Everyone who lived or has visited Negros would have been familiar with what we call muscovado sugar. Speaking of muscovado sugar, one would have Alter Trade as the top of the mind recall brand. Right enough, Alter Trade is one of the producers featured in the ongoing Negros Trade Fair. This company produces their high export-quality muscovado at their factory at Ma-ao, Bago City, Negros Occidental. Aside from muscovado sugar, the company produces a variety of organic products they also slate for export. They have squash, sweet potatoes, purple yam, bitter gourd and banana as some of their organic fruit exports. What took my interest is not much on the familiar muscovado but their variety of banana chips. Earlier last week, I was able to go to the OTOP National Trade Fair and I was able to see banana chips famously produced in the island of Mindoro, so I asked them what made their banana chips special.
I noticed that the banana chips came in three flavors: original, sweetened and what do you know… hot chili! These banana chips have the characteristic crunch of potato chips albeit healthier and less oily. The hot chili flavored banana chips did not taste weird at all! Unlike potato chips that are laden with monosodium glutamate and bad cholesterol, banana is healthy and is a good alternative snack. The Alter Trade folks lectured me a bit on banana growing as I asked them some questions. The bananas do look like the cavendish variety but they said that it is actually a native variety which is commonly called balangon. In fact, this variety of banana is the very ancestor of the cavendish variety that we know of at present. This variety of banana grows well in the cold mountainous areas which Negros has plenty of. Balangon turns ripe after 12 weeks but these export-quality bananas are harvested 7 weeks after budding or the time when the banana produces what we normally call as puso ng saging. The primary reason is that it would have a longer shelf life and a characteristic shiny skin. About 70 to 80% of their bananas are being sent for export while the remaining 30% are either sold in the local market or being turned into banana chips and ironically, they may be rejected for export but in chip form, they are not. How ingenious isn’t it? Currently, the shelf life of the banana chips are just half a year but they are currently studying natural organic techniques to lengthen it up to a year. What are you waiting for? Savour not just the muscovado of Alter Trade, try their chips as well. The Negros Trade Fair runs until this Sunday so go to Rockwell Tent and grab your own bags.