Plant Based Cracker/Chips Making

Clients request was making mushroom chips. Prior to this, several persons were asking me if they can make crackling or chips out of vegetables. Teach them the trick in case.

First we analyze. Starting with the meat and fish. Every time mom ask us to fry some fresh fish, we set aside some to fry it to brittleness. Basically, after the fish is done and the cooking is continued, more and more water is driven out until it turn brown and brittle. Fish and meat seem to be more enjoyable when it crack in between teeth. The fatty meat portion, the popular pork back-fat, tends to bubble that gives chicharon its characteristic looks.

Now we go on plant-based. The popular for this are corn, rice, potato, banana and cassava. Potato, banana and cassava can be sliced thinly and fried to achieved the desired crisp. The same commodities together with the rest can be ground, reformed and mixed with flavors to create variants. Veggies and fish crackers are made by grinding, mixing with powder (the previous I’ve mentioned) drying, then frying. It may imitate the appearance of pork chicharon depending on trick employed.

The first requirement is obvious. It must be dry. All moisture must be driven out. The covering of chicken leg and nugget can be made crispy but it won’t last long because the inside moisture will sip out and the outside air moisture will come in. The reason why french fries only last for few minutes and one must consume a bag of potato chips immediately after opening. Refrigeration keeps the crisp longer because the equipment sucks away moisture.

The second requirement is starch. All the popular chips have this in common. They are all rich in starch. Rolling chicken leg and shrimp in cornstarch or all purpose flour make them crispy on the outside while maintaining inside juiciness. For just money sake, one can make very cheap cracker by mixing flour, cornstarch, rice powder and flavorings.

There might be other things to consider in meat fatty tissues. However, we are focus on plant-based products at the moment. We will forget about the meat thing.

I observed the mushroom chips in supermarket and grocery stores. All of them are covered with cornstarch. The basic is this. First, the mushroom is dried, then dipped in beaten egg, rolled on cornstarch (or maybe tapioca), then lastly, fried. It might be the only way. But, the roasted peanut seller can make the garlic crispy without adding anything.

I tried series of trial and error and came up with few acceptable results. In the end, they choose the trial covered with egg and starch.

mushroom chicharon

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Boiled Saba Banana

I have been wondering why I can eat two ripe saba banana without feeling anything. On the other hand one boiled and I feel so full. It has something to do with the water and starch content I think. With heat and water, starch in bananas coagulates resulting in increased weight and firmer texture. That’s probably the reason why boiled banana is heavier in tummy.

boiled saba banana with a bite

I think I experimented with it before. Oh! here it is. Boiled Saba Banan Can Make You Fuller.

Note: there are two banana types. The boiling and eating banana. The latter significantly lacks starch. The result after boiling is a saggy unappealing meal.

Why boil banana if it can be eaten as ripe, uncooked? For nutritional reasons. Both fruit and skin contains nutrients. Water with heat extracts them both. Then we eat the fruit and throw away the peel and water. Ridiculous. We spent time, effort and energy extracting nutrients only to throw them away.

To extend shelf life somehow. Banana is a climacteric fruit. It will continue to ripen after harvest. The closer it gets to full ripe the closer the spoilage is. Cooking it at a right timing may extend keeping life to one day at room temperature and several days in a chiller.

Boiling raw saba banana is not a good idea. What you gonna ate is though and awful snack. Not to mention peeling them off is hard. Banana will ripen one way or the other. It is better wait than be sorry.

Fit few for many. The first paragraph explained it already.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Banana Peel Has High Dopamine Content

When preparing fruits and vegetables, it is recommended to peel as thin as possible to conserve nutrients. They are more concentrated toward the peels. The thicker outside covering removed, the more nutrients gone to waste.

Some vegetables are normally peeled but opting not also works. In such cases, cooking/eating them as is, is a good idea. Common examples are papaya, sayote, kalabasa and sponge gourd.

Green papaya and sayote for cooking tinola. I have never experimented and read about yellow papaya peels. Young green squash. I saw my colleague did this.  Matured squashed with hard orange skin should be peeled. Sponge gourd wedge are usually removed because they are hard when bought from marketplace. Growers wait for this stage to get bigger harvest and more income. Wedge together with skin are perfectly edible when soft enough.

Others are simply discarded due to their bland or astringent taste. The rind of watermelon and santol. With little processing knowledge and some work, these could be transformed to delectable sweets. See “How to Make Sweet Nata de Pakwan (?) From Watermelon Peels” and “How To Make Santol Peels Candy“.

What if the separation between flesh and peel is very distinct. The peel in its entirety is coming off with ease. Thin removal is not viable. We cannot do anything about it even if we know its nutrient content is very high.

