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Drying and Grinding Moringa Stenopetala

Highlights:

  • Preferable to grind and dry in close proximity to the where the leaves are grown.
  • Drying time: 3.5 days (but you could probably settle for 2 or 2.5).
  • Yield depends on coarseness of grind. I have 2.9 kg of finely ground leaf powder, and 2 kg of less finely ground leaf powder that together were derived from roughly 40 kg of fresh leaves.
  • Different methods of grinding: traditional vs. local mill vs. there’s probably a better way.

After arriving in Awassa with a truckload of fresh moringa stenopetala leaves, it was time to sort and dry the leaves. The optimal method, I believe, would be to sort and process the leaves immediately after picking and in relatively close proximity to the farm or farms from which the leaves were sourced. When you transport moringa, you certainly don’t want to pay the expense of transporting fresh moringa long distances, as it is much heavier than the leaf powder (finished product). Moreover, it is better to process the leaves fresh from the tree, rather than transporting before hand.

Unfortunately, we had to transport the fresh leaves the long 300 km to Awassa. The leaves were picked between approximately 4-7 am on Thursday morning, November 5th. We did not go directly, were not in a hurry, and arrived back in Awassa the evening of Friday, November 6th. Saturday was spent sorting the leaves and then laying them out on a large tarp in a warehouse style building to dry. It was excruciatingly slow work picking the leaves from the stems (again, something I believe could be done much faster and easier when picked fresh – possibly you only pick the leaves the first time through, and then go back and cut the green stems back in order to keep your trees at the proper harvesting height).

The leaves dried until Wednesday, November 11th. On Wednesday we then had a worker grind the leaves with the traditional, large style mortar and pedestal (pics of this process will soon be posted to Lamp Post Photos, link at the right). This yielded about 5.5 kg of ground leaf powder. Desiring a finer powder, I decided to take 3.5 kg to the local mill to see if they could grind it finer.

Yared and I had such severe allergy attacks while in the mill I thought we may both have to leave for lack of air. If it had taken five minutes longer, I am sure I would have had to leave. The air was full of dust, which was actually ground peppers, wheat, flour and anything else you can imagine that is possible to grind.

The owner of the mill, Ato Getu, is quite a gentleman. He wore a top hat and had that gentlemanly look about him, and did not let me down. He took the time to change the filter in one of his old grinders to ensure that we would get the finest quality he could produce. Then, he ground my 3.5 kg for free. Generally, it cost around 5 birr to grind 20-30 kg, depending on the product.

After grinding the 3.5 kg had been reduced to 2.9 kg., but was of a finer consistency. Conducting personal taste tests, I prefer the finer consistency because it is less leaf like to consume – as far as texture is concerned. It is, however, unfortunate, to lose so much of your product in grinding. I am sure you could devise a system that would prevent losing this much product when sieving and grinding.

The next challenge is to research nutritional reports on ground moringa stenopetala leaf powder, and hopefully get the powder we have tested. If anyone has advice on where I may test the nutritional value, and properties of the leaf powder, please let me know. I will be stateside for a month around Christmas, and hope to visit university libraries at that time to see what past research has been produced. I have read some reports claiming that other than vitamin C, very little nutritional value is lost in the drying process. Further, the powder, gram-for-gram, contains much higher levels of nutrients because it is essentially in concentrate form.[1]

Many thanks to Ben Taylor, Yared Sisay, Water is Life International and Selam Awassa Business Group for all of the assistance.

JTV
Awassa, Ethiopia


[1] Trees for Life International, ‘Moringa Presentation,’ http://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa/moringas-potential/moringas-potential

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. cristina #

    hi. i am wodering which has more nutrients. stenopetala or oleifera? Just planted my stenopetala last june 11 and two are growing okay. 2 were late and still small. out of ten seeds i got from the US only 4 germinated.
    my site is crisonthesidelines.wordpress.com

    July 3, 2010
    • John T. Vaughn #

      Cristina,

      Stenopetala and oleifera are actually quite comparable. I might have a document directly comparing the nutritional properties of each. I will try to find it and upload it.

