Essential Features of Local Food Fermentations in Nigeria
M.U. Ukwuru*, E.U. Monday
Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal Polytechnic, Idah, P.M.B. 1037, Kogi State, Nigeria.
The essential and unique features of traditional food fermentation processes in Nigeria were reviewed. Fermentation which has been an age-long biotecnological process is still relevant in the present dispensation. Nigeria has many varieties of fermented foods whose fermentation processes remain a household art. These involve both solid state and submerged liquid fermentations. Temperature, pH, water activity and oxygen availability are all parameters that affect the rate of fermentation but their measurements are not scientifically done. Conditions are created to optimize these parameters in order to achieve proper fermentation. The effective management of these fermentation conditions results in the appropriate biomass concentrations needed for each type of fermentation which is spontaneous. Plant and animal materials form the substrate for their fermentations while the microorganisms play important roles by modifying the substrate physically, nutritionally and organoleptically. Fermentation time varies depending on the substrate, environmental conditions and the nature of product desired. Fermentation environment has often led to high variability in product quality. The fermenters are rudimentary but achieve the type of fermentation desired of a product. Fermentation handlers fall short of standard hygienic practice but the fermented foods have enjoyed a well founded safety and fair keeping quality. There is high prospect for local food fermentation in Nigeria because of high patronage and acceptance. There is however, still a need for improvement in hygiene standard in the processing environment, packaging and the use of starter culture for the fermentation processes.
Key words: Local food fermentation, Nigeria, Features, Fermentation measurements, Fermentation conditions.