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?
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.
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.
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.
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.