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On My Cookshelf: Traditional Foods, Processing For Profit

by on March 1, 2015

Traditional Foods: Processing For Profit


Many authors; Edited by Peter Fellows


ITDG Publishing, London


Great detail on each product

A good variety of produce from various parts of the world

Clear process flowcharts in each recipe


Some of the 'recipes' don't specify quantities of raw materials and expected results. e.g. the fruit leather I made didn't say how much fruit to use versus the size of the pan

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This is a book I love. 

Love, love, love.

I bought it on a whim at CSS Bookstore last year. I flicked through it, and loved it.

It touches on so many things I dream and hope for Nigeria and Nigerian kitchens. Everything from using produce in season, to preservation and new food combinations.

‘Eating is an Agricultural act’; Wendell Berry

Like Wendell, I believe that food is more than eating. 

‘Traditional foods’ is about  processing different food products and turning them into commodities. It documents, and richly too the techniques for foods from Asia, to Africa and across Latin America. In doing so, it touches on two things that are of utmost importance to me – Reducing Food Waste and Growing/Documenting Nigerian cuisine and our research capacity.

Personally, I believe that we can alleviate poverty in Africa. To do this though, our food systems must be efficient and sustainable across the entire value chain, from farm to fork. If we can enhance food security and reduce food waste, we have significant potential to transform our society. 

Reduce food waste. This is my passion

I remember going to buy tomatoes at a market a few years ago. I was shocked at the amount of waste. I remember my mum telling me that rotten tomatoes get composted a lot in various parts of Nigeria. The first thing that came to my mind was ‘preservation’. Why can’t we preserve the excess – sun-dry, make puree, do more? This is the essence of the New Nigerian Kitchen – taking well known and loved ingredients, learning more about them and exploring them in new recipes.

Enter ‘Traditional Foods’, first published in 1997 and reprinted in 2003. ‘Traditional Foods’ with its numerous ideas.


I like that the writers and editors and publisher are clear on who this book is targeted at, and how they can help.

So, who is this book for? New producers just starting a food processing business, producers of food products looking ‘to upgrade traditional processes and improve product quality (safety and acceptability), owners of small businesses/ people seeking inspiration for new products in developing or growing a product range and I guess the average citizen interested in how things are made.


Like me. Who’s experimented with homemade sardines, butterextracts and more.

How should you use this book? Well, there isn’t a single prescribed way to use it. On the ‘How to use this book’ page, suggestions are that one might:

  • Browse through the while book for ideas which might be appropriate to your situation
  • Identify a commodity which is in plentiful supply in your area and look in the relevant chapter, or in the index, for ideas
  • Look at the first page of each chapter of Part Two to identify foods from your continent…
  • Some of the products include notes suggesting variations to the ingredients or finishing touches,…

The book is split into two parts – Processing and Products.

The Processing section is interesting and gives excellent detail – everything from the building/ processing facility layout (including lighting and wall design) to sanitation & hygiene, processing methods and more. 

And I think of us in Nigeria, and how much progress we’re making – I mean look at the good work we’ve done with Abacha and Banga. And I’m thinking of the awesome things we could do with tomatoes and peppers and more. 


It has technical and complex processing methods broken down, like how to calculate the preservation index, assessing acid levels….

The Storage and Quality assurance sections provide useful information


Part Two focuses on products – this is the meat of the matter.

Each chapter has a number of ‘recipes’ and guides. The general format for each recipe is the same. It begins with a product description followed by the Principles of preservation and processing. A section on hygiene follows before you get to the required ingredients, process control and quite importantly packaging and storage, as well as the equipment needed.

One of the most helpful things in each product guide is the process flowchart. It details the key processes, with numerous notes which touch on the why and how and when.

With recipes for everything from extracting Papain from green pawpaw, Rich fruit cake, Pineapple peel vinegar and Gari to name a few, I was an am still excited.

I tried out a recipe for fruit leather with agbalumo.


 Fruit leather – dried sheets of fruit pulp.


Very interesting experience. So much possibility and without this book, I doubt I’d ever have had the confidence to try it

I’m so glad I did buy it. There’s so much more to learn about products, particularly using in-season fruits and vegetables.

Want a copy? Contact

CSS Bookshop

Bookshop House, 50/52 Nnamdi Azikiwe Street

Lagos island


Telephone:  234 – 1 462 2593


And they’ll respond. I remember once looking for one of the earliest Nigerian cookbooks – Kudeti Cookbook. I lived in Port Harcourt. I rang them and they did send the books from Lagos once I had paid.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]On My Cookshelf: Traditional Foods, Processing For Profit – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]

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Bottom Line

Buy this book if you have want to learn how a variety of food products are made and if have the faintest desire to start a food 'cottage' industry and make food products.

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