Let’s Celebrate Plantain! What other food is so versatile that it can be found in porridge, soups and salads, side orders, main dishes, combined with meat and fish or in desserts? What other food can be found in a fancy accompaniment or as a simple snack?
A fixture of Caribbean, Latin-American and West African cuisine for hundreds of years, the versatile highly nutritious fruit is inexpensive and very popular with both adults and kids making it a health food with a real wow factor!
Nutritional Value Of Plantain
The nutritional value of plantain is greater than that of banana and makes it stand out as a very important addition to healthy cooking:
Plantain has a low GI, is rich in carbs, dietary fibre, magnesium and phosphate. Also rich in potassium it helps maintain a healthy heart, prevent hypertension and heart attack. An excellent source of vitamins A, B6, and C plantain helps maintain vision, healthy skin, and build immune defenses against diseases.
Containing complex carbs that are slowly released over time, cooked unripe plantain is very good for diabetics. Extremely low in cholesterol and fat, high in fibre and starch a typical average size plantain after cooking contains 4 – 6 grams of fibre and about 0.01 to 0.3 grams of fat. An average size cooked plantain has about about 260 Calories (Average plantain contains 65g of calories. Every gram of carbohydrate equals to 4 calories).
What You Need To Know Before You Buy Plantain
Plantains have thicker skins and are longer and larger than bananas. However, a low-sugar, starchy member of the banana family, plantains have a different taste at every stage of ripening.
Plantains come in 4 shades and ripening stages. Recipe are numerous and varied – plantain can be cooked boiled, fried, grilled, baked, stuffed, pickled, or mashed. So, before you start cooking your favourite plantain dish be sure to buy the right type you need for your recipe.
Plantain Shades And Ripening Stages
Green Plantain is the unripe plantain. At this stage, it is hard when touched, don’t peel easily and when peeled creamy or pearly in coloration with a unique “green”, quite astringent and chalky taste. Use green plantains in their unripe stage for boiling and mashing, as a condiment or potato replacement.
Mottled Brown and Yellow Plantain
Mid or semi-ripe plantains, which appear yellow, are suitable for a less sweet flavour that’s not as astringent as green, unripe plantains. Yellow Plantain is firm to touch, and when peeled creamy to yellow in coloration. In the semi-ripe stage more starch is turning to sugar, making yellow plantains ideal for use in main dishes with a bit of sweetness. Deep fry thick slices in this stage, or use in slightly sweeter mashes.
When the skin has turned black plantains are at the peak of their ripening where starches will have fully converted to sugars. They are softer to touch and peel easily. Black Plantains will soon become spoiled and taste their sweetest making them ideal for use in desserts and stuffings.
Black Plantain With White Sheen
Consider buying overripe plantains, when their black skin assumes a white sheen, although they appear rotten at this stage. When overripe, plantains turn caramel as they cook making them ideal for use in desserts and porridge
Green plantains are best for savory dishes, while ripe and over ripe plantains are perfect for sweet dishes. Yellow plantains can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Both yellow and green plantains make excellent, crispy chips.
Plantain Dos and Don’ts
If you’ve bought green plantains (as I did on my first green horn visit to Brixton market 17 years ago) and do not wish to cook them immediately, leave them in a place where they would be exposed to light to speed up the ripening process.
Don’t expose unripe plantains to direct sunlight where the heat could rise well above room temperature and Don’t leave unripe plantains in the refrigerator, as it would interrupt the natural ripening process.
Ripe plantains can be kept in the refrigerator if you aren’t consuming them within the next few days.
Cooking Plantain (Sweet and Savoury Plantain Dishes)
Aunty Rose’ Fried Savoury Plantain (recipe attached below)
Cut green plantains into two-inch sections and boil until they have the consistency of boiled potatoes. Add milk, sea salt and a blob of butter for a tasty mash. You may like to try adding other starchy ingredients such as sweet potato.
Blossom’s Micro Waved Plantain ( Anti Jet Lag)
Microwave green unripe plantains for a healthy pick-me-up snack, or to combat jet-lag. Clean plantain under warm running water, then make some diagonal incisions with sharp knife. Wrap in plastic wrap, microwave for 2 minutes. Open, unpeel and serve hot, with a blob of butter or aux naturelle.
Slice yellow or green plantains, then deep-fry them in a chip kettle or deep frying pan containing 1/2 -1 inch of very hot sun flower oil – a similar process to making potato chips. Remove plantain from pan, place and drain on kitchen towels to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with salt.
Sweet Yellow Plantain
Use yellow plantains for a sweet dessert. Melt a 50g butter in a warm skillet. Cut 4 plantains into 4-5 sections each and place them in the skillet. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks, or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder, and 4 tbs of brown sugar. Cook the plantains for 3 minutes on each side. Serve the plantains hot, spooning the butter-cinnamon-sugar sauce on top of them.
Author’s note: We would love to see and hear from you, if you have got plantain recipes you’d love to share with us: dishes for children, sides, deserts, cakes and bread – the lot. Let us see your plantain recipes! Plantain Yum!
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