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Banana and Plantain Processing Technology

1. Traditional processing

Products: Uses and Dietary Significance

Most of the world’s bananas are eaten either raw, in the ripe state, or as a cooked vegetable, and only a very small proportion are processed in order to obtain a storable product. This is true both at a traditional village level with both dessert and cooking bananas and when considering the international trade in dessert bananas.

In general, preserved products do not contribute significantly to the diet; however, in some localised areas the products are important in periods when food are scarce.

Probably the most widespread and important product is flour preparation from unripe banana and plantains by sun-drying. In Uganda, dried slices known as “mutere” are prepared for storage from green bananas, the dried slices being either used directly for cooking or after grinding into a flour. “Mutere” is used chiefly as a famine reserve and does not feature largely in the diet under normal conditions.

In Gabon, plantains are sometimes made into dried slices which can be stored and used on long journeys, and plantains are used in Cameroon to prepare dried pieces which are stored and ground as needed into flour for use in cooking a paste known as “fufu”. Dried green banana slices are also used in parts of South and Central America and West Indies for preparing flour.

The other nutritionally important product is beer which is a major product in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi where green banana utilisation is particularly high.

Preservation Methods and Processes

Drying. – Both ripe and unripe bananas and plantains are normally peeled and sliced before drying, although banana figs are sometimes prepared from whole ripe fruit. Sun drying is the most widespread technique where the climate is suitable but drying in ovens or over fires is also practiced. In west Africa, plantains are often soaked and sometimes parboiled before drying. The slices of unripe fruit are normally spread out on bamboo frameworks; or a cemented area; or on a mat; or on a swept-bare patch of earth; or on a roof; or sometimes on stones outcrops or sheets of corrugated iron.

Oven-drying of ripe bananas is practiced in Polynesia as a mean of preserving the fruits, which are then wrapped in leaves and bound tightly to store until needed. In East Africa a method has been reported that involves drying the peeled bananas on a frame placed over a fire for 24 hr before drying in the sun, to accelerate the process.

Product stability and storage problems

There is little experimental data on the storage life of the traditionally made banana and plantain products.

Potential for scaling up of traditional processes to industrial level

Many banana products are now produced on an industrial scale, including the traditional banana figs and flour, and the processing techniques are described below. One of the main problems encountered has been the susceptibility of banana products to flavour deterioration and discoloration and in the past many products reaching the market have been of poor quality.

A great deal of research has been directed to overcoming these problems, although however good the resultant products are they cannot compare in flavour and other characteristics with the fresh banana fruit. Indeed, an important constraint on the large-scale development of banana processing is the lack of demand for banana products since the fresh fruit is available throughout the year in most parts of the tropical world.

The production of beer from banana and plantains has not been scaled up to an industrial level, and while an important product in localised areas of tropical Africa, the market is rapidly declining in favour of European-type brews produced locally.

 

2. Industrial processing

Products and uses

The main commercial products made from bananas are canned or frozen purée, dried figs, banana powder, flour, flakes, chips (crisps), canned slices and jams.

Banana products can be divided roughly into two types – those for direct consumption, such as figs, and those for use in food manufacturing industry, for example purées and powder.

Banana figs, or fingers as they are sometimes known, are usually whole, peeled fruit carefully dried so as to retain their shape, although sometimes the fruit is sliced or halved to facilitate drying. Banana and plantain chips (crisps) are thinly sliced pieces of fruit fried in oil and eaten as a snack like potato chips (crisps).

The main use of canned slices is in tropical fruit salads. Banana flakes are used as a flavouring or in breakfast cereals. Banana purée find use mainly in the production of baby foods. Banana flour is said to be highly digestible and is used in baby and invalid foods, but can also be used in the preparation of bread and beverages.

Banana powder is used chiefly in the baking industry for the preparation and fillings for cakes and biscuits and is also used for invalid and baby foods.

 

Processing technology

In general, to obtain a good-quality product from ripe-bananas the fruit is harvested green and ripened artificially under controlled conditions at the processing factory. After ripening, the banana hands are washed to remove dirt and any spray residues, and peeled. Peeling is almost always done by hand using stainless steel knives, although a mechanical peeler for ripe bananas has been developed, capable of peeling 450 Kg of fruit per hour (Banana Bulletin, 1974).

