Use of banana blossom to enhance the nutrient content of bean soup
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The banana plant (Musa spp.) is widely grown in Uganda. Its fruit is a good source of carbohydrates and potassium. The other plant parts such as the shoot when fresh or dried are utilized for traditional, packaging and storage functions. In Uganda the cooking banana fruits are eaten as a staple while the blossom is usually thrown away. However, banana blossom has been reported to be edible in different parts of the world. Under this study, banana blossoms were assessed for use as a nutrient enhancer in bean soup. Samples of banana blossoms from the East African Highland bananas (Mpologoma variety) were harvested, washed, sliced, soaked in 0.2% citric acid solution and dried at 60℃ for 2 hours and 30 minutes in a cabinet drier. The dried samples were then ground into powder, tested for proximate composition (moisture, protein and dietary fiber content) and physico-chemical properties. The powder was added to two bean soups, one with 0.2% salt and the other without salt, at 5% and 10%. The proximate and physicochemical properties of the Banana Blossom Powder (BBP) were determined using Association of Analytical Chemists standard methods whereas the sensory acceptability of the bean soup containing BBP was rated on a nine-point hedonic scale by 20 male and 10 female, untrained students from the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-systems engineering at Makerere University. The results indicate that the moisture, protein and dietary fiber content were 5.96%, 19.80% and 15.13% respectively. The Water Absorption Capacity, Swelling Capacity and Water Solubility Index of the BBP were 398.11%, 4.74% and 6.28% respectively. The sensory acceptability of the bean soup containing the BBP was within the range of 2.20-5.00. The sample with 5% BBP and salt had an acceptability of 5.00 which was not significantly different from the bean soup without the BBP (5.67). The results showed the potential of banana blossom powder to contribute to the nutrition value of local diets.
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