They look an awful lot alike. So, are Plantains and Bananas the Same Thing or are they Distant Relatives?
The Short Answer:
No, Plantains and Bananas are related but differ from one another in many ways.
The Long Answer:
Have you ever reached for a bunch of green bananas at the market only to realize upon picking them up that they’re not bananas at all? They’re plantains.
Plantains look like longer green bananas with thicker peels, but they are most assuredly not bananas. If you’ve ever eaten a plantain this should come as no shock. Bananas are sweet (and gluten-free). They’re typically eaten raw with breakfast or as a snack. Plantains, on the other hand, are rarely ever eaten raw. They are a staple of many traditional Cuban dishes that usually see them fried like one would a piece of meat or an eggplant.
Oftentimes you’ll see rice, beans, and fried plantains served together for a fantastic traditional savory dish. That’s certainly not a place one thinks to find a banana.
Speaking from a flavor standpoint, plantains are closer to potatoes than they are to bananas. And a ripe plantain will appear green, while ripe bananas are yellow. If you see a plantain turning yellow that means it’s beginning to overripen and will soon become black, much like a banana. So why would a ripe banana be yellow, and a ripe plantain be green? That has a lot to do with sugar content. A plantain has much less sugar than a banana, which keeps its green coloring.
Both of these fruits are members of the same family, which is why they look so much alike. Think of a plantain as a starchy distant cousin of the banana. That starch content is why you don’t often see plantains being peeled and eaten raw. They’re usually treated more like vegetables when used in cooking but they are most assuredly fruits.
Plantains are native to the Caribbean and India.
Do you love fried plantains? Have you ever tried adding cheese to them? What’s your favorite use of plantains? Let us know!