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The Different Types of Plantains: What to Know and How to Use Them

Plantains

Plantains are a starchy, versatile fruit that is closely related to bananas. They are a staple food in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world and are used in a wide variety of dishes.

What are plantains? Did you know that all plantains are not the same? A plantain is not a banana. A green banana is not a plantain, either. Green plantain or sweet plantain is simply plantain. A banana is a banana, whether it is green or yellow.

Are there different kinds or types of plantains?

There are three main types of plantains: green, yellow, and black.

  • Green plantains are the most starchy and have a firm texture. They are often used in savory dishes, such as fried plantains, plantain chips, and tostones.
  • Yellow plantains are slightly sweeter than green plantains and have a softer texture. They can be used in savory and sweet dishes, such as plantain curry, pancakes, and bread.
  • Black plantains are the sweetest and most ripe of the three types. They are often used in desserts, such as plantain pudding, plantain pie, and plantain ice cream.
types of plantains
Plantains and Bananas
Plantains and Bananas

Are plantains vegetables or fruits?

Plantains are categorized as vegetables and fruit, depending on the ripening stages.  

Botanically speaking, plantains are fruits. They are the edible product of a flowering plant and contain seeds. However, in culinary terms, plantains are often considered to be vegetables. This is because they are typically cooked and used in savory dishes like fried plantains or plantain chips.

The stage of ripeness of a plantain also affects how it is used in cooking. Green plantains are the most starchy and have a firm texture. They are often used in savory dishes, such as tostones and plantain fritters. Yellow plantains are slightly sweeter and have a softer texture. They can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Black plantains are the sweetest and most ripe of the three types. They are often used in desserts, such as plantain pudding and plantain pie.

Ultimately, whether you consider plantains to be fruits or vegetables is up to you. However, there is no denying that they are versatile and delicious food that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes.

Sweet Plantains
Sweet Plantains

 What is the ripeness stage of Plantains?

The stage of ripeness of a plantain affects its taste and texture. Green plantains are typically cooked until they are soft and slightly browned. Yellow plantains can be cooked until they are soft or fried until they are crispy. Black plantains are typically cooked until they are soft and mushy.

Plantains can be cooked in a variety of ways, including frying, roasting, boiling, and baking. They can also be mashed, pureed, or grilled.

Plantains are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. They are also a good source of carbohydrates, which provide energy.

Here are some tips for choosing and using plantains:

  • Choose plantains that are firm and free of bruises.
  • Green plantains can be stored at room temperature for a few days. Yellow and black plantains should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • To cook green plantains, peel them and cut them into pieces. Then, cook them in a pan with oil or water until soft.
  • To cook yellow plantains, peel them and cut them into pieces. Then, roast them in the oven or grill them until soft.
  • To cook black plantains, peel them and mash them. Then, fry them until they are crispy.

Plantains are versatile and delicious fruits that can be used in a variety of dishes. With a little know-how, you can easily learn how to choose, store, and cook them like a pro.

A short history of plantains

Plantains have a long and convoluted history. The earliest written reference to plantains was in 2500 BCE. They were introduced to other parts of the world by traders in the early years, and their cultivation quickly spread, similar to that of their close relative, the banana.

Plantains are now grown exclusively in developing countries in the tropics and the Caribbean. As one of the world’s most important crops and a popular staple food, plantains are often used as a substitute for other starchy foods and grains, such as potatoes, yams, rice, and cornmeal.

Although the history of plantains is somewhat convoluted and not well-known, they have found a place in many households around the world. Today, they are eaten boiled, fried, baked, and mashed in many different cultures.

Where to buy plantains

Plantains are often labeled simply as “plantains” in supermarkets, but different varieties are available. These varieties can be distinguished by their color and ripeness.

  • Green plantains are the most common type and are typically used in savory dishes. They have a firm texture and a mild flavor.
  • Yellow plantains are slightly sweeter than green ones and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. They have a softer texture than green plantains.
  • Black plantains are the ripest type and are typically used in desserts. They have a very sweet flavor and a soft, mushy texture.

If you are unsure what plantain you are looking for, ask a store employee for help. You can also find plantains at specialty markets, ethnic grocery stores, and farmers’ markets.

Plantains take a long time to ripen. The ripening process is called hydrolysis, which is the breakdown of starch into sugar. The more moisture a fruit contains, the faster the hydrolysis process occurs. Plantains contain less moisture than bananas, so they take longer to ripen. Green plantains can take up to 5 weeks to ripen. Once ripe, plantains can be eaten boiled, fried, baked, or mashed.

