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TIP OF THE DAY: Plantains

If you’ve never cooked with plantains before, today—Cinco de Mayo—is the day to try it.

While yellow-brown, brown and black plantains can be peeled like a banana, it is much more difficult to peel a green or yellow plantain.

Instead, take a paring knife, slice off the ends of the plantain and slit the skin lengthwise. If the plantain is very long, you can cut it in half or in thirds before you slit the skin.

Then, simply slide your thumbnail under the slit and pry off the skin.

What to do with your plantains?

If you like French fries and fried zucchini, make fried plantains.

1. Cut firm, ripe plantains (yellow with a bit of mottling) into 1/8″ slices.
2. Add vegetable oil 1-1/2 inches deep in a large skillet and heat to 375°F.
3. Fry plantains for 1 minute or more on each side until golden and crisp on the outside but soft on the inside, for a total of 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
4. Season with sea salt and/or pepper, garlic salt, chipotle, grated cheese or other favorite seasonings. You can serve them with ketchup or other condiments.

 

The trick to peeling plantains. Photo and
peeling tip courtesy Melissas.com.

 

Plantains are a staple in many areas of the world. They are the same genus (Musa) as sweet bananas, called dessert bananas, while plantains are referred to as cooking bananas. Plantains are more firm and lower in sugar, and thus ready to be steamed, boiled or fried. Dessert bananas are eaten raw and made into desserts such as ice cream, pie and sautéed bananas (like Bananas Foster). The distinction is purely arbitrary.

Although they look like trees, banana and plantain plants do not have a woody trunk. Their base is made of huge leaf stalks, so they are technically giant herbs.

  





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