Evaluation of techniques for drying goat meat: moving local knowledge from fish to goat meat, Malawi
The need for high-iron-containing animal protein products that are safe, cheap, and suitable for dietary diversification within rural communities presents a development challenge in Malawi. Although fish drying is widely practised, the drying of high-iron-containing goat meat is not well established. In this study, techniques for drying goat meat were established by borrowing from local practices of fish preservation in Malawi. Goat meat and fish samples in pieces of varying sizes were prepared as follows: 1) 6 per cent vinegar soak; 2) 6 per cent lemon juice soak; 3) salt dry rub; or 4) no marinade. The study results describe 576 samples, dried with a solar dehydrator (n = 192), an electric oven (n = 192), or a wood-fired drum oven (n = 192). The costs were lower for drying fish than for drying goat meat. Although the solar dehydrator offered good potential for drying goat meat, the presence of mould and insects on the samples and the long drying time were trade-offs. Inconsistent product quality was found with the drum oven, necessitating its further refinement. The electric oven was not suitable for rural communities. Within the larger context of supporting rural communities in Southern African countries through innovative developments to improve their diets and health, processing small pieces of goat meat with the solar dehydrator during the dry season (in line with practical national food safety guidelines that should be established) combined with promoting consumption of the product in the rainy season offers the greatest potential.