A plantain to the untrained eye could easily be mistaken for a banana. It looks and smells like a banana, but if you ever bite into a raw plantain (plátano in Spanish), you’ll know it’s not.
Plantains are bigger than bananas, harder to peel (especially when green), and can not be eaten raw. They must be cooked for consumption. So, why are they so popular in Caribbean cuisine? Plantains are very versatile. They are always ready for cooking no matter what stage of ripeness – green, yellow or black, and plantains are used in different dishes from appetizers to desserts.
Stages of Ripeness
A plantain is a fruit, but considered a vegetable. When green, they are bland and starchy, much like a yucca root or potato. Medium ripe plantains are yellow or yellow dappled with black, and they are slightly sweet. When the skins have turned almost black, the plantains are fully ripe, aromatic and sweet.
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