A plantain, often referred to as a cooking banana, is classified as a fruit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Fruits and Veggies Matter website. The banana-like fruit is popular in Latin American, Caribbean and Asian countries and can be prepared in several ways.
There are three stages in which plantains can be eaten, notes Fruits and Veggies Matter. Green plantains are yellow or pink inside and used primarily in savory side dishes. Yellow plantains have brown or black spots and are mostly used when a dish calls for a somewhat sweet taste as well as a firm texture. Black plantains are soft, and can be eaten raw, because at this stage they are fully ripened.
Although the plantain is classified as a fruit, in many countries, it is used more like a vegetable than a fruit, according to Fruits and Veggies Matter. They can be boiled, baked or fried, much like potatoes.
Plantains are high in vitamins A and C. They are fat-free and low in calories -- just 90 in a half-cup serving. Plantains freeze well, notes the CDC's website. Otherwise they should be stored at room temperature, although it is okay to refrigerate them for two or three days before cooking them to slow down the ripening process.