About Plantains


Though they belong to the banana family, plantains are much starchier and must be cooked. Sliced fried plantain slices, called tostones, accompany many Latin American and Caribbean dishes. As plantains ripen, the fruit becomes sweeter and the skin color changes from green to yellow to half-black and finally to black. The stage of ripeness indicates how the plantain should be prepared. Any plantain that isn't squishy soft, moldy, cracked, or dried and hard is good to eat. Occasionally, you will come across a plantain that does not soften, no matter how dark it gets. It should be discarded.

Green plantains are hard and starchy and not sweet at all. Treat them like potatoes and fry, roast, or boil them for a comparable length of time. Try adding chunks of green plantain to soups and stews and braising them with meat.

Prepare yellow plantains just like green ones: they will taste slightly sweeter and have a smoother texture. Yellow plantains are delicious mashed and combined with other sweet vegetables such as winter squash. Treat black plantains as you would ripe bananas. They tend to hold their shape better than common bananas, so they can be cooked longer, which develops their complexity and allows the fruit to absorb more flavor.

When storing, keep them at room temperature until ready to use. After plantains ripen to black, they can be refrigerated to prolong life. Plantains have thicker, tougher skins than bananas. If using a yellow or half-black plantain that will be sliced, cut it crosswise through the skin in 3" to 4" lengths. Score the skin lengthwise and remove it. To remove the skin from a green plantain, cut off the ends and make 3 or 4 lengthwise slits in the skin, cutting just to the fruit. Place it in a bowl of warm water to cover, and let it soak until the skin is softened, about 10 minutes. Run your thumb under the slits to ease the skin off the fruit.

More Vegetables Guide

Visitors Currently Online: 13