10 Plantain Varieties (Different Types and Varieties)

A bunch of plantain fruit in a Puerto Rican farm.

What are plantains?

Bananas are a common sight in many fruit baskets. Plantains, on the other hand, are less well-known. Because they seem so similar, it’s easy to mix up plantains and bananas. Depending on the state of ripening, plantains are classified as both a vegetable and a fruit. Plantains and bananas both come from the same plant family. Despite their similar appearances, they have vastly diverse flavor characteristics.

The term “plantain” refers to various bananas with a very distinct flavor profile and culinary use than the common sweet, yellow banana. Plantains, like bananas, are native to Southeast Asia. They are currently grown all throughout the world, especially in India, Egypt, Indonesia, and the Americas’ tropical regions. Plantains are often bigger, harder, and have thicker skin than bananas. They can be green, yellow, or deep brown in color.

Plantains are starchy, rough, and lack flavor. Most plantains need to be cooked before consumption because they are unpleasant to eat uncooked.

Health benefits of plantains

Plantains are a high-carbohydrate snack that’s also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Antioxidants are also included, which help in fighting free radicals. They can also help with immune system functions with their levels of vitamin C. Their vitamin B6 level may also aid in lowering cardiovascular risk and improving mood.

They are rich in antioxidants

Some studies claim Plantains naturally contain healthy plant elements such as polyphenols and flavonoids. These chemicals are antioxidants that aid in the battle against free radicals. In the body, free radicals generate oxidative stress and damage.

They help support the immune system

Plantains are high in vitamin C, and having them in a well-balanced diet can support the immune system.

On the other hand, heat and light can degrade vitamin C. As a result, while cooking plantains, use as little non-boiling water as possible and cook them for only a few minutes.

May lower blood pressure

Potassium is necessary for the heart, nerves, and muscles to operate properly. It aids in the digestion of carbohydrates and the production of protein. Potassium is abundant in plantains. Including them in your diet may help you maintain healthy sodium and potassium balance in your body.

Healthy heart and mind

They are high in vitamin B6, which is beneficial to the heart and mind. Vitamin B6 is involved in a wide range of functions in the body.

It is necessary for the metabolism of macronutrients, the formation of healthy red blood cells, and the production of neurotransmitters. Just one cup of plantain provides 17 percent of a person’s daily required vitamin B6 intake.

Different types and varieties of Plantains

French and Horn’s plantains are the two most common types. Each variety has subgroups based on size or growth style. Some varieties of plantains are:

Nendran Banana

Also known as Nenthra Pazham, they are a staple meal in Kerala and can be found in huge amounts there. These plantains are large, meaty, and pale yellow. Nendran bananas are frequently used in cooking. Banana chips or crisps are the most popular snack, where the plantains are thinly sliced and deep-fried in coconut oil.

Saba

Saba banana - A variety of plantain.

Originated from the Philippines, the Saba plantains are primarily used for cooking, although they can also be consumed raw. In Philippine cuisine, it is one of the most important banana kinds. They are typically smaller than other Central and South American bananas.

Ash Plantain

Ash plantain along with plantain flowers.

Ash plantain is a Sri Lankan type of plantain that can be made into a curry. They are thick-skinned and can be cooked to consume. What does it taste like? They have a similar flavor to any starchy vegetable; however, they are softer than potatoes.

African Rhino Horn plantains

The African Rhino Horn plantain produces edible, sharply curved, and elongated bananas, growing to a length of two feet, one of the longest fruits among plantain varieties and weighing up to two pounds each. Their leaves and pseudostems are covered in red spots.

Bananas from the Rhino Horn family can be eaten either raw or cooked. Because of their appealing coloring, they are popularly grown as decorative plants.

Ilhona Lele

The apex of the fruit is usually long and pointy, with pronounced wrinkles. Both ends of the medium-long (13-15 cm) fruits are tapered. The pulp is salmon-pink in color.

Gerei Langi

On the Solomon Islands’ island of Guadalcanal, Iholena banana is known as ‘Gerei Langi.’ ‘Kolale’ is another name for it.

Dwarf Iholena

The Dwarf Iholena fruit grows in a compact, stocky bunch with short, wide leaves.  It is eaten fresh as a dessert banana in Hawaii and is also used for cooking when ripe.

Pisang Tanduk

Pisang Tanduk bananas are long and curved, with a diameter of around 5-8 centimetres. The thick peel of the horn-shaped fruit is green when immature and yellow when ripe. The interior flesh has a semi-firm texture and is yellow to cream in hue. Pisang Tanduk bananas are slightly sour when young, but they mature and become creamy and sweet when cooked.

Because they are available all year, they are a staple in Malaysian cuisine. The Pisang Tanduk plantains are best suited for applications such as frying, boiling, baking, and steaming.

Popoulu

Popoulu plantains are native to the Pacific. The fruits are plump, square-ended, and have a noticeable diameter. The majority of fruits are 2-3 times longer than they are wide. This type is unique in the way that their fruits cannot be eaten after they are ripe. Their raw plantains are used to make chips and can also be cooked into curries and other cuisines.

Batard

Batard is a popular plantain variety in Cameroon. They are very nutritious and could contain up to a third of an adult’s daily vitamin A requirement!

Final thoughts

Plantains are common in tropical countries, which grow many different types of these cooking bananas. Plantains are generally more starchy and a bit drier than normal household bananas.

Hopefully, this article helped you learn about a few different types of plantains and how plantains can be beneficial to your health.

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