Why You Should Never Buy Frozen Plantains, According To A Cuban Chef

Buying frozen items from the grocery store can ensure that it stays fresh until you are ready to enjoy them. Certain quick meals like lasagna, pierogies, and waffles can be perfectly safe in your freezer and prepared at the drop of a hat. However, this matter of chilly convenience has maybe gone too far, as there are plenty of chefs out there that surely have a list of items you should never purchase from the frozen aisle.

Certain food products, like bread, can be better enjoyed fresh as opposed to frozen. Freezing your bread may actually change the molecular build-up of the item and make it harder for your body to digest. The starches that are naturally in bread products can be affected by extremely low temperatures and make it more difficult for the body's enzymes to break it down quickly, as per the Daily Mail. Also, lobster is one of those types of meats that is best enjoyed fresh. Chef Judy Joo tells Food & Wine, "The meat becomes mealy and mushy. Once they are killed, an enzyme is released that greatly compromises their texture." She goes on to say, "Freezing can reduce the severity of it, but does not eliminate it entirely." When it comes to whether or not you should buy certain fruits and vegetables right from the freezer, it can become a hot-button issue.

Why this Cuban chef never uses frozen plantains

Although you can't walk down the long aisles of freezers in your local grocery store without seeing a wide selection of chilling fruits and veggies, you might stop and wonder if it is the best way to purchase your produce. Because some fruits and vegetables are flash frozen shortly after being harvested, they still retain the same nutrients and vitamins as the fresh option. In actuality, they might even be more fresh as their flavor and nutritional benefits are all sealed in as opposed to being allowed to ripen as they travel from their place of origin to your grocery store, according to Health.

However, when it comes to purchasing frozen plantains, Executive Chef and Owner of Michelin star-rated Ariete, Michael Beltran, won't hear of it. "You will never, ever catch me using frozen plantains," Beltan told Food & Wine, "Plantains are basically a staple in any Cuban diet, and buying them frozen is almost a sin! The texture is completely off when they are frozen and then thawed. I recommend using them fresh, just like my abuelita used to." 

The starchy cousin to bananas, plantains have a thicker peel and are treated more as a savory vegetable side dish instead of a sweet dessert. Although you can technically freeze plantains safely for up to six months if they are peeled and sealed in an appropriate freezer bag, the texture may be different than cooking with a fresh variety.