This popular banana in Latin American, Caribbean, and Asian countries is often referred to as a cooking banana. Plantains resemble bananas but they are longer in length, thicker skinned, and starchier in flavor. In most countries, plantains are used more like a vegetable than a fruit. They are not suitable for eating raw unless very ripe, when they turn completely black. One half of a large plantain is low in sodium, and high in vitamin A. This versatile fruit has three unique stages when they can be eaten.
Green plantains taste more like a potato with a starchy texture. At this stage, the interior is yellowish or slightly pink. The fruit is firm and is often used as side dishes.
Yellow plantains are the middle stage of the fruit. These plantains can have some brownish-black spots. Their role now is both vegetable and fruit and is used in dishes that request for a slightly sweet taste and firm texture.
Black plantains are typically found in sweeter recipes. These plantains are all black or spotty black and are soft. Black plantains can be eaten out of hand.
Availability, Selection, Storage, and Preparation
Plantains are available year round. You can buy plantains at any stage (green, yellow, or black) depending on your use and when you want to enjoy them.
Plantains need to be stored at room temperature. After desired stage of ripeness is reached its okay to refrigerate 2 to 3 days before cooking to slow down the ripen process. As with other bananas, plantains freeze well.
Plantains can be difficult to peel depending on their stage of ripeness. Black plantains are peeled like other bananas. It’s best to use cut the top and bottom of the banana first. Then using the tip of the knife, run the knife along the skin from the top to the bottom of the banana. Repeat this step on all four ridges. Next, carefully peel the skin away from the pulp. The greener the plantain, the thicker the skin; it's best to peel green plantains under water to minimize bruising.