Boxes on a Pallet: 48
Native to India, plantains are grown most widely in tropical climates. At first sight, many people confuse them with bananas. Although they look a lot like green bananas and are a close relative, plantains are quite different. They are starchy rather than sweet and are used as a vegetable in many cuisine's, especially those of Latin America and Africa. Plantains are sometimes referred to as the pasta and potatoes of the Caribbean. Sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, they usually resemble green bananas but ripe plantains may be black in color. They are longer and have thicker skins than bananas. They also have natural brown spots and rough areas. This vegetable-banana can be eaten and tastes different at every stage of development. The interior color of the fruit will remain creamy, yellowish or lightly pink. When the peel is green to yellow, the flavor of the flesh is bland and its texture is starchy. As the peel changes to brown or black, it has a sweeter flavor and more of a banana aroma, but still keeps a firm shape when cooked.
Plantain is relatively high in calories at 125 per cup. It is an excellent source of potassium, a good source of vitamin C, contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium. One cup cooked plantain yields a trace of fat, 2.3 g dietary fiber, 465 mg potassium, 26 mcg folate, 10.9 mg vitamin C, 909 IU vitamin A, 32 mg magnesium, and 31.1 g carbohydrates.
Selection and Care
What state of ripeness you choose, depends upon how you plan to cook them. Kept at room temperature they will slowly ripen and store for a considerable time. Fully ripe black plantains should be firm, like bananas but not hard. Do not use if they are squishy, moldy, hard or cracked. Do not refrigerate plantains unless they are at the stage you wish to use them, or they will stop ripening. Even when ripe, they will hold for awhile at room temperature.
Use and preparation
Green plantains, which are very hard and starchy, have little banana flavor and no sweetness. They are generally cooked in the same ways as potatoes. They may be boiled or fried or added to soups and stews. Yellow-ripe plantains are more tender but can be used in these same ways, and will have a creamier texture. They can also be mashed, grilled or baked. Black-ripe plantains are also delicious prepared in any of these methods but have a sweeter flavor and a banana aroma. If you wish to peel the plantain before cooking, the way you go about it depends on its stage of ripeness. Black-ripe fruit can usually be peeled as you would a banana. Other fruit is usually washed, the ends trimmed and the fruit cut across in 2 to 4 sections. The very thick, stiff peel is then cut lengthwise along its four ridges. Remove each strip of skin, starting at a corner and pulling slightly crosswise, rather than down. Remove woody fibers, if necessary with a paring knife.