How many of you know the different members of the banana family?
The banana is the best known fruit of the tropics and the most widely eaten. The Caribbeans are home to scores of banana varieties, ranging from the small and plump lady’s finger banana with delicate thin skins to the long, crescent-moon shaped banana with its thick protective skin. Both the fruit, leaf, flower and stalk of the banana tree are used widely in Caribbean cooking all year round. The fruit can be smoked, grilled, fried or boiled in syrups to be eaten as a dessert. Deep-fried battered bananas are a common street vendor treat — look for the huge silver vats of oil they are cooked in and snap some up while they are still hot and crispy. The crimson banana flower is used as a vegetable, often in tangy salads, while banana leaves are used to wrap foods prior to steaming or simply to take home from the market.
Plantains are a member of the banana family. They are a starchy, low in sugar variety that is cooked before serving as it is unsuitable raw. It is used in many savory dishes like a potato would be used and is very popular in the Caribbean countries. It is usually fried, boiled or baked.
Plantains are grown most widely in tropical climates. Plantains are sometimes referred to as the pasta and potatoes of the Caribbean. Sold in the fresh produce section of any Latin or Asian supermarket. They usually resemble green bananas but ripe plantains may be black in color. 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 Nutritional & Facts:
- High in vitamins A & C
- High in dietary fiber
- High in carbohydrates
- Good source of Potassium
- Energy Booster
- Highly nutritious
- Used as a vegetable
- Thicker in skin than a banana
- Longer than a banana
- Resemble green bananas, but may be yellow or black when ripe