How to preserve ripe plantains

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve ripe plantains” and discuss the different methods of preserving ripe plantains.

How to preserve ripe plantains

Ripe plantains can be preserved by refrigeration, freezing and dehydration.

Plantains are often mistaken to have the same quality and taste as bananas but they are very different from bananas. Plantains are starchy with a low content of sugar and they cannot be eaten raw. Plantains are very versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Plantains can be baked, fried, cooked or sauteed. 

Plantain has a diversity of minerals like calcium, iron and iodine, but notably high in potassium and low in sodium. This makes it suitable for the control of blood pressure and muscle cramp. There are significantly high levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium in fully ripe plantain pulp, but low levels of Fe, Cu, Zn, and Na. Plantains are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and C, thus, it is often recommended for people who are intolerant to salt (1).

Ripe and unripe plantains can be used interchangeably in dishes but ripe plantains will cook faster.

Plantains will ripen quickly at room temperature and once ripe, they will spoil easily. So it is necessary to use proper methods to preserve them.

How to refrigerate ripe plantains for preservation

When stored in a refrigerator, ripe plantains will last for about a week. Make sure not to refrigerate the plantains until they are completely ripe, as it will stop the ripening process and alter the taste of the plantains. Unripe plantains must be kept at temperatures above 12°C or 55 °F to ripen. When stored at lower temperatures, they can suffer chilling injury (2).

How to freeze ripe plantains for preservation

Freezing is the simplest method to preserve ripe plantains. Plantains can be frozen in pieces or mashed or deep-fried. Plantains make excellent frozen products if cooked before freezing. Cooked plantains may be kept frozen, peeled or in their skins for 6-9 months at 0°F (3). If they are frozen raw, they will lose texture. Blanching prior to freezing can reduce the vitamin C loss and reduce texture and color changes due to freezing (4).

To freeze cut-up pieces of raw ripe plantains :

  • Wash and then peel the plantains.
  • Cut the peeled plantains. Plantains can be cut into big pieces, dices, or they can even be grated.
  • Blanching: imerse cut plantain in boiling water for 3 min and cool completely with for 3 min to remove excess heat from the material, then drain using al mesh
  • Place the cut plantains in ziplock bags and squeeze out the air. 
  • Seal the bags, label and place in the freezer.

Frozen cooked or baked plantain (3):

  • Leave plantains in their skins. Wash and place in a baking pan or on aluminum foil in the oven. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, or until plantains are partially cooked. Alternatively, cook for 10 minutes in boiling water. Skins will turn black. 
  • Remove plantains from the oven (or the boiling water), air cool, package in aluminum foil in sufficient amounts for one meal, allowing one plantain per person, or remove skins from partially baked plantain and place in waxed rectangular cartons. 
  • To reheat, place frozen in the oven, loosen foil or cellophane wrapper, and reheat on wrapper or remove wrapper and heat in a baking dish.

Peeled plantains may be seasoned with butter and brown sugar, or citrus juice, and baked in the oven or sauteed on top of the stove. When thoroughly reheated, plantains will be completely cooked.

Ripe plantains can be deep-fried before freezing.

To freeze deep-fried ripe plantains:

  • Peel and slice the plantains. Water or steam blanching can reduce browning as the phenolase enzyme responsible for browning are inactivated due to heat treatment (2)
  • Heat some oil in a pan. Soya bean or coconut oil can be used.
  • Add the sliced plantains to the oil and fry until they are golden brown.
  • Drain the excess oil by placing them on paper towels.
  • Allow the fried plantains to cool down to room temperature.
  • Place the fried plantains in ziplock bags, squeeze out the air, label and freeze.

The storage period of fried plantain can be up to 147 days by storing chips away from light, preferably in dark polyethylene packs at about 25°C (2).

Plantains can also be mashed with lemon juice to make mashed plantains which are then frozen until needed. To make mashed plantains :

  • Clean, peel and cut the plantains
  • Place the plantains in a bowl.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for every plantain in the mixture. The acidity of the lemon juice will prevent the browning of the exposed areas of the plantains.
  • Mash the plantain and lemon juice mixture with a potato masher or a hand mixer.
  • Transfer into an airtight container and place in the freezer.

Frozen plantains can be stored without much change in texture and flavor for about 3 months. After 3 months the plantains may start losing flavor or discolor.

It is best to cook frozen plantains directly after removing them from the freezer. Thawing frozen plantains will alter their texture (3).

How to dehydrate ripe plantains for preservation

Ripe plantains can be dehydrated to make either plantain chips or plantain flour.

Dehydrated plantain chips can be made with both ripe and unripe plantains. Ripe plantains will add a sweet flavor to the chips. When making plantain chips, salt and some spices such as cinnamon or cardamom can be added to enhance the flavor.

To make dehydrate ripe plantain chips :

  • Clean, peel and slice yellow, ripe plantains. Water or steam blanching can reduce browning as the phenolase enzyme responsible for browning are inactivated due to heat treatment (2)
  • Arrange the slices in the dehydrator tray.
  • Sprinkle salt and spices as needed.
  • Dehydrate until the chips are dry. The dehydration time depends on the ripeness and thickness of the plantain slices. Ripe plantains dehydrate slower than unripe ones. It would take roughly 2-4 hours.
  • After dehydration, place in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
  • The dehydrated chips can be enjoyed as a healthy snack by itself or by adding a healthy dip.

Drying of the blanched banana chips may take longer time due to the presence of pregelatinized starch with higher water retention capacity. Vitamin C degradation due to thermal processing may be reduced by dipping the banana slices in sodium metabisulphite solution (2).

Choosing the best ripe plantains for preservation

Regardless of the preservation method, the ripe plantains must be purchased in good condition. Things to look out for when choosing ripe plantains include :

  • Color: Ripe plantains must be yellow with black spotting. More black spotting indicates that the plantains are very ripe.
  • Texture: Ripe plantains must be soft with thinner skin than unripe plantains. Ripe plantains must be easier to peel than unripe plantains.

Shelf-life of preserved ripe plantains

The shelf-life of ripe plantains depends on the preservation method used.

  • Refrigeration: Ripe, raw plantains can be preserved for a maximum of one week in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing: Maximum shelf-life of 1 year, but there will be changes in flavor and texture after 3 months. Baked or boiled in skin plantains can be stored for 6-9 months (4).
  • Dehydration: 4 months without any additional preservatives. Up to one year when stored in a freezer.

Other FAQs about Plantains that you may be interested in.

How to preserve unripe plantains

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve ripe plantains” and discussed the different methods used to preserve ripe plantains. We also looked at the shelf lives of different preservation methods and how to choose the best ripe plantains for preservation.

If you have any comments, please let us know.

References

  1. Ezeigbo, O. R., and C. Ezeigbo. Comparative Analysis of the Nutritional Content of Ripe and Unripe Plantain (Musa paradisiaca) obtained from Nigeria. UPI J Chem Life Sci, 2018, 1-14.
  2. Mohapatra, Debabandya, et al. Post-harvest processing of banana: opportunities and challenges. Food bioproc technol, 2011, 4, 327-339.
  3. Mahendran, T., and K. Prasannath. Influence of pre-treatments on quality of dehydrated ripe banana (Musa acuminata cv. Embul). J food agri, 2010,1.
  4. Fenton, Faith, and Carey D. Miller. Home freezing in Hawaii: Fruits, vegetables meats, Poultry, Game and Fish. University of Hawaii Foods and Nutrition Department, Agriculture Experiment Station, Honolulu, 1950.

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.