Wood utilization efficiency and acceptability of fried and smoked fish from Lake Malawi
Processing fish and fish products ensures longer shelf life, reduced post-harvest losses, better nutrition and organoleptic qualities, and attracts better market prices. However, traditional smoking, which is a common fish processing method in Malawi, is becoming difficult due to the huge volumes of wood used in the face of rapid loss of forests. Recently, fish processors have also started frying freshly caught fish as a way of processing before sale. This study compared the efficiency of wood utilization between the traditional smoking kiln, the Food and Research Institute smoking kiln (FRISMO), the modified smoking kiln and frying for Engraulicypris sardella and Copadichromis species. The processed fish were tested for consumer acceptability. The amount of wood for smoking Copadichromis species was 0.98, 1.24, 1.42 and 1.84 kg/kg of fish processed with the modified, FRISMO, traditional kilns and frying, respectively. These values were, however, not significantly different (P ⩾ 0.05). More wood (P<0.05) was used in frying E. sardella (5.83 kg/kg) than FRISMO (1.01), modified (0.98) and traditional kilns (1.81). Mean sensory scores of smoked Copadichromis species (7.4±0.2) and E. sardella (7.0±0.2) were higher in the modified kiln (P<0.05) than the FRISMO (6.2±0.2 and 7.3±0.2) and the traditional kiln (7.0±0.2 and 6.1±0.2), respectively. Sensory scores were significantly higher (8.3±0.2) and (7.9±0.2) (P<0.05) for fried Copadichromis species and E. sardella, respectively, than those for the smoking methods (FRISMO (6.2±0.2), modified kiln (7.8±0.2), traditional kiln (7.0±0.2) for E. sardella and FRISMO (7.3±0.2), modified kiln (7.9±0.2), and traditional kiln (6.1±0.2) for Copadichromis species). It is concluded that the modified kiln followed by the FRISMO kiln are more economical in terms of wood use efficiency as compared to frying. Fried fish, however, is highly acceptable by consumers compared to smoked fish. Based on the study results, mass adoption of less wood demanding fish processing methods such as the use of the modified and FRISMO kilns could help in reducing deforestation and should be promoted among fish processors.
Keywords: Smoking, frying, Copadichromis species, Engraulicypris sardella, wood usage