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Crop Produce Processing and Reasons for Food Processing

Agricultural food processing may be defined as an activity, which is performed to maintain or improve the quality or to change the form or characteristics of the agricultural product. Processing operations are undertaken to add value to agricultural materials after their production.

The main purpose of agricultural processing is to minimize the qualitative and quantitative deterioration of the material after harvest.

High post-harvest food losses, arising largely from limited food preservation capacity, are a major factor constraining food and nutrition security in the developing countries of West Africa, where seasonal food shortages and nutritional deficiency diseases are still a major concern.

Simple, low-cost, traditional food processing techniques are the bedrock of small-scale food processing enterprises that are crucial to rural development in West Africa.

It is estimated that about 50% of perishable food commodities including fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers and about 30% of food grains including maize, sorghum, millet, rice and cowpeas are lost after harvest in West Africa.

Ineffective or inappropriate food processing technologies, careless harvesting and inefficient post-harvest handling practices, bad roads, moribund rail systems, bad market practices and inadequate or complete lack of storage facilities, packing houses and market infrastructures are some of the factors responsible for high post-harvest food losses in West African countries.

What is Food Processing

Crop Produce Processing and Reasons for Food Processing

Food processing is the change of transformation of plaint, animal or any other material used for food to improve its acceptability and ensure availability of such material all the year round.

Food processing includes food preparation (which makes food item ready for immediate consumption) and food preservation (which preserves food item for future use). Food processing may sometimes cause certain desirable food qualities to be lost e.g. tasks.

Reasons for Food Processing

To improve its digestibility, making it easier for the body to break down the food while it is in the stomach.

To improve its sanitary quality, making it safer to eat by killing harmful micro-organism.

To create desirable flavours which are pleasant to the taste.

To preserve it, so allowing it to be kept over a period saving time and energy.

Principles of Agricultural Processing

Food preservation may target to either the short or long term. Short term preservation may be applicable to horticultural commodities that are consumed relatively soon after harvest. For them the best preservation techniques involves keeping the product alive and respiring.

Shorter preservation does not involve destruction of microorganisms or enzymes, deteriorative reactions will therefore proceed, often at a faster rate due to the stresses imparted during harvesting and handling operations.

Long term preservations encompasses inactivation or control of microorganisms and enzymes and reduction or elimination of chemical reactions that causes food deterioration.

Microorganism may be controlled through the use of heat, cold, dehydration, acid, sugar, salt, smoke, atmospheric composition and radiations.

Mild heat treatments in the range of 82oc to 93oc are commonly used to kill bacteria in low acid food but to ensure spore destruction; temperatures of 121oc wet heat for 15 minutes or longer are required.

Refrigeration and freezing slow microbial growth and may kill a small fraction of microorganisms present in or on a fruit or vegetable, but they do not kill all bacteria.

If all of the water in a product exists in a solid state, growth of microorganisms will be prevented, but growth would resume at the same or perhaps at an even more rapid rate when thawed.

Dehydration serves to remove water required for growth from microbial cells and preserve horticultural crops against microbial deterioration. In a similar fashion, sugar and salts act as preservatives because they cause osmotic dehydration of microbial cells and eventual death.

Control of moisture or RH of the storage environment is an important consideration in terms of desired maintenance of horticultural crop life and undesired preservation of microorganisms.

Food processing includes food preparation (which makes food item ready for immediate consumption) and food preservation (which preserves food item for future use). Food processing may sometimes cause certain desirable food qualities to be lost e.g. tasks

Read Also : Mechanisms in Plant Growth and Development

Methods used in the Preparation and Processing of Foods

Crop Produce Processing and Reasons for Food Processing

By separation and sub-division:

By combination or mixing;

By heating;

By cooing;

By the use of chemical compounds;

By the use of micro-organisms.

Separation and Sub-Division

Separation and subdivision facilitate or increase food palatability or eating quality. Separation involves the removal of undesirable part of the food material which may be distasteful coarse in texture and unattractive in appearance.

For instance, peeling of cassava removes the outer layer which is unpalatable, coarse and unattractive as food.

Paring of yams removes the coarse and less attractive cortex. Sub-division on the other hand, is the removal of part(s) of a food material which may cause fast deterioration of such food through spoilage.