The peeling of unripe bananas and plantains is facilitated by immersing the fruit in hot water. For example, immersion in water at 70-75 ° C for 5 min. has been suggested as an aid for peeling green bananas for flour production, while the peeling of green bananas for freezing has been facilitated by immersion in water at 93° C for 30 min.

Banana figs

Fully ripe fruits with a sugar content of about 19.5% are used and are treated with sulphurous acid after peeling, then dried as soon as possible afterwards. Various drying systems have been described using temperatures between 50 and 82° C for 10 to 24 hr to give a moisture content ranging from 8 to 18% and a yield of dried figs of 12 to 17% of the fresh banana on the stem.

One factory in Australia uses a solar heat collector on the roof to augment the heat used for drying bananas. Bananas can also be dried by osmotic dehydration, using a technique which involves drawing water from 1/4-in. thick banana by placing them in a sugar solution of 67 to 70 deg. Brix for 8 to 10 hr. followed by vacuum-drying at 65 to 70° C, at a vacuum of 10 mm Hg for 5 hr. The moisture content of the final products is 2.5% or less, much lower than that achieved by other methods.

Banana purée

Banana purée is obtained by pulping peeled, ripe bananas and then preserving the pulp by one of three methods: canning aseptically, acidification followed by normal canning, or quick-freezing.

The bulk of the world’s purée is processed by the aseptic canning technique. Peeled, ripe fruits are conveyed to a pump which forces them through a plate with 1/4-in. holes, then onto a homogeniser, followed by a centrifugal de-aerator, and into a receiving tank with 29in. vacuum, where the removal of air helps prevent discoloration by oxidation.

The purée is then passed through a series of scraped surface heat exchangers where it is sterilised by steam, partially cooled, and finally brought to filling temperature. The sterilised purée is then packed aseptically into steam-sterilised cans which are closed in a steam atmosphere.

Banana slices

Several methods for canning of banana slices in syrup are used. Best-quality slices are obtained from fruit at an early stage of ripeness. The slices are processed in a syrup of 25 deg. Brix with pH about 4.2, and in some processes calcium chloride (0.2%) or calcium lactate (0.5%) are added as firming agents.

A method for producing an intermediate-moisture banana product for sale in flexible laminate pouches has been developed. Banana slices are blanched and equilibrated in a solution containing glycerol (42.5%), sucrose (14.85%), potassium sorbate (0.45%), and potassium metabisulphite (0.2%) at 90 deg. C for 3 min. to give a moisture content of 30.2%.

 

Banana powder

In the manufacture of banana powder, fully ripe banana pulp is converted into a paste by passing through a chopper followed by a colloid mill. A 1 or 2 % sodium metabisulphite solution is added to improve the colour of the final product. Spray- or drum-drying may be used, the latter being favoured as all the solids are recovered.

A typical spray dryer can produce 70 kg powder per hour to give yields of 8 to 11% of the fresh fruit, while drum-drying gives a final yield of about 13% of the fresh fruit. In the latter method the moisture content is reduced to 8 to 12 % and then further decreased to 2 % by drying in a tunnel or cabinet dryer at 60° C.

 

Banana flour

Production of flour has been carried out by peeling and slicing green fruit, exposure to sulphur dioxide gas, then drying in a counter-current tunnel dryer for 7 to 8 hr. with an inlet temperature of 75° C and outlet temperature of 45° C, to a moisture content of 8%, and finally milling.

 

Banana chips (crisps)

Typically, unripe peeled bananas are thinly sliced, immersed in a sodium or potassium metabisulphite solution, fried in hydrogenated oil at 180 to 200° C, and dusted with salt and an antioxidant.

Alternatively, slices may be dried before frying and the antioxidant and salt added with the oil. Similar processes for producing plantain chips have been developed.

 

Banana beverages.

In a typical process, peeled ripe fruit is cut into pieces, blanched for 2 min. in steam, pulped and pectolytic enzyme added at a concentration of 2 g enzyme per 1 kg pulp, then held at 60 to 65° C and 2.7 to 5.5 pH for 30 min.