A perfect case for banana. Japan scientists found out very high levels of dopamine in banana Musa cavendishii, ranging from 80-560 per 100g peel. It is indeed very high compared to 2.5-10 mg in pulp.

If we weigh usefulness according to nutrient levels. Throwing away the flesh and eating the peel is better.  The taste is not so nice but can be remedied by some cooking trick. Read the following posts for reference:

According to the same study, dopamine is antioxidant even stronger than glutathione. It is popularly known as neurotransmitters. Important in overall body functions and prevents the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

Reference: High Content of Dopamine, a Strong Antioxidant, in Cavendish Banana
Kazuki Kanazawa and Hiroyuki Sakakibara
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2000, 48 (3), pp 844–848
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf9909860

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Banana Chips Technolgy, Including Root Crops

The main material for making banana chips is raw saba banana. Ripe has increased sugar which makes the middle of slices go brown before the entire slice turn crispy. It also has lower starch and higher moisture content which makes cooking difficult. I think turning it to crisp is impossible.

Any cooking banana can be made into chips. Eating bananas are not. Saba are cooking bananas while latundan, lakatan and cavendish are eating bananas. Want to know their differences aside from the very obvious shape? In both ripe conditions, cooking bananas hold it shape during boiling while eating bananas do not. The latter become saggy.

Because it is made of raw banana, many producers add commercially available banana flavor. It’s a bit odd but true. Buy some properly labeled chips there and you will see… I felt nostalgic about the training I conducted. The seminar organizer asked me why my cooking tasted like raw banana. My answer was obvious. No need to mention.  Additional flavoring prevents this cases from occurring.

Use separate oil batches for first and second frying. The latter absorbs sugars which burns in subsequent use. Both oil batches maybe cleaned for several use by allowing sugar crystals and broken chips settle to bottom and decanting after.

If you feel the cassava you are working with is too hard, stop and discard them away. They are probably past harvest maturity and might contain considerable amount cyanogen, a paralytic compound.

Be aware of potatoes with green peels. The green substance is called solanin. It is poisonous. Scrape the green part off and the rest can be used safely.

Procedure:

1) Prepare syrup by mixing one kg sugar with one liter water. Boil for 30 minutes. Cool. Adjust sweetness intensity by adding or lessening sugar quantity. Use refractometer for better accuracy.
2) Select bananas. Wash it thoroughly until all the adhering dirt are removed.
3) Peel by cutting both ends, making a single longitudinal slit and lifting the skin off with knife. It is tricky and hard at first but you’ll get used to it eventually.
4) Place in basin of water to prevent browning and wash off latex.
5) Slice uniformly. Thickness should be 1/16 inch. Use a guided knife, a manual slicer or a machine slicer capable of high speed work.
6) Heat the cooking oil up to 270°F. In absence of candy thermometer, monitor by placing a slice in oil, it is ready when rapid bubbling appears on sides. Cook for 15 minutes or until crispy. Remove from oil and cool.
7) Soak in syrup for 3 minutes. Drain. Store remaining syrup and use for next batches.
8) Cooked in oil (270°F) for 5 to 10 minutes. Separate sticking pieces.
9) Remove from oil. Place on manila paper or clean towel to drain off excess oil. Turn to facilitate draining.
10) Pack in PP bags or other suitable containers.

Sugar Free?

Skip steps 7-9 and you have it. You may sprinkle powdered flavorings instead. Like barbecue, cheese and chili.

Taro/Gabi, Cassava/Kamoteng Kahoy and Potato Chips?

The same slicing and frying procedure apply. However, pay close attention to frying time as they get cooked in seconds and burnt easily. Jollibee and McDonalds french fries cooking trick is awesome for this. The specially made frying strainer allow quick dipping in and removal from hot oil. If you’re a fan of these two fast-food chain then you already seen how it works.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Banana Lakatan Hotcake

Yet another yummy recipe I prepared this afternoon. Hotcake is a good and easy to prepare merienda. However, it has a plane boring flavor. Repetitive preparations makes it more boring.  I was thinking what ingredient could I use to make it more exciting. It so happened I saw a hand of ripe lakatan banana. Voila! my kids love banana. Using this as ingredient will surely make hotcake not only taste better but will also make it healthier and save my kids from boredom.

banana lakatan hotcakeHere is my short and easy recipe. Try it!

Ingredients:

1 box Maya the original hotcake mix 200 grams
1 medium size egg
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup water
5 lakatan banana, slices

Cooking Procedure:

In a mixing bowl, beat one egg lightly. Add in oil and water. Add hotcake mix and lakatan banana. Stir until slightly lumpy. Do not over mix. In a pan, pour cooking oil or batter and heat. Scoop one or two spoons and fry until bubbly. Turn to cook the other side. Repeat for the rest of ingredients. Serve hot with syrup or butter.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.