Edible cassava flour can be produced from Cassava chips but such chip has to be food grade. As a matter of fact, it is more economical and considerably cheap, and also less complicated to produce cassava flour through the usage of food grade cassava Chips that the standard method. And this also gives room for easier modifications that can produce flour with better properties for utilizations in baking and confectioneries production.
However, it is essential that we ensure that the cassava chips deployed for this purpose is of high food grade standard. In process, food grade cassava Chips is not handled same way we produce cassava Chips meant for industrial usages in livestock feeds and ethanol production. Its handling require deliberate attention to avoid contamination, infestation and dirt. More essential is need to consciously reduce the cyanide content in the dried chips to a bearable food safety level. Of utmost importance is also the whiteness of the finished dried chips, which is a major determinant of its final flour quality.
Conscious effort to initiate a controlled dry state fermentation in the peeled, cleaned and chipped tubers over a period of time plus the long exposure to the dehydrating temperature (not gelatinization temperature) is enough to deplete the cyanide content to a safety level for consumption. In addition, the specific modification engaged during the period of dry state fermentation enables the increase of the protein content of the chips to a considerable level that is enough to improve the quality of its flour for a better baking quality.
Apart from the fact that many of the regular wheat flour in the market are being compounded with up to 5% from the manufacturers’ end, bread bakers are also experimenting and engaging in usage of cassava flour even up to 20% composition depending on each baker’s ingenuity. Beside, the increase in protein level in the cassava flour due to the modification in the chips production also make up for non availability of gluten in the cassava flour and its purpose in quality dough formation.
Gradually, this path to low cost cassava flour production and its adaptability to improve baking quality will not only reduce the forex demand pressure on Nigeria economy but will also create more involvement in the cassava flour production economy. While more bakers are embracing the usage of cassava flour as composites in their production, Consumers also need to develop interest for local production and embrace new organoleptic properties that may likely arise from this emerging adoption of cassava flour as an alternative to wheat flour.
The bread economy in Africa is so huge and highly important to our daily lives that we cannot continue to leave it at the mercy of foreign importation. The recent scarcity of wheat supply to Africa as a fall out of the war between Russia and Ukraine is a big lesson.
NOTE: “Lafun”; a popular cassava base food item in Yoruba land, produced through submerged fermentation method may not be regarded as food grade cassava chips or flour in this context of application. The characteristic smell peculiar to “Lafun” is one of the attributes that makes it non suitable for application in industrial flour composition.