What the consumers could benefit from the saba banana as pinoy fries.  

Several years back, at the old Agri-Kapihan which we started in 1986, Dr. Concepcion Lizada demonstrated how to make the equivalent of French fries with the use of the Saba banana. Dr. Lizada was then head of the Post-harvest Research and Training Center (PHRTC) in Los Baños.

Dr. Lizada called them “Pinoy Fries.” We have not seen any local entrepreneur picking up the idea, so we are bringing it out here in the hope that some enterprising soul might pick it up not only for his or her own benefit but also for the consumers as well as the farmers.

Unripe fully mature green saba banana fruits are best for making Pinoy Fries.

Pinoy Fries are similar to French fries but Dr. Lizada thinks the former is much better, more affordable, and the raw materials are available throughout the year in practically every place in the Philippines.

Pinoy Fries are made of the fully developed but unripe fruit of the Saba banana. The fruit is peeled, sliced in much the same way as the potato for French fries, then deep-fried in cooking oil. There’s no need to add anything—just pure sliced Saba banana. You don’t have to add any sugar or salt. Just right for advocates of organically produced food.

The product tastes great. It is crisp and crunchy even when it has cooled down. French fries, on the other hand, usually become limp and soggy after they have cooled down. Not the Pinoy Fries, according to Dr. Lizada.

The product can also be made at home. The raw materials can be prepared beforehand and stored in the refrigerator for future frying. It is just a simple technology but the impact and significance can be tremendous because it is something that can be made for home use or it can be made into a commercial product offered to the public in restaurants, food stands, and the like.

Pinoy Fries could be an ideal snack offering in schools because it is certainly much more nutritious than the ubiquitous junk food. It should be a hit wherever there are sports activities and in crowded food courts in shopping centers.

What this means is that enterprising individuals not only in the city but also in the provinces could make thriving businesses out of this simple technology. It could trigger better income opportunities for banana growers themselves.

Pinoy Fries, by the way, were discovered by accident by specialists of the PHRTC in the course of their research on post-harvest handling of fruits. They liked the product, and would like to disseminate the know-how for making it to the public as widely as possible.

This story appeared in Agricultural Monthly’s February 2017 issue.