Processing cassava roots

Ghana: women pressing cassava pulp
FAO/18301/P. Cenini

Although the roots of some varieties of cassava can be eaten raw or cooked like potatoes, many contain high levels of toxic cyanogenic glucosides that must be removed before they can be eaten. These toxins are extracted by peeling and grating the root to make a pulp, which is then put in sacks and left to ferment slightly before being pressed, dried and roasted.

The cassava flour that is produced through this process is the basic ingredient in a wide variety of traditional dishes. In Brazil, the cassava flour is known as farinha de mandioca and in West Africa, gari. In other parts of Africa, the fermented cassava pulp is pounded into a paste, known as foo-foo.

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More photos on cassava:
  • Malawi: a scientist examines a cassava plant
  • Ghana: women peeling cassava roots

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