Often interchanged with bananas, plantains are usually larger and tougher than bananas. They are not as sweet, starchy and tough. It is called the “cooking banana” and is not recommended to be eaten raw. Meanwhile, bananas can be eaten raw or cooked, and it gets sweeter, darker, and softer as it ripens over time.
Plantain chips are made from green-yellow plantains that are thinly-sliced and deep-fried until golden and crispy. Like the fruit from where it was made, it is also often interchanged with banana chips or banana crisps. Plantain chips are a popular Latin American and African treat, but there are also other variations of this in other countries, especially in Southeast Asia where the plantains originated.
Plantain Chip Trivia
- Plantain is said to be as versatile as potato. It is said to have a similar neutral flavor and texture of potatoes and can also be considered as a starchy substitute. It can be incorporated in stews, or can even be grilled, steamed, or boiled.
- Plantains or bananas are actually considered as an herb and not as a tree as it does not have a wooden trunk or stems.
- Plantains are a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidant compounds.
Plantain Chip Buying Guide
Plantain chips are widely available with supermarkets and gourmet stores carrying different brands. It is also served in some Latin American restaurants or food stalls as this is one of their prevalent snack fares.
Plantain Chip Production & Farming in Texas
Aside from numerous Latin American restaurants who have this in their menu, some local producers do their homemade version of plantain chips, to be sold in farmers markets.
Preservatives, Additives, Chemicals
Most of the plantain chips are made as a healthy snack alternative, which is why many of the brands market their products to not be containing any preservatives. The ingredients list is also very simple, just containing the plantain, the oil they used to fry or cook the plantain and salt. However, some brands add some additives to their flavored plantain products.
- Maltodextrin – a polysaccharide that is commonly added to packaged foods to improve its flavor, thickness, and shelf life. This white powdery substance is derived from corn, rice, potato starch, or wheat, however, it is highly processed, using acids or enzymes. Maltodextrin is considered by the US FDA to be a safe food additive and is counted in the total carbohydrate count in the food’s nutritional value. There are warnings that the maltodextrin may have a high glycemic index and might pose an issue for those with diabetes. But this substance is usually present in small amounts in food and therefore won’t have that much significant effect if taken moderately.
- Citric acid – This is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and the likes. However, there is also a manufactured form that is used as a food additive and can also be found in cleaning agents and nutritional supplements. This manufactured citric acid is used to preserve the ingredients, to boost acidity in its contents, and to enhance the flavor. This is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
- Silicon Dioxide – Also called silica, this can be found naturally in some plants like leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, oats, alfalfa, beets, and brown rice. But this can also be used as a food additive to prevent powdered ingredients from clumping. This is recognized by the US FDA as a safe food additive, along with the regulation that it should not exceed two percent of the food’s total weight.
Plantain chips are usually sold in sealed polyethylene or polypropylene plastic pouches to keep them airtight and moisture-free, therefore maintaining the quality, freshness, and crispness of the chips.
Enjoying Plantain Chips
Plantain chips are generally enjoyed after they are deep-fried, but some choose to buy or consume a baked or an oil-free variation as a healthier substitute.
Others also upgrade their plantain chips eating experience by using savory dips. To further maintain their healthy diet, they use and monitor the ingredients of their dips by using vegan dips or fruit-based ones.
To ensure the crispness of plantain chips over time and to keep it from getting stale, it should be stored in an airtight and moisture-proof container. The shelf life of these chips is said to be reduced when exposed to air and light. Some plantain chips brands have expiration dates of up to 6 months after the purchase. Others suggest putting it on the fridge or freezer, but it is still a debate with the consumers if it remains to be crisp after being frozen.
It is very simple to make your homemade version of plantain chips, using only 3 ingredients!
- Large green plantains
- Canola oil
- Salt (to taste)
- Peel plantains and slice thinly.
- Heat about 1 ½ to 2 inches of oil in a large pan or cast-iron skillet.
- Fry the plantain slices in several batches until browned or golden.
- Drain in paper towels and cool completely.