Can you tell the difference between plantains and green bananas?
Did you know that all plantains are bananas but not all bananas are plantains?
Plantains are part of the banana family. They are more starchy and have less sugar compared to bananas. Due to the high starch content plantains are usually cooked before eating. Whether ripe or unripe there are many ways to prepare them.
Green bananas or matoke as we call them here in Kenya are mainly used to make a banana curry (matoke). They are also good in making matope chips.
Unripe green bananas when left to ripen result in ripe bananas which are very sweet. Ripe bananas can be enjoyed as a healthy snack on the go or used in a myriad of recipes; pancakes, bread, ice cream etc
Now the main physical difference between plantains and greens bananas is that plantains have narrow and elongated ends that seem pointy. Whereas green bananas have short, rounded ends.
Also when it comes to the peel the plantains have thicker skin which as they ripen thins out.
Peeling plantain is rather easy, you snip off the ends, make a slit along the length of the plantain then using your hands remove the peels.
For green bananas, one needs to run the knife underneath the peel to remove. Green bananas also have a sap that stains the hands and knife, I’ve found applying come cooking oil before handling prevents this. You can also cook with the peels and remove later.
A quick and easy way to enjoy either plantains or green bananas is by frying them. You can choose to shallow or deep fry. Baking is also an option.
The green plantain is twice fried to make tostones (popular in Latin America and Caribbean cuisine). One fries some green plantains rounds, then smashes them with a heavy bottomed glass then fries them again.
The ripe plantains are the perfect side for savoury dishes as the sweetness of the plantains contrast curries beautifully.
Matoke chips are also a lovely snack to make using green bananas. Lovely substitute for fries.
There you have it, how to tell plantains from green bananas.
In Nairobi and its environs here are the few places you are likely to get plantains.
- Ngara market
- City park market
- Zucchini Grocers
- Quickmart (I usually buy from the Ruiru one)
- ShopRite (I’ve ever bought from the Garden City one)
If you can, get from the market, they tend to have better pricing than the stores.