How to process cassava
Cassava which was initially a famine-reserve crop introduced by Portuguese traders into Brazil, and now a food staple in sub-Saharan African countries, is a woody shrub common to about 40 African countries, extending to Madagascar in the southeast, Senegal, and Cape Verde in the Northwest.
But the focus is on Nigeria where an estimated 70% of its output is harvested asides from Congo and Tanzania. The botanical name for cassava is Manihot esculenta, It is a perennial plant but usually cultivated as an annual crop. It is extensively cultivated for its edible starchy tuberous root, which is a major source of carbohydrate.
It is the third-largest source of carbohydrate after rice and maize. Nigeria is said to be the world’s largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of cassava starch. Cassava though consumed in boiled form can be processed to obtain a variety of products.
These products range from cassava flakes (commonly called garri), fufu, starch, tapioca, and other products. Cassava must be properly prepared so as to remove the cyanide, as improper preparation could lead to acute cyanide intoxication and goiters.
Where diverse cultures have their methods but listed here is a general method common to people in Nigeria and their products:
It is a major meal for many West African countries, especially in Nigeria, and common to the easterners. Garri is fried or roasted cassava; it could be eaten by soaking in water with sugar or honey and garnished with milk, coconut, groundnut, palm kernel, or dry fish: whatever method isn’t a call for cultural appreciation rather a consideration of available resources.
Speaking of identity, its pasta form carries the identity of African culture projected from the nature of the job terrain and need for satisfaction. In this national form, it is eaten with soup- okra soup, vegetable soup, banga soup, egusi soup, etc.
Garri can be stored for more than six months in air-tight containers free from moisture and pests. The processes
involved in processing cassava to produce garri are;
● Harvest the cassava ensuring to get the best-matured one
● Peel the cassava
● Wash it thoroughly with clean water
● Grind the cassava into tiny bits
● Pour a little quantity of oil and mix thoroughly with cassava. (this process is optional)
● Pour in a sack and allow the water to drain completely by using a presser
● Leave for a day or two to allow the cassava mash to ferment removing hydrocyanic acid
● Sift the cassava mash into grits
● Fry till it’s dry or roast the cassava using a moderate flame so as not to burn it
● Spread the garri and allow it to cool
● sift the garri to separate the larger particles from the smaller one
● Pack in air tight and store in a dry environment.
The essence of going through this process is to remove the acid from the cassava as this is harmful to the health. Adding palm oil to give a yellowish color is optional as most persons do not do so leaving the garri as a creamy white color.
This is another produce gotten from the processing of cassava. It could be processed in its wet and dry form. It is made into pasta and eaten with soup as well. Step-by-step guides in its processing include;
● Harvest the cassava
● Peel it and wash with clean water
● Soak completely in water and cover it to prevent insects from entering it
● Leave for 3-7 days allowing it to ferment completely
● After complete fermentation grind to bits
At this step, you can either follow any of the two processes below depending on the one convenient for you
● Leave the grounded cassava in a bowl for a day
● Sift directly in water until the shaft is left and the cassava grits are in the water
● Allow to settle and sieve the water from the top out until a very thick paste is formed
● Pour in a sack and press so as to remove more water
● Store in an air-tight container and place in an environment free from houseflies; this is because they deposit eggs on the fufu causing maggots to be seen on them.
Another method of processing this is;
● After grinding the cassava, pour into a sack and press to remove excess water
● Sift the pressed cassava
● Fry till it is absolutely dry
● Spread and allow to cool
● Grind the fufu till powdery form
This is another product gotten from processing cassava. It could be used in its raw form to wash clothes to make them have a firm look. It is also mixed with oil and cooked with low flame while stirring to obtain a sticky form which could be eaten with some kinds of local soups.
The processes involved in its processing are;
● Harvest and peel the cassava
● Wash with clean water
● Grind the cassava into bits
● Using a small sackcloth having tiny holes, dry small portions of the cassava by squeezing with hands or using a presser to remove the water.
● This water removed is in a milky form and is allowed to settle completely
● Pour out excess water from the top and store it in a cool dry place.
These products obtained from cassava are healthy and nutritious for the body. They could be made for either personal consumption or for sale. It could also serve as an export product to other countries to generate income.