      All the best,
      JT

      September 23, 2010
  2. Pius mutia maithya #

    I live in Eastern part of Kenya (Kitui) and have grown a lot of oleifera variety. I have been griding it into a fine powder and administering it to people with obesity, diabities,high blood pressure and anthrities with astaunding success. It is surprising how people bring positive reports after using it for a while. To boost production, I have developed a big seedling nursery to give the villagers the seedlings free of charge. moringa Oleifera is the plant to grow.

    September 23, 2010
    • John T. Vaughn #

      Jambo Mutia,

      Thanks for your comment. So glad to hear of your moringa project in Kitui! Are you selling the moringa powder or giving it to beneficiaries? If you are selling it, is your business revenue based mainly upon moringa powder sales? How did you learn of moringa? When did you start this project?

      Would love to hear more. Please email me at jtvaughn@gmail.com.

      Asante,
      JT

      September 23, 2010
  3. Pastor Bob Cowan #

    I am just starting a Moringa farm here in Honduras. I am having a hard time finding a leaf crusher…anyone have ideas/knowledge?

    September 16, 2011
    • Angela Lewars #

      Hello Pastor Bob Cowan, Good day to you sir. Did you find a leaf crusher? Is it a crusher or a grinder that you need? If it is a grinder try Compatible Technology International.[C.T.I.] Their Omega VI Grinder is the best for grinding dried Moringa leaves. You can call Brigette or Bert at 651-632-3912. They are really great people and will give you wonderful service. The company is in the USA. I just bought an Omega VI from the company and I am very pleased with the way it works. I live in Jamaica, West Indies. Good luck in this and God bless.

      August 21, 2012
  4. John T. Vaughn #

    As for a leaf crusher – if labor is readily available, I’ve found the best way is to do it by hand with a large mortar and pedestal type device (in Ethiopia, they use this large device to grind coffee or other peppers for spices), and then put the powder through a sieve. Alternatively, you could take the leaves to a local mill, though I always felt the mortar and pedestal achieved better results than the mill I used in Awassa.

    September 19, 2011
  5. Moringa Research Farm (Egypt)

    Our small, 15 feddan farm is just 45 minutes from the Giza pyramids, Greater Cairo, on the Assyuit Western Desert road, it is dedicated to our late mum, Laila, who used the moringa tree for decades in East Africa to treat victims of cancer, Hiv/Aids, Hepatitis ‘C’ and hundreds of other ailments. We also call our farm Jesus Moringa Farm. Our prophet, peace be upon him, who healed the people is welcome to stay at the farm as anyone else with peaceful intentions. With our work we commemorate him and try to continue this work with the plants Allah ta’ala gave us to use as remedies. This simple farm is a shrine to Jesus, son of Mariam, Allah said: “Who ever denies Jesus is no Muslim” We await his return with clear souls and minds.

    First and foremost this farm already had plenty of olive trees, accompanied by apple, guava and lemon trees, date palms and prickly pears.
    But our main focus is the moringa tree, also called the miracle tree. We grow the well known moringa oleifera (Indian) and the even more powerful stenopetala (African). We work on researching the moringa we grow and on spreading the knowledge about this wonderful tree in Egypt.

    Another aim we have is to cover the farm with trees to contribute to combat global warming. We believe that vast desert areas can be reforested. What we need is a source of water, the proper irrigation system to save water consumption, closed loops and a source of energy. This is another field we are working in: renewable energies, using the sun, the wind, biodiesel and biogas to cover the demand of energy we need on the farm.

    MRF believes in fair trade whose primary aim is to provide maximum benefit to African farmers and local communities. MRF is a unique farm, addressing a number of areas of pressing social trepidation through the promotion of natural, organic and subsistence based incomes, whilst providing local farmers and their communities a viable way to learn about permaculture, compost making, biogas, building, solar power, we are more than just a research centre,we are strong believers in sharing and implementing our knowledge to those who are less fortunate than others…

    Please come and visit us by making an appointment. Thank you

    September 30, 2013
    • JT Vaughn #

      Thanks very much for this interesting update on MRF–sounds like you guys are doing great work! When I’m in Egypt I’ll try to stop by!

      October 2, 2013
      • Eng.Max Hassouna #

        Welcome any time to Egypt,i operate in Uganda too and next year will be in Kenya!

        October 2, 2013

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