soap into the empty foaming hand soap container and slowly fill the rest with cold water. Screw the pump back on and shake well. Perfect consistency. The best for refilling are Dial foam pumps. I have tried everything and these last the longest. Soaking the pump in white vinegar once a month will increase its “pumping” life. —Kathy

GOOD UNTIL THE LAST BIT. When you get to the bottom of the cereal bag and there’s still a significant amount of cereal, but you don’t want all that cereal powder in your bowl, pour it into a colander. Shake the powder and pour the cereal into your bowl! Nothing lost! — Jane

Mary Hunt, founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Submit comments, advice or questions on its website. She will respond to topics of general interest through this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.

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