A Staple Food
The plantain is a staple in the tropical regions of the world, ranking as the tenth most important staple food in the world. As a staple, the plantain is treated in much the same way as the potato. Due to its similar neutral flavor and texture when unripe, the fruit is cooked by steaming, boiling or frying.
Since it will fruit all year round, the plantain is a reliable all-season staple food, particularly in developing countries with inadequate food storage, preservation and transportation technologies. In Africa, plantains and bananas provide more than 25% of food energy requirements for over 70 million people.
Only 15% of global plantain production is used in trade; the rest is consumed domestically in the countries where they are grown. Plantains are the 10th most important staple food feeding the world today.
Where Do Plantains Grow?
The plantain is native to the tropics, the region of the world surrounding the Equator.
Top 10 Plantain Producing Countries
& Growing Conditions
The plantain grows best in moisture-rich, tropical climates. Additionally, it needs protection from strong winds. The tree flowers develop into a bunch, which holds about five to 10 fruits. The plantain does not have a growing season and is, therefore, available year-round. Because the plantain plant produces crops year round and for many
years-- it can produce for up to 100 years – the plantain is a very valuable, reliable food source for many developing countries.
Did You Know?
There are many different ways to consume the plantain – it can be steamed, boiled, grilled, baked or fried. Additionally, the plantain can be used when it is green, when it is yellow or beginning to ripen and when it is black, at its sweetest.
In Kerala, an Indian state, ripe plantain is steamed, to make a popular breakfast dish.
In Nigeria, plantain is eaten boiled, fried or roasted; boli – roasted plantain – is usually eaten with palm oil or groundnut.
CENTRAL AMERICA & CARIBBEAN
In countries in Central America and the Caribbean, such as Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Jamaica, the plantain is either simply fried, boiled or made into plantain soup.
In Guatemala, ripe plantains are eaten boiled, fried, or in a special combination where they are boiled, mashed and then stuffed with sweetened black beans. Afterwards, they are deep fried in sunflower or corn oil. The dish is called rellenitos de plátano and is served as a dessert.
In Ghana of West Africa, boiled plantain is eaten with kontomire stew, cabbage stew or fante-fante (fish) stew. The boiled plantain can be mixed with groundnut paste, pepper, onion and palm oil to make eto, which is eaten with avocado. Ripe plantains, also called plaintiffs, can also be fried and eaten with black eyed beans cooked in palm oil – a popular breakfast dish. Kelewele, a Ghanaian snack, is spiced ripe plantain deep fried in palm oil or vegetable oil.
PUERTO RICO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, AND CUBA
In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, the plantain can also be mashed after it has been fried and be made into a mofongo, or fried and made into tostones, tajadas, or platanutres, or it can be boiled or stuffed. Tostones, also known as patacones are a popular staple in many South American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.