How to Make Banana Beer


Banana Beer is widely produced and consumed in Africa. In the Philippines, I have not heard anyone producing banana beer, although we have a lot of banana plantation. So for those interested of brewing this kind of beer, read on.

Banana beer is made from bananas, mixed with a cereal flour (often sorghum flour) and fermented to an orange, alcoholic beverage. It is sweet and slightly hazy with a shelf-life of several days under correct storage conditions. There are many variations in how the beer is made. For instance Urwaga banana beer in Kenya is made from bananas and sorghum or millet and Lubisi is made from bananas and sorghum.

Preparation of Raw Materials

Ripe bananas (Musa spp.) are selected. The bananas should be peeled. If the peels cannot be removed by hand then the bananas are not sufficiently ripe.

Processing

The first step of the process is the extraction of banana juice. Extraction of a high yield of banana juice without excessive browning or contamination by spoilage micro-organisms and proper filtration to produce a clear product is of great importance. Grass is used as an aid in obtaining clarified juice.

One volume of water is added to every three volumes of banana juice. This makes the total soluble solids low enough for the yeast to act. Cereals are ground and roasted and added to improve the colour and flavour of the final product. The mixture is placed in a container, which is covered in polythene to ferment for 18 to 24 hours. The raw materials are not sterilised by boiling and therefore provide an excellent substrate for microbial growth. It is essential that proper hygienic procedures are followed and that all equipment is thoroughly sterilised to prevent contaminating bacteria from competing with the yeast and producing acid instead of alcohol. This can be done by cleaning with boiling water or with chlorine solution. Care is necessary to wash the equipment free of residual chlorine as this would interfere with the actions of the yeast. Strict personal hygiene is also essential.

For many traditional fermented products, the micro-organisms responsible for the fermentation are unknown to scientists. However there has been research to identify the micro-organisms involved in banana beer production. The main micro-organism involved, is Saccharomyces cerevisiae which is the same organism involved in the production of grape wine. However many other micro-organisms associated with the fermentation have been identified. These varied according to the region of production.

After fermentation the product is filtered through cotton cloth.

Packaging and Storage

Packaging is usually only required to keep the product for its relatively short shelf-life. Clean glass or plastic bottles are used. The product is kept in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

Source: www.fao.org, photo courtesy of www.ratebeer.com

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