Illu Import Export

Did you know Cheka is a traditional low alcoholic fermented beverage commonly consumed in the southwestern parts of Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is one of the countries where a wide variety of traditional fermented beverages are prepared and consumed. Cheka is one of the indigenously fermented alcoholic beverages that is extensively consumed and valued by consumers in urban and rural areas of the Konso Zone in southwestern Ethiopia. This study is aimed to determine the proximal composition, mineral, and alcohol contents of cheka. pH and titratable acidity of cheka samples were found to be in the range of (4.61-4.11)% and (1.25-1.78)% respectively. Proximal compositions including moisture, protein, ash, carbohydrate, fibre and gross energy of cheka samples were found to be in the range of (22.76-30.32)%, (5.97-4.95)%, (1.51-3.31)%, (59.08-64.41)%, (1.2 to 1.9)% and (270.79 to 287.87) Kcal respectively. Alcoholic content ranged from (4.05 to 6.75)% (v/v). Mineral contents of cheka samples such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc range from (10.65-11.82) mg/l, (11.05-7.79) mg/l, (7.64-10.73) mg/l and (2.57-5.33) mg/l respectively. Cheka samples that were collected from the local house are relatively good in its nutritional content than samples collected from commercial sources. The result of this study shows that Cheka has less nutrient content and it does not match with recommended nutrient dietary reference intakes needed for a daily routine.

Fermentation has been a means of enhancing the storage quality of food for more than 6000 years. Beer brewed by the Babylonians and exported to Egypt around 3000 B.C. was most likely the product of both alcoholic and lactic fermentations [1]. It is a widely practiced ancient technology and fermented food items are essential parts of diets globally. Traditional fermented beverages are those that are indigenous to a particular area and have been developed by locals using age-old techniques and regionally available raw materials [2]. Fermentation methods for producing alcohol are inexpensive and adaptable at the household level among traditional communities [3]. Fermented food and beverages enhance the sensory properties and nutritional value of food items improve digestibility, reduce the toxicity and anti-nutritional factors, and improve the shelf life [4].

Nearly in all countries, some type of alcoholic beverages native to different regions are prepared and consumed. In Africa, every country and community has its recipe for the fermentation of indigenous fruits and cereals. A variety of cereals are used either alone or in combination to produce several fermented beverage and food items [5]. Fermented alcoholic beverages are consumed on different occasions such as marriage, naming, rain-making ceremonies, festivals and social gatherings, burial ceremonies and dispute settings [6].

Ethiopia is one of the countries where a wide variety of cerealbased traditional fermented beverages are prepared and consumed. Various traditional fermented beverages are produced on a fairly small scale and usually for local consumption. Some of the known beverages are tella, borde, shamita, cheka, korefe, keribo, bukire, merissa, etc. Cheka is a cereal and vegetable-based fermented beverage, which is widely consumed in the southwestern parts of Ethiopia, mainly in Dirashe and Konso. People of all ages including infants, pregnant and lactating women drink cheka. It provides an affordable source of drink and makes a substantial contribution to the nutritional security of the low-income group of consumers and adult men on average drink up to 8 litres per day. The preparation of many indigenous or traditionally fermented beverages is still a household art. Processing methods as well as the raw materials utilized and their proportions seem to vary among households, villages, and localities. Despite the importance of cheka in the Konso community information on the production technology, nutritional values, alcohol content and biochemical properties of cheka is limited as is the case of many other traditional fermented beverages in Ethiopia. Present study focuses on the proximal composition, mineral, and alcohol content of cheka in the Konso Zone, southwest Ethiopia.

This study was carried out at the Konso zone which is located 595 km away from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, and 365 km away from the capital city of SNNPR, Hawassa, and 90 km away from Arba Minch town. The zone comprises two urban and 39 rural Kebeles. The total population of the zone is 258,832 with a total number of households 51,334 [11]. The lively hood of the Konso community includes mixed farming; crop cultivation complemented by small livestock holdings. The zone is comprised of 49 Kebeles of which two are semi-urban. The zone has one district hospital and 9 health centres. The study was conducted from September 2019 to January 2020.

Sample collection

Five cheka samples were collected using one-liter plastic container from local houses and local markets for analysis of their chemical properties, nutritional, and alcohol contents. After on spot measurement of some physical parameters, all samples were transported and brought to the Arba Minch University, Chemistry laboratory for analysis in an icebox jar to avoid unusual change in sample quality and stored in a refrigerator (4°C) until the analysis.

Determination of nutrient and alcoholic contents

pH and titratable acidity determination: pH and titratable acidity were determined according to the method of AOAC 2000 [12]. pH of the cheka samples were measured using a digital pH meter after calibration at 25°C, using buffers of pH 4 and 7 by dipping the glass electrode of pH meter into 100 ml of the sample, after dilution with distilled water at a 1:1 (w/v) ratio into a thick slurry of cheka [13,14]. Acidity was measured by the titration of 5 mL cheka sample with 0.1N NaOH using 0.1 ml, 0.5% phenolphthalein as an indicator and then calculated as percentage lactic acid.

Cheka samples which are collected from local households are relatively good in its nutritional content than samples collected from commercial sources. Commercially brewed alcohol like cheka does not contain many ingredients for production as it is fermented for more than a week, resulting only in the enhancement of alcoholic percentage and reduction in nutrient content. Most of locals in Konso are habituated to the consumption of cheka as their main daily drink. However, the result of this study shows that cheka has less nutrient content and does not fit to be recommended as nutrient drink matching the dietary reference intake need for a day. It needs to take other food items besides cheka to gain nutrient required for daily activities.