A review of the uses and methods of processing banana and plantain (Musa spp.) into storable food products
Plantain belongs to the genus Musa of the family musaceae. Nearly all edible plantain cultivar are derived from two wild species, M. acuminate and M. balbisiana (Robinson, 1996). These wild species are classified on the basis of the proportion of the genetic constitution contributed by each parental source (Robinson, 1996). Plantain (Musa spp.) is an important dietary source of carbohydrate in the humid tropical zones of Africa, Asia and South America. (Robinson, 1996). Plantain is rich in vitamins A, C and B group as well as minerals such as calcium and iron (Marriott & Lancaster, 1983). Musa spp. are useful as food to be consumed by human either as flour to be used in confectionaries or as jams and jellies; in chips etc. It’s peel can be used as animal feed. All parts of the banana plant have medicinal applications: the flower in bronchitis and dysentery and on ulcers, cooked flowers are given to diabetics etc. It’s leaves are also useful for lining cooking pots and for wrapping. Improved processes have also made it possible to utilize banana fibre for ropes, table mats and handbag (Chandler, 1995). Despite these many uses of Musa spp.and the huge tonnages harvested each year, there are certain problems such as inaccessibility to production areas, far distances between production areas and customers, inadequate infrastructures for harvesting, carelessness on the part of harvesters and handlers among others which are all factors that lead to high rate of post harvest losses, hence the need for processing of these important crops. Different processing methods of Musa spp. into new food products which include production of flour, preparation of jams and jellies and the quality attributes of the products obtained from processed Musa spp.. were reviewed. It can therefore be concluded that subjecting Musa spp. to processing methods will help enhance and improve the value of the fruit and make it available all year round for better utilization.
Keywords: Drying, flour, banana, powder, jams, jellies.