Plantains, cousin to bananas and belonging to the same family, can easily be mistaken for bananas. Looking like large bananas, plantains are tropical fruits and commonly used in many traditional Asian, African and Caribbean recipes.
They can be green or yellow and sometimes black, if they are very ripe. Like bananas, they also come in bunches. Plantains taste starchy and bland, somewhat like potatoes. However, depending on how you cook them, they can absorb a variety of flavours and acquire much taste.
Plantains are typically available year-round. If you land up with a large bunch of plantains, which are more than you can use immediately, you may be wondering that can you freeze plantains? The answer is yes, plantains freeze well.
How Should You Prepare Your Plantains for Freezing?
If you are short of time and need the task done at the earliest, you can freeze plantain as such. However, depending on what recipe you plan to make later, you may need to thaw and prep the plantain later. This can be tricky because thawed plantain can get mushy.
It is best to peel and slice your plantain before freezing. This is more work before hand, but when you want to cook them, they are ready-to-go. Slice your ripe or unripe plantain the way you plan to use them later, for instance you could cut halves, make pieces, chop plantain slices or slice them however you plan to serve them.
While peeling ripe yellow plantain is a breeze, peeling unripe plantain can be tricky. If plantain is raw, cut off the heads and then slit the peel. The peel should then open up on both ends and come off the plantain.
You can also mash and freeze plantain to make a mashed plantain recipe later. This works well with overripe plantain.
Finally, store it with plastic wrap, in a freezer bag or in an airtight container. Remember to label the freezer bag or airtight container with the date of freezing to keep track of how long your plantain has been frozen.
Another option is that if you have fresh plantain and you have the time, you can first cook it and then freeze cooked plantains.
What Are Tips to Be Followed While Freezing Plantains?
Here are a few tips to make freezing plantains easier for you:
- Rubbing lemon juice on plantain slices or placing them in salted water slows down bruising. This is especially helpful if you don’t like black plantains.
- Removing the peel of green plantains under cold tap water reduces staining of hands.
- To store plantains, freeze in small portions, so you don’t have excess plantain that is turning black.
How Do You Defrost Plantains?
To defrost frozen plantain, you can leave it in the fridge overnight. However, you may find that they bruise a little after thawing. An airtight container or bag should reduce bruising.
If you need the frozen plantains sooner, thaw them on the kitchen counter for a few hours. You may find that thawed plantains become mushy. Placing them on paper towel can help absorb the extra liquid.
Alternately, cook from frozen. This is the least messy method and this is why prepping and slicing your plantain before freezing is one of the best methods to store it.
Finally, remember that after defrosting, it is best you don’t freeze the plantain again.
What Can You Do With Frozen Plantains?
While bananas are typically eaten without cooking, plantains need to be cooked to be ingested.
They are highly versatile like potato and sweet potato. They can be cooked or prepared in a number of different ways- you can boil, fry, grill, bake or steam them.
Frozen plantain lend themselves very well to snacks like tostones, fried plantain strips, fried sweet plantains and banana chips. In Latin America, plantains are eaten as Maduro, which are fried sweet plantains.
Frozen overripe plantain can be caramelized or baked like banana bread to enjoy as a dessert.
If you froze mashed plantain, you can prepare sandwiches with it or mash it with salt, garlic and bacon as a side dish.
How Do You Cook Frozen Plantains?
Since raw plantains are not very sweet to taste, plantains are used more like a vegetable.
If you froze ripe plantains, you can cook them from frozen with their peels on. Just brush them with butter, salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees until you get a nice golden brown colour, usually around 45 minutes. Baked plantain tastes great and is easy to make.
If you sliced or chopped the plantain before freezing, you can make a number of dishes like Maduros, Tostones, fried chips, plantain fufu, plantain salad etc by cooking the plantain slices from frozen.
Alternately, you can thaw frozen plantain and then use it for recipes that require mashed plantain.
Can You Cook Frozen Plantains in Air Fryer?
Yes, you can certainly cook frozen plantains in an air fryer. Just preheat the air fryer, pull out your frozen plantains (preferably already sliced). Spray some olive oil or canola oil on them, season with salt, pepper and your favourite spices and throw them into the air fryer. You can also heat oil in a pan and put your frozen sliced plantains directly into the pan.
A popular air fryer recipe prepared with plantains is tostones. These are peeled, sliced and fried plantain chips. While they are traditionally deep fried in oil on a pan, you can make a healthier version in the air fryer, since the air fryer requires use of lesser oil.
How Long Does Plantain Last in Freezer?
Plantain freezes well for upto 6 months. Beyond that, they can bruise and turn color. Labeling your freezer bag with the date of freezing helps keep track so that you can use the frozen plantain before six months are up.
How Do You Preserve Ripe Plantains Without a Freezer?
If you do not have a freezer or prefer not to freeze plantain, raw plantains can be kept on your counter for a few days. It is best to keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent bruising.
You can also keep ripe plantain in the fridge for upto a week.
Can You Put Ripe Plantains in the Freezer?
Whether your plantains are unripe or ripe, you can put them in the freezer.
Ripe plantains can be easily peeled and sliced. You can prep them depending on how you will be cooking them and then freeze them in portions.
Ripe plantains are also sweeter than raw plantains and will lend themselves well to dessert preparations.
What Does Unripe Plantain Give to the Body?
Like a banana, if you see a green plantain, you know it is the unripe version of the fruit. So can a green plantain be eaten or do you need to ripen it first?
Unripe plantain actually have lesser sugar in them than ripe plantain, the same way ripe banana is sweeter than raw banana. Unripe plantain are nutrient-rich, high-fiber, low energy density and have fewer calories per gram of food.
Since they are high in fiber, they make you feel fuller without spiking your blood sugar levels.
However, keep in mind that unripe plantain does need to be cooked before eating.
The Final Word
Freezing plantains is a perfect way to preserve them for quick use later. Frozen plantain lends itself very well to preparation of snacks or even a dish with dinner. Whether you choose to bake, steam or fry them, all you need to do is pull them out of the freezer and get them ready for your favourite plantain recipe.