Plantain a delicious staple food for your Rasta Ital Garden

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Musa paradisiaca

God’s creation intent (Genesis 1:29-31):

‘Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground– everything that has the breath of life in it– I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ (NIV) Let no animal suffer or die that we may live! (d-10)

Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, but can be grown in sub-tropical regions, and are treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when unripe.

The common plantain species Musa paradisiaca has many varieties. Bananas or Musa sapientum are sub-species of plantains, and were formerly regarded as a separate species. Bananss are eaten raw, while plantains require cooking. the species is likely native of India and Southern Asia and introduced by the Portuguese into the Caribbean Islands.

The shoots and roots are eaten, and the leaves are used to wrap and serve food. The fruits can be ground into flour and made into an alcoholic drink. Finely sliced plantain fruit, fried in coconut oil, turn into chips. A common treat in Jamaica and Nigeria.

Plantains can be used for cooking at any stage of ripeness, and very ripe plantain can be eaten raw. As the plantain ripens, it becomes sweeter and its color changes from green to yellow to black, just like the banana. Green plantains are firm and starchy, and resemble potatoes in flavour. Yellow plantains are softer and starchy but sweet. Extremely ripe plantains are softer, deep yellow pulp that is much sweeter than the earlier stages of ripeness.

Plantains at the yellow to black stages can be used in sweet dishes. Steam-cooked plantains are considered a nutritious food for infants and the elderly. Ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning: it is mashed with a pinch of salt and is believed to be more easily digestible than ripe banana. The juice from peeling the plant can stain clothing and hands, and it can be very difficult to remove.

Plantain Recipes

On the Ivory Coast of Africa they make a dish called Aloco. Fried plantains are covered in an onion-tomato sauce, often with a grilled fish between the plantains and sauce.

In the Dominican Republic a traditional dish consists of boiled green plantains, mashed and seasoned with butter or oil. Served for breakfast or dinner, topped with sauteed onions and accompanied by fried eggs, cheese and salami.

Boli is the term used for roasted plantain in Nigeria. the plantain is usually barbecued/grilled and served with roasted fish, peanuts and a hot palm oil sauce. Very popular as lunch snack in southern and western Nigeria for example Rivers and Lagos states. It is popular among the working class as a quick mid-day meal.

In West Africa plantain is usually sliced diagonally for a large oval shape, circularly or in little pyramids less than a centimeter thick. his is fried in oil and known as Dodo. To roast plantain a slit is made in the raw plantain, ( the skin is left on) and salt and spices are added (normally hot chilli pepper), sometimes onion or garlic, then a small amount of oil is put into the slit. Plantain is then wrapped in foil and put in the hot coals of the fire. Cooks for a few minutes and then served.

Plantains are an under utilised food in Australia and can be planted in the same way as bananas. There are restrictions on planting bananas due to a disease called “bunchy top”. So best check with Department of Agriculture for regulations and best suppliers of suckers.

Plant from suckers in Spring and grow the same way you would grow a banana.

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