In a simpler method, lime is used to eliminate the pectin. Calcium oxide (0.5%) is added to the pulp and after standing for 15 min. this is neutralised giving a yield of up to 88% of a clear, attractive juice. In another process banana pulp is acidified, and steam-blanched in a 28-in Hg vacuum which ensures disintegration and enzyme inactivation. The pulp is then conveyed to a screw press, the resulting purée diluted in the ratio 1:3 with water, and the pH adjusted by further addition of citric acid to 4.2 to 4.3, which yields an attractive drink when this is centrifuged and sweetened.

 

Jam

A small amount of jam is made commercially by boiling equal quantities of fruit and sugar together with water and lemon juice, lime juice or citric acid, until setting point is reached.

 

Product stability and spoilage problems

All dried banana products are very hydroscopic and susceptible to flavour deterioration and discoloration, but this can be overcome to some extent by storing in moisture-proof containers and sulphiting the fruit before drying to inactivate the oxidases.

The dried products are also liable to attack by insects and moulds if not stored in dry conditions, although disinfestation after drying by heating for 1 hr to 80° C or by fumigation with methyl bromide ensures protection against attack. Banana powder is said to be stored for up to a year commercially and flakes have been stored in vacuum-sealed cans with no deterioration in moisture, colour or flavour for 12 months.

Banana chips tend to have a poor storage life and to become soft and rancid. However, chips treated with an antioxidant have been stored satisfactorily at room temperature in hermetically sealed containers up to 6 months with no development of rancidity.

 

Quality Control Methods

In general a good quality product is obtained if fruit is harvested at the correct stage of maturity and, where appropriate, ripened under controlled conditions. For example, in the case of banana figs, the fruit should be fully mature (sugar content of 19.5% or above) or the final

Alternatively, slices may be dried before frying and the antioxidant and salt added with the oil. Similar processes for producing plantain chips have been developed.

 

 

 

2.  Preparation methods for fresh bananas and plantains

The main ways of preparing fresh bananas for consumption are boiling or steaming, roasting or baking and frying. Boiling followed by pounding into “fufu” is also widely adopted in certain areas of the tropics.

Boiling or steaming

Plantains and bananas are often prepared simply by boiling in water, either in their peel or after peeling, and either ripe or unripe; if unripe, the fruit is scraped thoroughly after peeling to remove all traces of fibrous material. The boiled fruit is eaten alone or more usually accompanied by a sauce. This preparation technique is widely used in West Africa.

Roasting or baking.

Unpeeled or peeled fruit, either ripe or unripe, is roasted simply by placing in the ashes of a fire or in an oven. This method is widely used in West Africa, East Africa and the South Pacific islands. For example, ripe plantains are placed unpeeled in an oven and when partly brown and tender, removed and peeled, then replaced in the oven and roasted evenly.

Frying.

Ripe or unripe plantains or bananas are often peeled, sliced and cooked in oil, particularly in West Africa and in parts of South America and the West Indies. Similar products are also made in East Africa. Typically, ripe plantains are peeled, cut into slices or split lengthways, and fried in palm oil or with groundnut oil, the pieces being served either hot with a sauce or with fried eggs, or cold as a snack.

Pounding.

Pounding is a process, used particularly in West Africa, for preparing most perishable staple food crops including plantains, cassava, yams and cocoyams to obtain a paste or dough known as “fufu” (also spelled “foofoo”, “foutou”, “foufou”). The plantains are peeled or boiled and peeled after boiling and pounded in a wooden mortar, the resulting paste normally being eaten with soup or a spiced sauce of meat and vegetables, but sometimes after wrapping in leaves and steaming.

Company Profile

Romiter Machinery Co., Ltd. is a market leading designer and a manufacturer of Banana Processing Machine with 10 years’ experience. In the past 10 years, we focused on researching and designing the machinery which could process the banana into different types. Romiter Banana Processing Machine meet Europe Quality Requirement. with CE Certification

Romiter Group provides a complete Banana Processing Solution, which includes Unripe Green Banana Peeling Machine, Ripe Banan Peeling Machine, Banana Longitudinal Slicer Machine, Banana Chips Slicing Machine, Fring Banana Chips Production Line, Banana Powder Production Line and Banana Packing Machine

Romiter Group can provide customized products for customers. Welcome to contact with us for more information.

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