Plantains are a member of the banana family. It is used in many savory dishes somewhat like a potato would be used, is very popular in the Caribbean countries and in Western Africa. This vegetable-banana can be eaten and tastes different at every stage of development.
” The plantain (pronounced [plæntɪn] or [plæntɛɪn]) is a species of the genus Musa and is generally used for cooking, in contrast to the soft, sweet banana (which is sometimes called the dessert banana). 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. Sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, they usually resemble green bananas but ripe plantains may be black in color
Photo: Left! Ripe cooking plantain….. right: regular banana. Note the difference between the colors!!!
The population of North America was first introduced to the banana plantain, and colloquially in the United States and Europe the term “banana” refers to that variety. The word “banana” is often used incorrectly to describe other plantain varieties as well, when in fact the generic name is “plantain” and the specific varieties are cooking plantain, banana plantain, bocadillo plantain (the little one), etc. All members of the genus Musa are indigenous to the tropical region of Southeast Asia, including the Malay Archipelago and northern Australia.
Photo: Bananas are easily peeled by hand…. plantains require a knife since its skin is tougher
Plantains tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas and are used either when green or under-ripe (and therefore starchy) or overripe (and therefore sweet). Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when unripe. They are grown as far north as Florida, the Caribbean and Central America, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Egypt, and southern Japan or Taiwan and as far south as KwaZulu-Natal and southern Brazil. The largest exporter of plantains to the United States is Colombia.
photo: Left! banana…. right: ripe cooking plantain
The common plantain species Musa paradisiaca, has many varieties. Bananas (or sapientum) are a sub-species of plantains, and were formerly regarded as a separate species. Bananas are eaten raw, while plantains require cooking. The species is likely native of India and Southern Asia. It is assumed that the Portuguese Franciscan friars were responsible for the introduction of plantains to the Caribbean islands and other parts of the Americas. The Spaniards, who saw a similarity to the plane tree that grows in Spain, gave the plantain its Spanish name, plátano. ”