Ever wonder about the differences between bananas and plantains? Which is more nutritional? Tastier? Easier to store? In the bananas vs. plantains debate, you no longer need to wonder.
Everyone loves bananas. According to government data, bananas are the world’s favorite fresh fruit. In the United States alone, each person eats more than 11 pounds of bananas per year. But what really is the difference between the similar-looking fruits?
Epicurious.com sums up the bananas vs. plantains question nicely: “Think of plantains as the sister to the banana. They’re not as sweet, as they contain less sugar. They’re also higher in starch than most fruits, making them perfect for gluten and grain-free breads.”
It would seem as if everyone has a favorite. For Julia Turshen, the award-winning writer and cookbook author of the recently published, “Feed The Resistance”, the choice is a bit difficult: “While I am a big believer in and instead of or, I must say if I had to choose between these two family members, my vote would be plantains. They’re so much more versatile. Whether they’re crisped into tostones, mashed into mofongo, or allowed to ripen until they’re completely black on the outside and then turned into the sweetest pan-fried plantains, I really love any ingredient that gives you so many options at each stage of its life.”
Here’s a quick glance at the difference between bananas and plantains:
Bananas vs. Plantains: Nutrition
- Plantains are not as sweet as bananas and they contain less sugar.
- Plantains are higher in starch.
- Bananas are lower in carbohydrates and a bit higher in fiber, although fiber does not make up a significant amount of either’s nutrients.
- Plantains are higher in calories, but not by too much.
- Both are rich in potassium and vitamins A and C.
- Both are relatively low in vegetable protein and fat.
Bananas vs. Plantains: Taste & Texture
Bananas vs. Plantains: Cooking
- Mix into oats for a creamy banana bread oatmeal
- Blend with cocoa powder and milk for a “chocolate ice cream”
- Stuff them with peanuts and dark chocolate chips and throw them on the grill for a sweet treat
- Banana breads and muffins: vegan blueberry banana muffins, banana nut bread (with a gluten-free option)
- Banana Pancakes using three ingredients (compliments of Jenny Dang)
- Smoothies: Banana Walnut, Chocolate Banana Nut
- Frozen Bananas
- Homemade Dole Whip (a Disney Park fan’s favorite frozen treat)
Before we get too carried away, we can’t forget all the wonderful uses for plantains. It is fair to say that plantains are more popular outside the United States. In fact, plantains are a staple in much of the Caribbean and South and Central Americas, where they often show up in school lunches!
It’s important to serve plantains cooked because of their starchier composition. Some of our favorite plantain recipes include:
- In addition to the fried, sweet recipe above, the basics: chips, oven sweet baked, and fried garlicky
- A favorite outside-the-box recipe: plantain flatbread with poached egg and honey drizzle
- 16 delicious plantain recipes as compiled by Buzzfeed, which includes who-would-have-thunk recipes like plantain hamburger buns and plantain sandwiches.
Bananas vs. Plantains: Storage
That's no bruised banana! ? Meet the 'Grand Daddy' of the fruit family, the plantain. But don't go biting into one of these thinking it will taste the same as it's sweeter cousin – plantains need to be cooked before eating. ? We let ours ripen to the point that dark marks on the outside. This is how we know they have reached the perfect sweetness for our dishes. ?
Caleb Backe notes: “Bananas are quicker to ripen than plantains. If you are not planning on using bananas anytime soon, keep them in the refrigerator. Note that bananas will darken noticeably if kept in the fridge.”
Bananas And Plantains Hacks
If you’re left with a pile of peels, check out this fascinating infographic about 10 Ways to Use Banana Peels To Stamp Out Food Waste.
Finally, a quick note: banana farming has some controversial practices. Please make sure to buy ethically sourced bananas and plantains.