Don't shy away from what looks like a rotten banana that is too far gone for even banana bread. I did. Until now, when I tried a plantain for the first time. It looks like an oversized banana and tastes similar, but different. What a treat lies within the less-than-appealing wrapping!
A plantain's peeling is green when it is unripe. At this stage, it is firm and starchy and can be prepared like a potato (fried, boiled, baked). Over several days, the peeling will turn a yellow color. It is still somewhat firm and starchy, but its sweetness is beginning to develop. It can be grilled, caramelized, and baked. As the plantain continues to ripen, its peeling will get black blotches. Eventually it turns entirely black. Now, it is very ripe with a pink to pale yellow hue and has reached its peak sweetness... perfect for eating raw like a banana.
Plantains are considered a super food. Compared to bananas, they have more than 20x the amount of Vitamin A, about 3x the Vitamin C, double the magnesium, and almost 2x the potassium.