We’ve all had those moments of madness at the grocery store, coming home with far more of a certain product than we intended!
But while fresh fruits such as plantains can easily be stored in the pantry for a week or two, how do you save them to enjoy at a later date?
Can you freeze plantains? Freezing is a great way to preserve both raw and cooked plantains that won’t be consumed straight away. However, it is essential to reduce exposure to moisture and air to ensure there are no changes to the texture or flavor — for best results, plantains should be peeled and sliced before freezing.
Freezing is a great way to store plantains, but it needs to be done correctly to preserve them in the best possible condition.
If you’ve got a load of ripe plantains that are getting past their best, read on to find out the best way to preserve them for longer!
What Are Plantains?
It would be very easy to mistake a plantain for a banana, as the two look very similar! They do belong to the same family of plants, but are used in very different ways.
Plantains are actually a type of fruit, but they are used as if they are a vegetable. They are not as sweet as bananas and have a very starchy texture. Although they can be eaten raw, they generally are cooked before being consumed.
Plantains are hugely popular in a variety of cuisines, particularly in the Caribbean, Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.
The unusual thing about plantains is that they can be cooked and eaten before they are ripe.
At this stage, the unripe plantain fruit is hard, greeny-yellow, and starchy, and will stand up well to cooking methods such as boiling and frying.
As the plantain ripens, it becomes sweeter and changes color to deep yellow and then black. Ripe plantains are commonly baked in their skins, very much like a baked potato.
In fact, it is easier to think of plantains as more similar to sweet potatoes than bananas! They can be cooked using the same methods, and are commonly mashed, boiled, steamed, or grilled.
The texture of cooked plantains is dense and starchy, and they take on other flavors and sauces well. Roast plantains served with a pat of butter and a twist of freshly ground salt and pepper are a culinary delicacy that everyone should try!
Can You Really Freeze Plantains?
The thing with plantains is that a little bit goes a long way! These versatile fruits are normally sold in bunches, but this is normally enough to keep you supplied with plantains for several weeks.
This fruit is normally cooked and served as a side dish or as part of the main meal. It is incredibly filling due to the high carbohydrate content, so a portion of plantain can be quite small.
Plantains store relatively well, and will slowly ripen at room temperature over a week or two. However, eventually, they will become overripe, with a mushy texture.
To prevent this from happening, is freezing plantains a good choice?
The great news is that yes, you can freeze plantains! By following just a few simple steps, you can have frozen plantains ready to use in your freezer at any time.
There are various options available as to the best way to freeze plantains, depending on the ripeness of the fruit and whether they have been cooked or not.
Unlike many fruits, plantains retain their flavor and texture well when frozen. However, they are slightly susceptible to freezer burn (like many fruits), so care needs to be taken to protect them from air and moisture.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to freeze plantains to keep these delicious and versatile fruits in the best possible condition!
Can You Freeze Unripe Plantains?
Green, unripe plantains can be frozen, but they will need some careful preparation first.
Freezing unripe plantains is a great option if you prefer to eat these fruits before they become fully ripe. They will be preserved just as they are, keeping their dense starchy texture and great flavor.
The problem with freezing unripe plantains lies in peeling them first — these fruits are notoriously difficult to peel before they are ripe!
The secret to peeling unripe plantains lies in scoring the skin of the fruit downwards several times around the outside of the fruit. The top and bottom are then cut off, and the peel is pulled away in sections from the outside of the fruit.
You will then be left with the raw fruit underneath, which can be chopped and frozen in just the same way as ripe plantain.
Remember to flash-freeze the fruit in batches on a baking tray first, before transferring them to an airtight bag or container.
This stops the pieces of plantain from sticking together, making it easier to take just the right amount from the freezer when you want to use it.
Can You Freeze Ripe Plantains?
Freezing ripe plantains is a great option if you want to preserve these fruits for longer. More of us are turning to the freezer as a way to reduce food waste, which also means we have a wider range of ingredients available to us at all times!
Here is how to freeze cut ripe plantains:
- Peel the fruit, then cut it into smaller pieces. This can be halves, chunks, rounds, or chips; whatever method you normally use to prepare them for cooking.
- Place the pieces of plantain on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are in a single layer and they do not touch each other.
- Put the tray in the freezer for around two hours, until the fruit is frozen solid.
- Transfer the frozen plantain chunks to a ziplock freezer bag, expelling as much air as possible.
- Label the bag with the contents and the date, then return it to the freezer.
If you like to roast whole plantains in the oven, you can also freeze your plantains whole for future roasting without peeling or chopping them first!
Here is how to freeze whole ripe plantains:
- Simply separate the fruits from the bunch, and lay them on a baking tray in the freezer until they are frozen solid.
- Then transfer them to a bag or airtight container, ready for you to use next time you are in the mood for a delicious roast plantain with your dinner.
Can You Freeze Cooked Plantains?
One of the joys of plantains is the wide range of cooking methods that can be used — these fruits are incredibly versatile and can be baked, mashed, grilled, fried, boiled, steamed, or roasted. We’re huge fans of maduros!
Luckily, no matter what cooking method you use, cooked plantains store really well in the freezer!
Depending on the cooking method used, cooked plantains can be stored for up to 12 months in the freezer without any deterioration in taste or texture.
Mashed plantain stores particularly well, and this is a great method to preserve this popular side dish for longer. You can also easily freeze fried plantain, whether it’s sliced lengthwise or across.
Whatever method you have used to cook your plantains, the vital thing to remember is that air and moisture will quickly lead to freezer burn.
This means that your cooked plantains should be stored in an airtight bag or container to keep them at their best.
How Long Can Plantains Stay Frozen?
As plantains are a fruit with relatively high moisture content, they do not have a long shelf life when stored in the freezer.
Over time, plantain may begin to lose flavor in the freezer, and it is highly susceptible to freezer burn. Freezer burn is a particular problem when freezing any fruits and vegetables, as it will make the texture tough and leathery.
As a rule of thumb, the larger the pieces of plantain, the longer they can be stored in the freezer.
So, whole unpeeled plantains can be frozen for up to 12 months, whereas small cubes of plantain may start to deteriorate after just 3 months.
How To Defrost Frozen Plantains
The joy of storing plantains in the freezer is that they can be cooked when frozen! Simply take as much as you need from the freezer and cook it using your normal methods.
However, this will extend the cooking time, so you may prefer to defrost the plantains first.
The best way to defrost frozen plantains is overnight in the refrigerator.
If you’ve diced your plantains before freezing them, you can take out just enough for your recipe, and leave the remainder in the freezer for another day.
Take the plantain chunks from the freezer and place them inside an airtight container — this will help prevent them from absorbing other flavors and odors from the fridge.
Leave the container in the fridge overnight, until the fruit is fully thawed.
If you are in a rush, plantains can also be defrosted at room temperature or in a warm water bath.
Never defrost frozen plantains in the microwave — the high water content means they will start to cook on the outside before the center is fully thawed.