Monthly Archives: December 2007

Fruit Juice Processing


This Practical Action technical brief is a good quick introduction to small scale juice production. It discusses the type of juice product (pure, nectars, squashes & cordials) and sketches the process of moving from hand squeezing, through kitchen type equipment to small scale plant.
It also has a good list of possible suppliers and links to technical briefs for further information on the production of specific juices.

As usual a text version of the paper can be read on line and a pdf version, with illustrations can be downloaded from there for free.

Pectin From Banana Waste


Following on the previous entry that identified the valuable compounds normally left in juice wastes, this article on Food reports on work done by researchers from Cameroon and Belgium.

While citrus is probably the most used source of pectin, this research indicates the potential of tailoring pectin properties through control of the extraction process.

The authors contend that

“Developing countries such as Cameroon import several tons of pectin each year, although there is a vast resource of agricultural products and agro wastes which can be used to produce pectin. In this country, 600,000 metric tons of banana were produced in 2004 with 40 per cent of the total weight of the fruit being wastes which can be used to extract pectin,”

I, however, can not see this type of process making a significant difference in the medium term, because of the shear size of the “resource”. Therefore, maybe some other thoughts next time.

Filling In Forms

Today I had to fill in a form to allow some blood to be drawn for blood tests.

The form was first of all designed in A4 and then printed onto A5. Being a busy form on A4 it was almost impossible on A5 epecially without 20/20 eyesight, which many of their clients are – thats what aging is about you need more testing and see less!

Then a few lines in the following were called for

ID Number Date of Birth Age

which I filled in as follows:

471104nnnnnn 1947/11/04 60

Yes the first six digits of my ID make the other data redundant. The form is designed for cmputer capture so the waste of time is repeated!

Powered by ScribeFire.

Colourants From Hibiscus Rosella – image test

Scientists in Taiwan have persued the potential of the bright crimsom colour of hibiscus and developed a feeze dried, stabilised product that shows promise.

In this time of a growing demand (although from a small part of the world’s population) for natural food ingredients, could this develop into a market for West Africa’s experience in producing hibiscus

               photo by JIGGS on

Link to Full Article in Food

Hibiscus extracts show extra potential as colourant powders

By Stephen Daniells

14/12/2007 – Freeze-dried extracts from hibiscus stabilised by trehalose or maltodextrin can provide colourants for a range of food applications with superior stability, report researchers from Taiwan.

When formulated into a model beverage, lead author Kiattisak Duangmal from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok reports that the hibiscus extracts performed well in comparison to commercially used colorants: San Red RC and synthetic carmoesin.

Hibiscus extracts are already used by the food industry to give colour and flavour to beverages. The new research, published in the journal LWT – Food Science and Technology, indicates that when the extracts are freeze-dried as powders, they could offer a stable colourant for industry.

Fruit Waste Adds Value to Juice


This interesting article from Food Science Central discusses the fact that many of the components of fruit that are looked for in higher value and healthy fruit juices are actually removed in the juice making process and end up in the waste. Examples are antioxidants that are concentrated in the skin and fibre and pectin which are concentrated in the cell wall. There appears to be little information on processes based on this information or proof of the benefit of such processes.

While this probably doesn’t seem like being immediately useful to the small scale processor, it maybe identifies the opportunity of introducing less refined juices to market segments which are aware of the health benefits of these components.

It also reminds me of the issue of food waste and its many facets which I am sure I will address with time.

Projects to Enterprises

The co-operative was “changing projects into business enterprises, make more profits so people can get more money and change there living”.

This was, this morning as I was watching Ulimo, a magazine for emerging farmers in South Africa. The statement was by Sandile Adam the Project Leader of the Uitenhage & Dispatch Development Initiative.

This is what I was alluding to in my blog of 06/12/2007, where I referred to West African Projects which were unable to make a real difference.

I had personal experience of a similar thing when I started out looking at small business in South Africa in the early 1990s.

An obvious opportunity for small business was small scale (100s of loaves a day) bakeries. At the time most standard white and brown bread was baked in large regional bakeries, which delivered into the rural areas, sometimes as infrequently as every second day. These deliveries were to a very large number of local shops selling tens of loaves a day over very poor roads. Demand in these areas for bread and rice was low because of its high cost compared to the staple which is mealie meal.


We worked with a supplier of flour to develop a breadmix that took the technology out of the baking – ie the mix was adjusted to account for the particular bread flour characteristics, meaning that baking was a “bag of ingredients plus a bucked of water” process. Appropriate ovens were bought or built and some 20 projects established. The supplier of the mix implemented and managed the projects using one of the company’s master bakers.

I was involved in the set up of some of the early bakeries and facilitated an approach where an appropriate entrepreneur was established in business through the “offices” of the community’s development activities. At one particular bakery we were confronted by a different approach – the group preferred to share, the “salary” that was affordable by the business, between 24 bakers, rather than the 3 that the business model proposed. This was so that at least “everyone would get something”.

What was interesting, was that over the months I was able to compare these two models of running a bakery. The entrepreneurial one succeeded as the entrepreneur was able to put real effort into the activity. He did this because his “income” was directly related to what he did. It was also true that he had a sales point through his rural shop. In the group approach the “bakers” enjoyed the few dollars they earned and the comradeship of the bakery. They were not prepared to put an effort in to growing sales at they neither saw a real reward for effort nor a threat of loss of income for inactivity. This was because changes in the very small income were effectively insignificant. The small income was also not able to make a any real difference to their lives.

The project did not succeed in setting up large numbers of bakeries because of a change in the industry with the deregulation of baking leading to a boom in small urban bakeries. Also, as has been revealed lately, prices were controlled and manipulated by the large bakers giving the small baker of standard bread little opportunity.

Maputaland Tree Butcheries


The once common tree butchery of Maputaland have all but vanished for non technical reasons. I plan to investigate it a bit and see if there is a basis for new business. I would appreciate any feedback or ideas from anyone interested.

At the time that I was working on palm wine preservation in Maputaland, I sometimes ate at the local tree butcheries and was always interested in how they operated,

Cattle were slaughtered occasionally in response to the demand to ensure that meat was not stored for long periods. Slaughtering was done by hanging the carcass from a tree and carefully removing the innards intact. these were separated into usable and waste material and the waste buried.


Passersby either made a meal of the meat which was braaied (the South African term for barbecue) on the spot or bought to take home.

What was noticeable about the meat was the deeper yellow colour of the fat, the fact that it was tougher and tastier than the meat from the supermarket and that it was sometimes still warm!
The tree butcheries were evaluated microbiologically to understand their impact on consumer health. It was found that the meat matched that from a modern microbiologically, but that the animal health issues were not addressed according to modern standards. It was concluded that the main contribute to the hygiene at the tree butcheries was the periods when slaughtering did not take place which broke microbial build up and the simple cleanliness practices.

The tree butcheries no longer exist, apparently due mainly to police interventions aimed at controlling stock theft that became rife in the mid nineties.

I believe an attempt should be made to re look at this enterprise which created jobs and a market for cattle, to try and design a new business model matching the current situation