peArL miLlet nUtRient Enhanced fermented porridge (ALLURE)
About the project
UK-registered Partner: Reading University – Maria Jose Oruna-Concha
Africa-registered Partner: Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) – Kenneth Munene Mbae
Malnutrition among infants is unacceptably high in Kenya with 29% of children in rural areas and 20% in urban areas being stunted. This rises up to 45% in ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid) regions in Kenya.
This project aimed to process pearl millet, suited for ASAL areas in Kenya and well-known for its very good nutritional profile, into a novel fermented pearl millet drink through controlled fermentation to deliver a nutritionally enhanced product of consistent quality. Thus, pearl millet porridge was prepared using both commercially available starter cultures (Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus & mixed cultures containing heterolactic Lactobacillus fermentum and Leuconostoc) as well as the spontaneous/back-slopping fermentation.
Preliminary controlled fermentation was carried out using five commercial cultures. Among them L. plantarum was the best acidifier. The results showed that a combination of L. plantarum and mixed starter containing L.fermentum yielded sensory characteristics close to traditional porridge.
All fermentations reduced the phytic acid content of the porridges and shelf-life trials indicated that they are safe for consumption for up to 14 days under refrigeration. Furthermore, pH controlled, faecal, in vitro batch fermentation of three millet porridge preparations (L. plantarum, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and traditional back-slopping of an existing product) were investigated and compared to a negative control (fermentation with no substrate) and a FOS, prebiotic, positive control.
It was observed that the millet porridge preparations resulted in changes in the microbial community and positive modulation of microbial metabolites, to different extents depending on the starter culture. Therefore the porridges have the potential to impact on health through altering the microbial balance, and metabolite levels within.
This means the starter culture is of great interest in the porridge manufacturing process for optimising the end product and the potential benefits to health.
Learn more about the project in this recording from our recent GCRF AgriFood Africa Project Showcase event.