|Food Chain No. 21 - July 1997 (ITDG, 1997, 20 p.)|
EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT PRODUCTS FROM BANANAS IN THAILAND
Bananas of different varieties are grown in many countries and used many purposes. A few examples of popular banana products in Thailand are described below. In Thailand small-scale food processors often form groups, thus sharing the costs of equipment and running costs.
For banana sweets, ripe bananas, sugar cane (or palm sugar), coconut meat and molasses are mixed (for 20kg bananas 3kg sugar and 3kg coconut meat are needed). The mixture is constantly stirred in a pan for about 5 to 6 hours over a fire. A thick dough results which, while still wane, is rolled into thin sheets from which small pieces of different shapes are cut out. Simple cutter moulds can be used for this purpose. The brownish sweets should be packed in thin plastic sheets to avoid them sticking together. This product has a shelf life of about two months. The coconut meat gives the sweets a delicious taste and the product sells easily in the market.
The disadvantage of the production process is the long and tiring stirring period which is labour intensive and consumes a lot of firewood or gas. The equipment needed is simple - a stove, a pan, a stirring device usually a wooden stick, a knife and moulds.
A very simple way of processing bananas is to dry them. The bananas are peeled and the whole pieces are dried either in simple solar driers (see photo) or simply sun dried on trays. The latter is not very hygienic, allowing dust and insects to get into the product. The drying time varies between several days and a week, depending on the humidity and the intensity of the sun. The dried bananas are flattened by hand and briefly soaked either in sugar water or honey solution and then dried completely. The better the drying process, the better the quality and the look of the produce. The colour should be golden brown. The shelf life is about one month after which the colour turns dark. The produce is not spoiled but is rejected by consumers due to its dark colour. It is important to protect the produce from flies and other insects by packaging immediately or by covering with cloths. The equipment needed is a simple solar dryer or trays for sun drying.
Banana chips, either sweet or salty, are a very popular snack in Thailand. The bananas are peeled, thinly sliced with a knife or a special cutting device, left to dry on a tray for one to two days and then deep fried in vegetable oil until golden brown. In order to improve the taste of the product margarine, sugar and/or salt are added to the frying oil. The fried banana chips are briefly left on paper to soak up the excess oil and then packed in bags. The shelf life is about 2 months. The photograph shows a woman frying bananas. The equipment needed is a stove (gas/wood), stirring devices, sieves to collect the banana chips from the pan, frying pan, drying trays.
Gabrielle Herrmann, Consultant on Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development: Food Processing, Odenwaldstr. 4, 61118 Bad Vilbel, Germany. Tel./fax: 49 6101 128210