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Study through surveys and fermentation kinetics of the traditional processing of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) into ben-saalga, a fermented gruel from Burkina Faso

Tou, E.H., Guyot, J.P., Mouquet-Rivier, C., Rochette, I., Counil, E., Traore, A.S., Treche, S.
International journal of food microbiology 2006 v.106 no.1 pp. 52-60
Pennisetum glaucum, food grains, complementary foods, traditional foods, traditional technology, lactic fermentation, starter cultures, lactic acid bacteria, kinetics, processing stages, fermented foods, nutritive value, phytic acid, galactosides, amylose, lactic acid, pH, titratable acidity, plate count, yeasts, aerobes, infant feeding, energy density, nutrient content, Burkina Faso
Traditional cereal-based fermented foods are frequently used as complementary foods for infants and young children in Africa. This is the case for ben-saalga, a popular fermented gruel produced from pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in Burkina Faso. Detailed knowledge of traditional processing is a prerequisite for investigating ways to improve both the nutritional and sanitary qualities of the corresponding foodstuff. In this work, the traditional processing of pearl millet into ben-saalga was investigated in 24 production units, and fermentation kinetics were studied in pilot scale experiments. Processing steps include: washing (optional), soaking of the grains (first fermentation step), grinding and sieving of the wet flour, settling (second fermentation step), and cooking. The soaking step was mainly characterized by alcoholic fermentation whereas lactic acid fermentation occurred during the settling step. Fermentation kinetics during settling indicates a temporal variation of metabolic activity. Initially, both homofermentative and heterofermentative pathways were simultaneously active, and later only a homofermentative pathway was active. The paste produced at the end of settling had a low pH (4.0 ± 0.4) and its microflora was dominated by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) with an amylolytic LAB/LAB ratio of 12%. Sucrose disappeared in the grains during soaking but was not detected in the soaking water, whereas glucose, fructose and maltose appeared transiently. Glucose and fructose were the main substrates observed for lactic acid fermentation during the settling step; however unbalanced fermentation led to the hypothesis that starch hydrolysis products may also serve as substrates for lactic acid formation. At the end of the processing, a 75% and 83% decrease was observed in phytate (IP6) and raffinose, respectively. The sour gruel ben-saalga resulting from cooking the sour paste had inadequate nutritional characteristics with respect to infants' and young children's requirements; it was characterized by fluid consistency (Bostwick flow: 137 mm/30 s) and low energy density (about 30 kcal/100 g of gruel).