Stop Removing The Skin From Green Plantains Before You Cook Them

As the darling of the African diaspora, plantains are enjoyed in dishes from African, Caribbean, and Latin cultures alike. Fried plantains are eaten with both jollof rice and rice and peas. They can also be baked whole or slivered and fried to make crunchy chips. While the fruit is often eaten when ripe, you can also cook it when it's green — just make sure to keep the skin on.

When cooking fried plantains with ripe fruit, peeling off the skin is easy. It glides off just like a banana's peel would. But, with green plantains, things are a bit trickier. The skin is much harder and seemingly adheres to the fruit encased within. The best option is to save yourself the trouble altogether and either roast the fruit whole or chop the plantain into a few pieces and cook it as is.

After around 15 minutes of simmering in salted water, the plantains' skins will be soft enough to easily peel off. Check the texture of the fruits' skin with a fork to see if it's easily punctured — if so, they're soft enough to be taken off the stove.

Keep the skin on when making these plantain recipes

While some green plantain dishes, such as tostones, require you to remove the fruits' skins, you can keep them on for other recipes. For example, grilled plantains taste incredible alongside spicy stews and salsas. Although they're typically ripe when grilled, you can bring more sweetness to starchy green plantains by adding mango or pineapple salsa. Since they also take longer to cook, you can slice them into three or four pieces to speed things up.

If you don't have a grill, you can roast the plantains in the oven at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke holes in the skin to allow heat to escape, similar to how you'd prep a potato for baking. You can also run a knife along the length of the plantain. If the skin is too firm to pierce through, steam it for a few minutes to soften it up before placing it in the oven.

With certain dishes, you can eat the plantain peels rather than discarding them after cooking. Instead of using the store-bought flour variety, make your own tortillas using green plantains. Simply chop them into small pieces and blend them with plenty of water until the mixture is smooth. Then, scoop the dough onto parchment paper, spread it into circles, and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for less than 10 minutes. As a bonus, plantain peels are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals and also act as a natural antacid.