I wanted everyone to know about a old form of food preservation used at South Pacific Islands and in some parts of tropical Asia. Pits were dug in the soil to ferment fruit or starch food. I understand they were about 8 feet deep and lined and covered on top with banana leaves. It becomes like a sour pudding and can last and remain edible over 20 years in the pit, which is really amazing! It was a way to preserve food, used in the daily diet and always helped people survive on tropical islands the year after a hurricane when food trees and crops had been injured. I think there are a few pits still in use in Fiji and a few still in Asia, but as fridges come into the rural areas they are disappearing. Thats all the info i have found on this so far. No one is doing this here in Hawaii yet, as far as i know. I wonder if it requires an onnoculant or starter. I also wonder if it could be done on the mainland, just being buried deeper than the freeze line and covered thick on top with straw and soil layers. Canna is a temperate plant that could replace the banana leaves in lining the pit. Wish i knew more about this, let me know anymore on this Aloha, Kay
posted 6 years ago
Someone from another website i had posted kindly sent me link to scientific paper on the topic of old methods of food preservation. Here is a paragraph concerning the above post and here is the link http://www.aseanbiotechnology.info/Abstract/21030270.pdf Pit fermentations
Lactic acid fermentations include the “pit” fermentations in the
South Pacific Islands. They have been used for centuries by the
Polynesians to store and preserve breadfruit, taro, banana and
cassava tubers (Steinkraus 1986; Aalbersberg and others 198.
The fermented pastes or whole fruits, sometimes punctured, are
placed in leaf-lined pits. The pits are covered with leaves and the
pits are sealed. It has recently been found that pit fermentations
are lactic acid fermentations (Aalbersberg and others 198 The
low pH and anaerobic conditions account for the stability of the
foods. An abandoned pit estimated to be about 300 years old
contained breadfruit still in edible condition.
In Ethiopia, pulp of the false banana (Ensete ventricosum) is
also fermented in pits (Steinkraus 1983a). It undergoes lactic acid
fermentation and is preserved until the pit is opened. Then the
mash is used to prepare a flat bread kocho-a staple in the diet of
millions of Ethiopians.;
So did you read that part, 300 year old edible food!!! Ensete takes quite a bit of work to process, than the other foods mentions. But it can tolerate cooler tempertures. Could be grown outside in zone 9, and in colder regions in pots and brought in the house or greenhouse for a year or two before being processed and put in the pit.
This is a living food.
Most of these foods mentioned in the paper contain good kind bacteria for proper gut flora that can help with immune system and other health benefits. Great for preppers, long term food storage system along with health benefits. I have 2 young maafala breadfruit trees and some bananas. Aloha, Kay
Thank you for posting this, it is very interesting!
posted 6 years ago
Been researching this evening and have run across a paper on Micronesian breadfruit preservation with some comparisons to the Polynesion method of preservation. The paper collected info from each island on their preservation methods.
I always find Ponape island history interesting because of the ancient stone city of Nan Madol. At Nan Madol are many giant monolithic pieces of basalt that is part of a complex along the coast. There is knowledge of the people that lived there until the 1600s'. How the huge pieces of stone got there is A BIG MYSTERY. Science does not have answer. It was not mined from that island.
The results of a 1982 survey of megalithic stone structures in Ponape are evidence of 4 prehistoric stone fermentation pits are reported in the complex. It is assumed to be for breadfruit, probably, but not known for sure.
In the Marquesas island near Tahiti in 1811, someone by the name Kruzenshtern described a fermentation pit from the Atu Ona valley that was 8 m deep! Linton (1923, as quoted in Handy, 1923) described a fermentation pit 6 m in diameter and 10 m deep! ...That said 10 meters! Maybe a misprint, maybe not. That is a darn deep pit, but quite possible. Would take thousands of breadfruit to fill it up. Sure would provide food security. Aloha, Kay
Here is the address of the the paper...http://www.springerlink.com/content/h14372v3812612r0/fulltext.pdf?bmi_MfsTid=1999328180724677402&MUD=MP
This is a remarkable way to preserve food. It might not work well in areas that have freezing ground, but if you could do it in a container, possibly in a cellar or something, it would be very good.
Any ideas on how too actually do it? I don't have a lot of bananas or breadfruit lying around, but I do have things like carrots, radishes, swede, potatoes, winter squash, etc that are all fairly starchy and might be good candidates for this.
I don't know much about fermenting foods (except when producing alcohol), but I assume you mix the feedstock with water, warm it up, through in a bacteria starter, and close it off, right?
Abe, i started another thread about a month ago on the topic of Temperate Pit fermentation. I posted links on cabbage pit fermentation used in the old days in Europe and a type of pit fermentation of radish in the Himalayas that would appear to work in a more arid climate. Take a look for more details, its about the 3rd thread down in preservation. Aloha Kay