THE DESCRIPTIONS OF OUR GARRI PROCESSING STEPS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
PEELING: Our freshly harvested cassava roots are peeled immediately after harvesting or at most, a day after harvesting. Peeling must be thorough to avoid the presence of peel fragments in the final product. We peel our cassava roots with knife. The significance of peeling is the removal of brown peel which might affect the color of the garri and increase fiber content.
WASHING: our peeled cassava roots are washed thoroughly in potable water to remove all sand particles and dirt, which could spoil the quality of the final garri.
GRATING: Our clean cassava roots are grated to obtain a mash. Grating is carried out by means of a motorized cassava grater. Grating disintegrates the cassava tissue and frees up the moisture so that mechanical dewatering can be done easily. Cassava starch granules are also partially released due to grating.
Grated cassava mash is loaded in a polypropylene bag and left for between 1 to 5 days to ferment, depending on the taste preferences of the targeted consumer. Fermentation of cassava is an important operation in terms of taste, aroma, safety, and general quality of garri. The acceptability of garri is influenced by its sourness, which is related to the amount of lactic acid or length of fermentation. Consumers in Mamfe town accept a mild, sour taste, so we ferment our cassava paste for 2 days. In order to get off the acidic taste, the cassava mash is fermented longer (3-5 days). Cassava fermentation for garri production occurs through the activities of endogenous microorganisms, mostly lactic acid bacteria, producing lactic acid that reduces the pH of the fermenting mash. Heat is produced in the fermenting mash and pH decreases from near neutral (6.9) to 4.0 or less in 3-5 days of fermentation. The longer the fermentation period the lower the pH of the mash or more sour the garri becomes. Therefore the characteristic flavor of garri is mostly due to the combination of fermentation and roasting.
DEWATERING: The fermented mash is dewatered inside a polypropylene sack by pressing with a manual screw or hydraulic press. Pressing is done principally to reduce the moisture content of the grated mash to 40-50%. Dewatering could be completed within a short time, 15−20 minutes, when high capacity hydraulic systems are used.
DISINTEGRATION AND SIEVING: The cake formed after dewatering is disintegrated or granulated by a hand-held motorized cassava grater. The cake could also be broken up by hand and sieved with a manual woven sieve or rotary sieve, to remove the fiber and lumps (pieces of improperly grated cassava). The improperly grated cassava pieces could be returned to the grater for proper grating or processed further into other types of cassava products. Sieving reduces the formation of lumps during roasting.
ROASTING: The roasting process is done immediately after sieving. We use a frying pan made of molded aluminum or stainless steel, often on a wood fire. Our roasting pan is smeared with a small amount of palm oil prior to roasting. The granules are fed in bits into the hot pan and stirred until an adequate quantity has been fed in. The garri is collected when it is dry and the color becomes creamy. A small amount is often left in the pan to facilitate the roasting of the next batch. Garri flavor develops and become very strong during the roasting. The final moisture content of garri is 8−10%.
COOLING: Roasted garri is allowed to cool for 4-6 hrs in clean containers. As the garri cools, it loses more moisture so becoming drier and crisper.
SIEVING (GRADING): Depending on the preference of consumers, the roasted garri may be sieved to remove big lumps and obtain uniform particle sizes. The coarse granules or lumps are sometimes milled to smaller particle sizes which are either used separately or mixed with the main batch depending on the fineness after milling.
PACKAGING: The sieved garri is packaged in unit packages of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kg depending on the distribution outlet. The packaging materials for 1, 5 and 10 kg are plastic bags and 25 and 50 kg are packaged in polypropylene sacks. Packing is done soon after the garri has sufficiently cooled. Packing in moisture impermeable bags before adequate cooling (and moisture loss) or too late after the garri has re-absorbed moisture will significantly reduce the shelf life of garri. Garri that is properly packaged under the above conditions can be stored for at least a year, as long as the polyethylene lining in the package is not broken. Without the polyethylene lining the product absorbs moisture, loses its crispiness, and is prone to mold growth. Packaged garri should be stored in well ventilated rooms on pallets.
Garri can be eaten in granular form or soaked in cold water with a mixture of sugar, milk, and/or salt. The soaked garri is drank with groundnut, fish, meat or soup/stew/gravy made from protein sources such as beans, meat, and fish. Garri is also mixed with cooked beans for consumption. It is mixed in boiled water to make a fufu that is served with a meat/fish stew or soup.