What are the two types of cooked plantains?

The best way to cook plantains is to choose the right type for your dish. Green plantains are best for savory dishes, while yellow plantains are best for sweet dishes.

Here are some specific examples of dishes that use each type of cooked plantain:

  • Green plantains
    • Fried plantains: These are a classic dish that is popular in many cultures. To make fried plantains, peel and slice the plantains into rounds. Then, fry them in oil until they are golden brown and crispy.
    • Plantain chips: These are delicious and healthy snacks. To make plantain chips, slice the plantains into thin rounds. Then, bake them in the oven until they are crispy.
    • Tostones: These are crispy fried plantain fritters popular in the Dominican Republic. To make tostones, peel and slice the plantains into rounds. Then, fry them in oil until they are golden brown. Once they are cool enough to handle, flatten them with a spatula and fry them until they are crispy.
  • Yellow plantains
    • Plantain curry: This is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a winter meal. To make plantain curry, simply saute some onions and garlic in oil. Then, add the plantains, curry powder, and other spices. Cook until the plantains are soft.
    • Plantain pancakes: These are a delicious and easy way to enjoy plantains for breakfast. To make plantain pancakes, simply mash the plantains and then add them to your favorite pancake batter. Cook the pancakes as usual.
    • Plantain bread: This is a hearty and versatile bread that is perfect for sandwiches or toast. To make plantain bread, simply combine the plantains, flour, sugar, eggs, and other ingredients. Bake the bread in a loaf pan until it is golden brown.

Plantains are a staple food in the Caribbean.

Plantains are a staple food in many Caribbean and Latin American homes. They are versatile fruit that can be eaten cooked or raw, and they are used in a variety of dishes.

In Haiti, there are several names for different varieties of plantains. The correct spelling of some of these names is not available, but they are commonly known as:

  • Bannan gros bot 
  • Bannan poban 
  • Bannan musket 
  • Bannan cho 
  • Grand Vincent
  • Rullo
Another type of plantains
Another type of plantain

Some benefits of plantains

Plantains have some great benefits. They are filled with nutrients and are a great substitute for many grains and root vegetables. Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, who is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic, and clinical nutritionist with a passion for helping people get healthy by using food as medicine, has provided some valuable information on his website regarding plantains which I would love to share with you.

Here are a few benefits from Dr. Axe: (https://draxe.com/plantains/)

Nutritional Facts About Plantains

One cup of raw plantain has roughly (in recommended daily values):

  • 181 calories
  • 47 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.9 grams protein
  • 0.5 grams fat
  • 3.4 grams fiber
  • 27.2 milligrams vitamin C (45 percent DV)
  • 1,668 IU vitamin A (33 percent)
  • 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (22 percent)
  • 739 milligrams potassium (21 percent)
  • 55 milligrams magnesium (14 percent)
  • 0.9 milligrams iron (5 percent)

Plantains are typically eaten cooked, which changes the fruit’s nutritional value. One cup of cooked, mashed plantains has:

  • 232 calories
  • 62.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.6 grams protein
  • 0.4 gram fat
  • 4.6 grams fiber
  • 1,818 IU vitamin A (36 percent)
  • 21.8 milligrams vitamin C (36 percent)
  • 930 milligrams potassium (27 percent)
  • 0.5 milligram vitamin B6 (24 percent)
  • 64 milligrams magnesium (16 percent)
  • 1.2 milligrams iron (6 percent)

If you wish to learn more about the benefits, Dr. Axe provides a great explanation. See the bottom of the article.

Recipe ideas for plantains

Sources:

Originally published on June 25, 2016. Revised and updated.

6 Comments

  1. Here in Barbados we have a buffit which, I am told, is neither a plantain nor a banana. It looks like a squat plantain. I can send a photo

  2. You can see the difference between the Plantain and the Blogo in your pictures.
    Look at the “tip” and thickness. The plaintain is slimmer, more like a regular banana, but with a longer, thin, tip. Your last picture “Another type of plantains” is the Blogo (also called other names, depending on where you are). It’s thicker than the Plantain and the tip is not as long. I could be wrong, but I think the Blogo has more starch than the Plantain…or if it was the other way around. 😉

    1. It also tastes differently and when cooked, it has a gray-whiteish color. I’m from Haiti, and we call it kiyese or kièse, I’m not completely sure about the spelling.

  3. The picture “another type of plantain” is called rullo in NYC supermarkets and labeled as a product of Columbia. Both it for the first time and was checking on line

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