I’m a huge fan of plantains, and I want to make sure more AIP/Paleo people know of them. For most of my life, I thought plantains were just those funny little green mini-bananas that were supposed to taste weird and I’d likely never eat unless I wandered into a cafe somewhere in Costa Rica… which is on my bucket list; this girl wants to learn how to surf somewhere mellow and scenic! I’m deathly afraid of waves. So why do I want to learn to surf? Buy me a coffee and we’ll chat about it. Back to the mini-bananas. Those are plantains. But I never knew there were other plantains, and that they’re so awesome. Did you know that plantains are a great source of fiber, carbohydrates, Vitamins A, C, B6, and Potassium?
When I went on AIP, I went without anything remotely bread-like for a year and a half. Yes, you read that right. No tortillas, quick breads, muffins, bread sticks, all that. When I had my first plantain cracker I almost cried out of joy. As I got into making AIP/Paleo food for the trail, I knew plantains had to be part of my game plan.
At home, I eat a whole plantain every day, fried in coconut oil with salt. It’s my soul-food-that’s-good-for-me-too. Sometimes I doctor it up with cinnamon or make tostones instead. I started making dehydrated plantain chips, which are still (and always will be) one of my trail food staples. As I got into more AIP baking, I realized that plantain flour had to be involved – while coconut flour is good for some things, it can be heavy on the gut. Where I live, it’s hard to find packaged plantain flour (go figure… I do live in the big city). So I made my own. I’m amazed how easy it is, and every time I break out my canister of home-made plantain flour for recipes (like my incredible plantain pancakes) I seriously thank myself. So. Enough rambling. Let’s make some plantain flour! It’s pretty simple; peel, slice, dry, dry some more, grind, grind some more.
One 8-inch plantain makes roughly 3 to 4 TBS flour. Use green plantains; they will dry better.
1. Peel green plantains and slice them into 1/4-inch thick discs.
2. Lay them out on dehydrator trays with some air space between them. If using mesh trays, don’t worry about flipping during drying. If using an oven, use cookie sheets with parchment paper laid down first to avoid sticking. Flip half way through to assure even drying.
3. Dry at 135°F for 8-16 hours, until very dry and crunchy. Dry chips will sound like poker chips knocking against each other. There can be no moisture left (moisture >> damp flour >> spoilage). Drying time will depend on the moisture content in the plantains (riper = moister) as well as relative humidity. If using the oven, test it to make sure it can stay at an even temp the whole time. It helps to prop the oven door open slightly to allow moisture to escape. Monitor the oven temperature, especially with an old oven.
If you are uncertain about dryness: place 2 cups of chips in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid (package up the rest in an airtight container in the meantime). Leave in a cool dark place for 24 hours; if any condensation occurs in the jar (look in the lid, too), return to dehydrator and dry for at least 2 more hours. Repeat process until you are sure they are dry. You can’t over dry them.
4. Once chips are dry, take out of dryer/oven and let them cool completely before grinding.
5. Using a high-powered (preferably glass) blender, grind the chips in small batches until they are powdered. It may take some time. The powdered parts tend to sink to the bottom and keep the larger bits away from the blades; after every small batch, I sift the flour out with a mesh colander and return the larger bits to the blender with the next batch. Grind, sift, repeat until all the chips are powdered. I prefer glass to plastic. Food for thought: In a plastic blender or food processor, I wonder if those fast-moving, hard plantain chips are likely to scrub plastic into your food. Plastic in the body is bad.
6. Place flour in an airtight container and label with how many plantains went in, and how many TBS per plantain.
7. Store in a dark, cool place.
TIP: For foods I store in bulk vs. by the serving, such as plantain flour, soup mixes, and mashers, I label the container with masking tape and a sharpie, noting how many servings are contained within; each time I take some out, I edit the note.