Methods Used in Separation and Sub-division

Cutting – refers to the reduction of food material(s) into small pieces using a knife, matchet or cutlass.

Grinding – cutting food materials (e.g. tomato and pepper) into small pieces or a mash, with the aid of a wooden ladle or a mash stick in a mash bowl, or with a grinding stone set, machines could also be used.

Pounding refers to the reduction of food into coarse or rough pieces or into a smooth mash or paste using a wooden mortar and pestle (e.g. fufu pounding). Blenches also serve similar purposes.

Grating is the rubbing of food materials on a rough surface (usually holed metallic material) e.g. cassava or coconut grating.

Peeling – is the stripping or pulling off of the outer layer of a fruit or vegetable (e.g. banana, cassava or orange). A times, scalding with hot water, steam or a chemical solution may be used to remove the very think skin on foods (e.g. tomatoes).

Paring – refers to the removal of the surface layers of food material (e.g. yams, cocoyam, potatoes) with the aid of a knife.

Scraping in the other hand is the removal of the surface layer of a food material by the application of pressure from a knife edge rather than cutting (e.g. scraping fish scales).

Cracking – is the letting of a hard kernel or nut with a stone or iron rod to remove the monocarp (e.g. palm kernel, coconut, or cashew)

Milling – is the crushing and sifting of grains into flour using a machine.

Other methods of separation and subdivision include filtering floatation pressing, refining, skimming, steeping, evaporation and centrifugation.

Combination or Mixing

This method is used to mix food materials or food ingredients or caused to be combined during food preparation in order to improve the palatability of the end product. This methods also ensures that food texture and flavor can be controlled.

Methods used in Food Combination or Mixing

Beating – mixing materials by briskly lifting and dropping with an appropriate tool. Beating (or whipping) is a rapid beating with a wire whisk, a fork or mechanical beater. It allows air into the food (e.g. when cowpea mash or eggs are whipped to cause the material to become light and fluffy).

Stirring – refers to mixing materials with an appropriate tool such as spoon by a circular motion (e.g. stirring of porridge while cooking).

Blending – mixing two or more ingredients thoroughly (e.g. mixing of corn dough, ground pepper or onions into mashed ripe plantain to make plantain doughnuts)

Stir – pressing – is the pressing and turning of thickened starchy paste with a flat wooden stick, bit by bit, in a circular motion, to prevent lumping while cooking (e.g. during tuwo preparation).

Kneading – refers to the manipulation of food material (tuwo) and liquid by alternating pressure in folding and stretching (e.g. bread dough kneading).

Cutting – is the incorporation of semi-solid fat into flour and other sifted dry ingredients with a knife to produce a coarse division of the fat, as in the preparation of pastry mixture.

Folding – the mixing of materials with an appropriate tool used in a careful lifting and dropping motion (e.g. the folding of ingredients into whipped cowpea in the making of akra or bean nuts.

Other methods include creaming, marinating and emulsification.

Heating as a Preparation and Processing method

Crop Produce Processing and Reasons for Food Processing

All substances contain heat, the intensity depends on the environmental condition prevalent around them.

If the food substance is surrounded or is in direct contact with a heat source higher than itself, it absorbs more heat than it is given out. This causes the temperature of the substance to rise and vice versa.

Heat is used in food preparation for cooking or toasting. Cooking refers to a situation where the entire food mass is affected by heating process at the same time (e.g. soap cooking or yam boiling).

Toasting refers to when the heat primarily affects the surface of the substance (e.g. plantain toasting, or roasting or grilling over a direct heat. Heating of any food substance results in complex changes in the food. These changes are dependent upon various factors:-

The method or the way by which heat is transferred to the food.

The length of time heat is applied to the food.

The temperature reached at the surface and within the centre of the food.

The type of food being heated.

The methods of cooking may be differentiated depending on the media through which the heat is transferred to the food. These include: Air, Water, Sand, Fat.

A combination of two or more of these processing of cereals.

Types of Agricultural Processing

Crop Produce Processing and Reasons for Food Processing

Agricultural processing may be defined as an activity, which is performed to maintain or improve the quality or to change the form or characteristics of the agricultural product.

Processing operations are undertaken to add value to agricultural materials after their production.

