New Food Friday – Plantains

19 Oct

I like to experiment trying new foods every now and then and sometimes trying new combinations of foods. So, I decided I would share my experiences with you and write a post about it every Friday. Each New Food Friday will be about a food or foods that are good for your health. I will also provide nutritional data.

This Friday’s new food are plantains.  Have you ever tried them?

Plantain plant

You know what they look like – they look just like a banana.

But they don’t taste anything like a banana. In fact, their flavor is difficult to describe.

Some people say they taste like squash. I don’t know if I would agree with that. Their flavor is very mild though. I prepared my plantain by slicing and frying the pieces in canola oil.

Plantain Frying

I like canola oil because it has no flavor. In this type of preparation, the plantains have the look and the consistency of French fries. There isn’t much difference.

This was my first plantain experience. The plantain I bought was slightly green on the ends and I waited until it turned yellow before I fried it. Some people like to mash plantains like mashed potatoes. You boil them like potatoes and mash them like potatoes. I haven’t tried them that way yet.

Plantains slowly turn from green, to yellow, to black, just like a banana. They also go from very firm and starchy, to soft like a banana and they get sweeter as they ripen just like a banana but that is where their similarity ends.  Their skin is thicker than a banana which makes them a bit difficult to peel when they are green. Plantains are inexpensive. I paid all of $.43 for my first big plantain.  As you can see from the photos, I fried mine then drained the slices on paper towels and salted them. They ripen very slowly and they fry very quickly!

In fact, I slightly burned one side of my plantain slices with the first batch I made. I only fried up half the plantain because I wanted to wait until the other half ripened more to see what it tasted like.

Plantain Half

Even though I slightly burned some of the slices which gave them a slightly bitter note, I still enjoyed them.

About a week later, I fried up the other half of the plantain and watched it more carefully when I fried them up. No bitter note. They stay nice and hot so be careful you don’t burn your mouth when you eat them. I didn’t notice any change in taste when I fried the second half even though it had a streak of brown on the skin which means it was getting sweeter.

I bought a second plantain and fried it up the same way and enjoyed it. I haven’t had the patience to wait until it turned brown to see the difference in taste. Once they turn brown or black, they can be used in dessert recipes.

Americans think of plantains as being used for Mexican or Latin dishes. According to Wikipedia, plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world. They fruit all year round. Africa is the largest plantain-producing continent. Northern California is a minor producer of plantains. India, Indonesia, Venezuela, Cuba, Australia, and many other countries produce plantains.  

Plantains, red bananas, apple bananas, and the cavendish banana (the one you put on your corn flakes)

The uses for this fruit are mind-boggling. Every part of the fruit can be used for something it seems. The skin can be made into a drink, the fruit can be made into a flour, the plantain flower is used in soups and gravies, the leaves are used to make tamales or they’re used as plates since they are stronger than banana leaves. The plantain shoots can be used as a salad. Juice from the stem and the peel have been used as first aid for burns and minor abrasions. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Plantains are a good source of Vitamin A, C, B6, and potassium.  Plantains have 890 mg of potassium while bananas have 422 mg ! Potassium stimulates your muscles, nerves and brain cells, and can also help reduce blood pressure and risk of stroke. Plantains are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. Recipes for plantains are endless! I will leave the recipes (other than the simple one I mention in this post) for the food/recipe blogging gals and guys out there.

I give plantains a thumb’s up! You should give them a try if you are new to them.

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10 Responses to “New Food Friday – Plantains”

  1. tbnranch October 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Funny, I didn’t know about this food, but it brought back some childhood memories of my Mom making us kids fried bananas. If I never eat a fried banana and bologna sandwich again it’ll suit me just fine. ha ha

    • Marcella Rousseau October 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      LOL. I understand completely. My mom used to make scrambled eggs and tomatoes and I brought it to school everyday until I couldn’t look at it anymore.

  2. P. C. Zick October 21, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Thanks for this post. I’ve only eaten them in restaurants and always enjoyed them. I’ll have to look for them at the market and give it a try.

    • Marcella Rousseau October 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      They’ve got a lot of positives. I was amazed at how popular they are in so many countries. The US seems to be slow in adopting them, especially since they are so easy to prepare! You cut them open, you slice them, and you fry them! You don’t really have to wash the outside skin unless you wash a banana before you eat it, but who does that? They keep well, they’re inexpensive. High in fiber and potassium. What’s not to love? I’m going to try boiling them next time.

  3. silverbells2012 October 20, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    I’ve eaten plantain as cooked by people whose native cuisine includes it but never done so myself – not easy to come by round here! I can’t remember if I liked it or not but would be interested to give it another go.

    • Marcella Rousseau October 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      Try Walmart. My Walmart had them. Where do you live?

      • silverbells2012 October 22, 2012 at 5:09 am #

        We don’t have Walmart in the UK but there are lots of ‘ethnic’ shops where I could probably get plantain. Maybe next time I am passing I could get some.

    • Marcella Rousseau October 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Let me know if you find/try it!

  4. Staci Troilo October 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I’ve never prepared them myself, but I’ve eaten them in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. (Maybe also Hawaii; I can’t remember.) You’re right about them not tasting like bananas, but I thought they were pretty good. I never think about making them here because I usually try to cook low carb, but at that price, I might reconsider.

    • Marcella Rousseau October 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Several websites say 62 g of carbs. You might try just having a small amount (as I did) at a time. They keep very well. I had banana chips in Jamaica. They were delicious! They weren’t the same in the US.

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