You Should Take This Precaution Before Working With Plantains

If you've simply been using bananas in any recipe that calls for plantains, it's a habit you need to stop, quite frankly. While the two have a very similar appearance, the starch content of plantains mean they more closely resemble potatoes, as food writer and cookbook author Von Diaz told the Tampa Bay Times. There is an additional thing to be aware of when you're working with plantains, though it might surprise you — the sap. 

Plantains have a sap that can easily stain everything from your hands to your counters with an alarming brown or black hue. The problem is sometimes compounded by recipes that capitalize on different stages of ripeness in plantains. Some call for soft, ripe, yellow plantains, while others require the high starch content of unripe green plantains. 

The finger-staining sap can be particularly prevalent in unripe plantains, so it can be helpful to minimize the amount of skin contact you make with the plantain while preparing it. According to Serious Eats, instead of peeling the plantain with your fingers, you should use a knife to essentially cut off the skin, as you might with a potato.

Take your work surface into account as well. As BBC Food suggests, it's best to peel a plantain on a surface such as a washable cutting board, rather than a countertop or wood board that will stain easily. And finally, consider your outfit. It may be best to wear an apron or something else that you wouldn't mind getting stained.

How to remove pesky stains if they happen

Let's say you weren't too careful with your plantains and ended up with a dark stain on your t-shirt. What now? Luckily, there are a few tips to try before you toss the offending garment in the garbage.

Hunker suggests a few home remedies, including dabbing the stain with rubbing alcohol, soaking the garment in salted water, applying lemon juice to the stain, or immersing the garment in a mix of vinegar and warm water. These spot treatments can help loosen up the stain before you toss the garment in for a regular wash cycle.

If the plantain sap ends up staining your countertop or cutting board, try cleaning it the same way you'd clean any other stain, using your regular cleaning products. Sprinkling dry laundry detergent over the stained area, soaking, and then scrubbing with a brush and hot water might be helpful (via Garden Axis). Or, if the surface won't be damaged by it, diluted bleach can help lift the stain as well.

Finally, if sap gets on your hands, you'll obviously want a gentler remedy to remove it. Try a remedy for removing plant residues, using butter or oil to lift the sap, washing your hands with regular dish soap, and then scrubbing with baking soda (via How To Clean Stuff).