The main purpose of agricultural processing is to minimize the qualitative and quantitative deterioration of the material after harvest.

Different types of food processing can be categorized into:

1. Primary processing

Purification of raw materials by removing foreign matter, immature grain and then making the raw material eligible for processing by grading in different lots or conversion of raw material into the form suitable for secondary processing.

2. Secondary processing

Processing of primary processed raw material into product which is suitable for food uses or consumption after cooking, roasting, frying etc.

3. Tertiary processing

Conversion of secondary processed material into ready to eat form. Food items are marketed in different forms as raw, primary processed, secondary processed and tertiary processed.

The farmers in general prefer to sell their agricultural produce immediately after harvest leaving a part for own consumption and seed purposes.

The food processing sector has gained importance due to consumers preferences for ready to cook (RTC) and ready to eat (RTE) foods, besides increased demand for snack foods and beverages.

Sector Wise Food Processing

Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry.

Food processing typically takes clean, harvested crops or slaughtered and butchered animal products and uses these to produce attractive, marketable and often long shelf-life food products. Similar processes are used to produce animal feed.

Fruits and Vegetable Processing

The processed products from fruits and vegetables are beverages, jams, jellies, candies, preserves, canned fruits and vegetables, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, pickles, soup mixes, sauces and ketchups.

Processing of fruits and vegetables involves a series of processes which include pre-coloring washing, grading, treating, storage, dehydration, peeling, slicing, crushing, extraction, bleaching, sterilizing, filling, scaling and sealing of containers.

People generally prefer fresh fruits and vegetables due to abundance of seasonal fruits throughout the year available at low price.

However, in the recent years, processed foods in the form of canned fruits such as pineapple, mango slices and pulps, grapes, apple, peaches etc. have increased considerably.

The uses of fruits in the form of concentrated juice, dry powder, jam and jelly have also increased.

Gari processing cottage industries that processed raw cassava in to garri

Ricemilling: The modern rice mills have separate processing mechanism for dehusking and polishing of the paddy.

The husk can be utilized for energy and for industrial products like furfural and the bran for extraction of edible and non-edible grades oil. These mills also have better recovery and lower energy consumption compared to conventional hullers.

Wheat milling: At present flours made by the roller mills are sold to bakers and confectionery company etc. Sale of soy blended and branded wheat flour is likely to increase due to better quality flour and thus scope of organized wheat milling will increase in future.

Pulsemilling: Pulses are the major sources for protein for the vegetarians.

Oilextraction: Oil extraction has been a cottage level activity in the country through the numerous oil mills. The introduction of high capacity mechanical expellers and solvent extraction technology has brought in modernization.

Small capacity oil expellers have been introduced which could be installed in rural areas for promoting agri-business and that might provide more employment.

Soybean is not only a good source of oil but also rich in protein. Soymilk analogues, nuggets and soy-blends are now marketed

Processing of commercial crops: Sugarcane, rubber, cocoa, oil palm, tea and coffee are major commercial crops grown in Nigeria and a processed into variety of products

Read Also : Photosynthesis, Plant Growth and Partitioning of Assimilate

Packed and convenience food: Modern packed and convenience foods such as bread, biscuit, confectionery, chocolates, ready to eat foods like noodles, cereal flakes, etc have become popular in recent years especially in urban areas although traditional foods have been used in the country in the form of roasted, puffed, sweet meat and baked products.

In summary, agricultural processing may be defined as an activity, which is performed to maintain or improve the quality or to change the form or characteristics of the agricultural product.

Processing operations are undertaken to add value to agricultural materials after their production. The main purpose of agricultural processing is to minimize the qualitative and quantitative deterioration of the material after harvest.

Purification of raw materials by removing foreign matter, immature grain and then making the raw material eligible for processing by grading in different lots or conversion of raw material into the form suitable for secondary processing.

Food items are marketed in different forms as raw, primary processed, secondary processed and tertiary processed. The farmers in general prefer to sell their agricultural produce immediately after harvest leaving a part for own consumption and seed purposes.

The food processing sector has gained importance due to consumers preferences for ready to cook (RTC) and ready to eat (RTE) foods, besides increased demand for snack foods and beverages.

Read Also: Benefits of Forest and Wildlife Resources

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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