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5 Ways to Use Overripe Plantains


If you buy plantains regularly, it's inevitable that you will eventually find yourself with an overripe plantain dilemma: what to do with the plantains that are too ripe even for maduros?

Fortunately, overripe plantains open up a whole new range of possibilities for this member of the banana family. In fact, you can take almost any recipe that features overripe bananas and replace the bananas with plantains. Often, the resulting dish is even better than the original– the sugar content of plantains is lower than bananas, so the cloying sweetness that can sometimes cling to a bread, batida, or budin made with banana is absent when the cook substitutes plantains. We've been testing plantains-for-bananas in some favorite recipes that feature overripe bananas, here are our favorites.

Plantain Bread or Muffins

Banana bread... it's the classic “What do I do with these overripe bananas?” recipe. Whether made in time for breakfast to serve with cafe con leche or baked as a dessert and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and dusted with a little cinnamon, banana bread is quick and easy to prepare and makes for a versatile any-time-of-day snack.

Take your favorite classic banana bread recipe and modify it just a bit. Two overripe plantains will yield one large or two small loaf pans of bread. If your recipe doesn't already call for it, we've found a dash of nutmeg, another of cinnamon, and a small splash of vanilla extract really bumps up the flavor. To cut down on cooking time or making portion control versions, bake off your batter in a muffin pan.

Cream of Plantain Puree

There aren't nearly as many good recipes for a silky, sweet, crema de platano as you might think, though the preparation is simple, the basic dish can bear lots of improvisation, and the result is a satisfying comfort food for kids and adults alike.

For our crema, we took Maricel Presilla's sweet ripe plantain puree recipe, in her epic, award-winning cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina, as our point of departure. If you choose, you can experiment with this recipe by substituting coconut milk for the chicken broth. The crema is best served in small portions as an appetizer.

If you want to turn the crema into a pureé that's perfect for a baby who's just starting solid foods, tone down the spices a bit (but don't eliminate them completely) and make sure the puree is processed well enough so that the crema doesn't have chunks of plantain, garlic, or bacon that the baby can neither chew nor digest.

Next, three more ways to use up overripe plantains...

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