Plantains are a staple in many western cultures. They are easy to grow and the plants require minimal maintenance. Ripe plantains are extremely versatile. They can be eaten raw, fried or cooked in a variety of ways and can even be made into delicious smoothies.
Plantains grow in bunches, and are generally reaped as soon as a few on the bunch start to turn ripe. In supermarkets, plantains will often be sold green to extend shelf life.
So how do you quickly ripen plantains, whether they’re from your own garden or the store?
Well, there are several methods that you can try with varying degrees of success. Continue reading below for great tips to ripen your plantains!
How Do You Know When Plantains are Ripe?
Though there are dozens of varieties of plantains, an unripe plantain will generally be green in color. This is the easiest way to spot the unripe fruit. Once the plantain starts to ripen, it will begin to change to a yellow color.
Once it is a uniform yellow with no green parts, then the fruit is ready to be enjoyed.
Another way to know if a plantain is ripe, is by firmly pressing on it with your thumb. An unripe plantain will be hard to the touch, while a ripe plantain should be semi soft and give a little under the pressure of your thumb.
Note that while the plantain should be soft, it should not be mushy (this would mean it’s overripe).
4 Best Ways to Ripen Plantains Quickly
It’s important to note that plantains do not have to be ripe to be consumed. Plantains can be eaten while green or semi ripe, but their flavor profile and uses will differ depending on how ripe they are.
When they’re at the green stage, plantains are very starchy and have properties similar to potatoes. Green plantains are perfect for making tostones and chips.
So if you just can’t wait, you do have options for using your green plantains.
But, if your preference is the soft sweet flesh of the ripe plantain, then here are the various ways in which you can speed up the ripening process and enjoy your plantains.
The 4 best ways to ripen plantains quickly are:
- Place in warm temperature
- Place in a paper bag
- Ripen in the oven
- Ripen in the microwave
Let’s take a more detailed look at each method below.
Place in Warm Temperature
It is a well known fact that fruits will ripen faster in warm and humid temperatures. This is why most plants flower and produce fruit in the spring and summertime.
To ripen your plantains quickly, it is best to keep them in a warm room, but away from direct sunlight. In most cases the kitchen will be perfect for storing and ripening plantains.
Green plantains kept at a constant temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit will ripen in a few days to a week. If you have a bunch or a hand of plantains, keeping them together will also speed up the process as more ethylene or ripening gas will be produced.
While effective, the warm room process is not the quickest, but not to worry, continue reading for speedier methods to ripen plantains.
Place in a Paper Bag with a Banana or Apple
The second method for ripening plantains will require a paper bag.
Simply place the plantain in the paper bag and place it in a well ventilated warm area. As an added boost, you can place a ripe banana or apple inside the bag.
These fruits will release ethylene which will help to ripen the plantain. Depending on the size and how green the plantain was, using this process can lead to ripe plantains in 1 to 3 days.
Avoid closing the bag too tightly as the plantains also need oxygen for the ripening process to take place.
Ripening in the Oven
This is one of the lesser known methods for ripening fruit, but it can be very effective.
To begin, simply place your unripe plantains in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and allow them to warm up for approximately 30 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and allow them to sit for an hour or two. They’ll look shiny and black but they will be ripe and sweet.
Plantains ripened in the oven are best used for frying, or they can be enjoyed as is.
Using the Microwave
The microwave can also be used to ripen plantains quickly. Before placing the plantains in the microwave oven, you should take a fork and poke the skin a few times on all sides. Then, microwave the plantain for 30 seconds at a time until it feels soft to the touch.