Plantains and bananas may look similar, but they are quite different in taste, size, and even the type of plants they grow on. Plantains are starchy, larger, and usually cooked, while bananas are sweet, smaller, and often eaten raw. Plantain trees are generally taller and more robust, producing larger bunches of fruit, whereas banana plants are technically large herbs with smaller bunches. These differences make each fruit unique in its culinary applications and nutritional profile.
Many people often confuse plantains with bananas, but although they may look alike and even share the same family, they're actually different in several ways. From taste and culinary uses to size and even the type of trees they grow on, plantains and bananas have unique characteristics. Let's dive into some of these key differences.
Plantains are generally starchy and have a more complex flavor profile. Unlike bananas, they're seldom consumed raw and are most commonly used in cooked dishes. When green, they're less sweet and have a texture similar to that of a potato. However, as they ripen, they become sweeter but still retain their starchy nature.
On the other hand, bananas are usually sweet and are most often eaten raw. The fruit is creamy and lacks the starchy texture that plantains possess. They're perfect for snacks, desserts, or even breakfast cereals.
Plantains are generally larger and have a thicker skin compared to bananas. They can grow up to 12 inches long and have a somewhat angular shape. The skin can range from green to yellow to black, depending on the ripeness.
Bananas are smaller in size, usually ranging from 6 to 8 inches long. They have a more curved shape and a thinner, more delicate skin that's easier to peel. Like plantains, the skin color changes with ripeness, typically going from green to yellow.
The trees on which plantains grow are generally taller, with a thicker trunk and larger leaves. The plantain tree is typically more robust and produces larger bunches of fruit, usually weighing 65 to 110 pounds per bunch.
Contrary to popular belief, banana plants are not trees but are technically large herbs. The ‘trunk' is a pseudostem composed of tightly packed leaf bases. Banana plants are generally smaller than plantain trees, with smaller leaves and smaller bunches of fruit that usually weigh around 30 to 50 pounds.
In summary, while plantains and bananas may appear similar, they have distinct tastes, sizes, and even grow on different types of plants. Knowing these differences can help you make better choices in cooking and eating these tropical fruits.