Uganda Extension Workers tipped on Matooke value addition
Wednesday, 6th April, 2011
JOLLY Gonahasa is a matooke expert, having started a cookery institute at Wandegeya, a Kampala suburb. She has mastered the art of preparing matooke, and has passed on the skills to her students.
“Although many of us like devouring a meal of matooke, only a few understand what an elaborate exercise it is to prepare a good matooke meal,” Gonahasa says.
Perhaps that explains why many hotels and restaurants in Kampala often come short of preparing a good traditional matooke dish.
Cooking traditional food requires tact, which big hotels do not have the time, patience or knack for.
This is why the less affluent restaurants in the suburbs still have a good number of clients, despite the bad locations.
Recently, extension workers from the central region were sensitised in preparing different nutritious banana meals.
The extension workers drawn from Luwero, Kayunga, Mukono, Buikwe, Wakiso and Mpigi districts were equipped with skills of making matooke products such as purees, juice, flour, jam, powder, vinegar and confectionary jelly.
“Matooke has a short shelf life, which is why we invented several ways of preserving it,” says Gonahasa, who is also a product development officer at the Presidential Initiative for Banana and Industrial Development.
The initiative seeks to add value to matooke. The initiative has a factory in Bushenyi district, which produces instant tooke flour.
“We have machinery which produces and packages tooke flour for export,” says Gonahasa.
She added that the initiative had acquired bigger machinery, which they will use to produce flour for both local and export markets.
The senior agricultural officer at the agriculture ministry, Daisy Eresu, said the trained extension workers were expected to create a core team of staff to promote and follow up banana initiatives in their districts.
Preparation of banana products?
Bananas for puree production should be harvested at a point of maturity.
Ripened bananas are selected and washed thoroughly to remove dirt and any chemical residue.
The bananas are then blanched with either food grade steam or boiling water until a centre temperature of 93oC is reached.
The puree is then obtained by passing the peeled bleached bananas in a communition machine.
The puree has an attractive colour, fine texture and retains its fruity flavour.
Banana puree must be further treated to ensure preservation.
The puree can be frozen, canned or aseptically packed. It is then used by the beverage industry in baby foods, snack foods, jam and sauces.
Banana powder has high sugar and low starch content and can be used as a substitute for fresh banana in making traditional cakes.
Good quality powder is produced from the bananas of right variety and degree of ripeness. Immature or overripe fruits are excluded from the process.
Banana flour is obtained by drying and grinding unripe bananas. This product is rich in starch, but has no gluten.
Banana flour can be used as flour in the processing of snack foods and confectionery products with the addition of other flavourings.
Bananas with a fine flavour and texture can be processed into jam.
The processing of the product is similar to that of other fruit jams.
Before the training, many of the participants believed that matooke is primarily made up of water.
Their arguments were supported by a Kampala-based food scientist, Umar Mutuya.
In his publications, Mutuya says matooke have very little proteins.
He says to have a balanced meal, matooke should be eaten with a food rich in proteins.
By Ronald Kalyango: The New Vision Newspaper