The Western Mindanao State University’s College of Home Economics recently conducted a training on food processing to the women’s association of Zone 5, Barangay La Paz on February 25, 2014.
The training was headed by Mr. Bryan Bondoc of CHE with the assistance of the College of Social Work and Community Development headed by Dr. Chester Coronel.
Armed with skills and the vision to extend help to the community members in the rural area, the CHE trainers shared and demonstrated two recipes using a local ingredient—coconut. The products were Grilled Coconut Rice Cake, locally known as “Tupig” in some parts of Luzon, and the Coco Jam or popularly known as “Aleya” in Zamboanga City.
The first agenda was a lecture by Ms. Roxanne Jane Catubay on Basic Food Handling and Sanitation techniques. The goal of the lecture was to ensure that the local women are also aware of the correct food handling procedures before they start processing food items. As basic as it may seem, cleanliness in the work area and personal hygiene is necessary to ensure that the food will not be contaminated and is safe to take.
The first demonstration was the Grilled Coconut Rice Cake that was presented by Mr. Niccolo Aquino and Ms. Estefany Bucoy. The participants were amazed that simple ingredients like coconut meat, coconut milk, ground sticky rice, and sweeteners can create such a delightful treat. Volunteers were accepted for the return-demo. The women were very receptive and were eager to learn. They were even able to come up with a local term right after. They called it “suman asao” – derived from its cooking style which is to grill or “asa” in Chavacano.
The second demonstration was the Coco Jam by Ms. Laarni Buenaventura. Unlike the home made counterpart, this version is standardized—meaning it has the right balance of sweetness and creaminess, and the texture is more consistent. If processed accordingly, it may last in room temperature for 6 months or more. To have a longer shelf life, the bottle must undergo sterilization in the autoclave, but since the absence of such a tool, they were taught how to improvise by doing the water bath technique. Water bath is a process where the bottled product is submerged in hot water to allow unwanted air, which causes bacterial growth, inside the bottle of the finished product to be expelled. The process retains the freshness of the product and eliminates the chance of premature expiration.
The spirit of Bayanihan is noticeable among the people of La Paz as they warmly welcomed the representatives from CHE. They even served their local produce—boiled bananas and grilled cassava, paired with the coco jam. WMSU-CHE looks forward to extending its assistance to the community in any way possible. (Niccolo Aquino – CHE, WMSU)