Many food items are directly edible in their green, raw, uncooked or unprocessed states — but in strict moderation, for example, bananas, wheatgrass, cabbage, beetroot and even wild rice; not the common brown or white rice you’re familiar with though, because those pack a punch of toxicity!
Some food items you’ll completely mark off the list for example eggs and marinated fish or meat are also surprisingly edible too.
But what about plantains; the green, the yellow and those bearing a brown to black hue? Exactly where are they on the edibility scale? Cooked or raw?
This article discusses in details whether or not plantains are safe to eat without processing. So let’s proceed.
Can you eat raw plantains?
Raw plantains can be eaten without any complications, but bear in mind that the riper the plantain is, the chewier and better tasting it’ll be.
Green plantains, which are plantains at the first stage of ripeness, are perfectly edible too, only that they bear a characteristic astringency that not many would find appealing– except, maybe, the little percentage of “raw-foodies”.
That’s because the astringency which is due to a high percentage of tannin – a chemical compound present in pulp and peel makes the mouth epithelia go dry, rough and puckered. Basically the feeling as if your mouth is shrinking, but not as worse as the sensation produced from eating unripe cashew!
As for the other two stages, the yellow and black stage of plantains, they are much sweeter and easily tolerable by cells in the mouth.
The texture of the plantains at this stage is soft and creamy, and the taste is reminiscent of banana, but with a little moderation in sweetness. Actually, ripe plantains have a distinct hint of savories compared to bananas, which is one of the main things that set the fine line between these two victuals.
Are there any benefits of eating raw plantains?
Of course there are. Just like raw bananas, green plantains contain a high amount of resistant starch and pectin which may nurture the friendly bacteria within the intestines and increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. This, in turn, may result in a better digestive health.
The resistant starch, which is basically classified as a dietary fiber alongside the pectin may also help control blood sugar levels, especially after meals.
Here are other key benefits you may reap from eating raw plantains.
- Because raw plantains contain bioactive compounds, they may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body.
- Potassium is a mineral compound that is abundant in plantains but sadly deficient in many of the population around the world. Adequate intake of this mineral is suspected to help lower blood pressure and reduce risks of heart disease.
- Raw plantains contain resistant starch, which is a type of dietary fiber. This resistant starch alongside the fiber content of plantains may also play a role in promoting digestive health.
- The high fiber content and resistant starch in plantains can also help promote satiety — the feeling of being full which may help reduce appetite and promote weight loss efforts.
How to eat plantains raw
To eat plantains raw, you should peel them and eat them as you would bananas. If you need to suppress the funky taste and waxy texture, consider adding them as toppings on ice creams or porridge; grate them well, dipping them in chocolates, adding them to fruit salads or desserts or making them a spread on chocolate toasts.
So raw is edible, but what’s the norm?
Plantains are perfectly edible at every stage of their ripeness, but what’s the norm when it comes to working with them?
It’s simply to cook or process them every single time you want to use them.
That’s how the top producing countries of this staple diet such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Myanmar and the Philippines normally eat them, and also, that’s likely how our archaic fathers, people who thrived during the 500 B.C incorporated plantains as a regular part of their diets. Yes, plantains have origins as far back as the 500 B.C, but we’re not going to be discussing that.
If you still want to reinvent the methods of preparing green plantains, you can always go ahead to maul every single portion of the pulp with your teeth, but i bet you’ll spit out the chunks the very moment you bite through.
The taste is simply disagreeable, even more so than a raw potato or taro root. For ripe plantains, ah, those ones are nice to eat raw, but definitely not as sweet as fresh dessert bananas.
Maybe you’re opting to eat plantains raw because you feel there aren’t other ways to prepare them aside frying and boiling, then serving with hot sauce. Well you’re wrong!
You can always make raw plantains into flour (elubo) and turn them into baked goods such as cakes, biscuits, pancakes and quick bread, or, use the flour to make fufu (a.k.a swallow dish) served with decorated sauces or soups.
Plantains can also be made into fritters, or even roasted on a grill or on a red hot charcoal and served with meat kebab, roasted groundnut, roasted peanuts, hot red palm oil, or roasted fish. That’s as good as any quick midday meal can get!
You can also bake plantain in eggs for a delicious take, boil and turn them into pastes for thickening soups such as oha or onugbu (bitter-leaf), or make them scrambled or twice fried into tostones.
In short, there are more than a thousand ways you can put the bunch of plantains on the counter for creative to use. Honestly, it only takes the right inspiration, and boom, you’re the next Bobby Flair of plantain cooking. Perhaps the following dishes might excite your inner creativity?
Quick plantain recipes:
- Plantain bread:
- Plantain mofongo
- Plantain Lasagna
- Plantain puffs:
- Mashed plantains:
- Plantain omellete
- Plantain prridge
- Plantain pies
- Roasted plantain
- Plantain pancakes
Can you eat green bananas?
If you’re concerned about eating raw plantains, and hopefully by now, you know exactly where you belong, you might as well be interested in whether green bananas are safe to eat too.
The answer is a resounding yes! Green bananas are perfectly fine to add to your diet. In fact, they contain some additional nutrients and benefits that you can never really reap with fully ripe bananas, just like with plantains too.
For example, the digestive as well as blood sugar benefits outline in the earlier section can only be enjoyed maximally with unripe fruits as they are the only ones that contain high levels of resistant starch and pectin that offer such benefits.
When you even look up things a little deeper, you’ll find that plantains are actually a variety of bananas – having the same chemical compositions that may vary, in some cases significantly (i.e starch) depending on the stage of ripeness.
Where bananas trade most of their starch cells for sugars, plantains do so only moderately. So the former turns so much sweeter when ripe, or is even much more “sweeter” in it’s green state compared to it’s starch stuffed cousin which taste like potatoes, but times 2!