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Playing games with your taste buds



ROMA – LERATO Mohasi’s canned vegetables do not only have an inviting look, the taste will play games with your taste buds.

“That is because I make them using a method called pickling,” Mohasi said.

Pickling is where you make vegetables last long by fermenting and canning them. People go shopping for burgers and pizza, unaware that the extremely tasty veggies found on them are fermented vegetables. Mohasi is bringing such delicacies right to your doorstep.

Her story starts at a very young age when she lived with her grandmother. When she describes her grandmother, you can bet she was a workaholic.

“She used to can everything from figs, tomatoes and peaches to prunes, pears and pine apples,” she said.

As if that was not enough already, the grandmother would go on “to dry and preserve every one of those foods”. At any moment in time, you could either have their canned or dried food if you visited them.

One of the strongest bonds in the world is that which forms between grandparents and grandchildren. However, the bond between grandmothers and granddaughters is unbreakable.

It is no wonder then that what the grandmother did many years ago, was wired into her granddaughter’s brain to this very day. Mohasi is the one now producing canned vegetables, not just for her family but for everyone who would like to try them.

How did she arrive here?

When she finished high school, she crossed the border into South Africa. That is where she picked up a programme, Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurship and Business Studies.

She was at the Tertiary School in Business Administration University (Tsiba). After graduation, she couldn’t wait to get a secure employment, like everyone else. But it wasn’t going to happen.

She plunged into a jobless economy that is the Lesotho of today. She didn’t despair. Instead she started a business in which she was going to sell chopped vegetables.

“I would take vegetables, wash them, chop them up and sell them from door-to-door,” she said.

This happened in 2019 and the business was booming. She went so far as supplying people with chopped vegetables at events. But there was something she didn’t know.

Covid-19 was brewing! As if from nowhere it hit and Lesotho went into lockdown. What a blow it was!

“I could no longer move from house-to-house, selling.”

She said her business then went into a free-fall. Maybe Churchill’s words came to mind at that exact moment – “the pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty”. She went into opportunity-search gears. She happened to have a partner whose mother is also into canning fruits and vegetables.

“He encouraged me not to give up but to move from just chopping to canning.”

The beauty of canning is that canned foods last longer, sometimes even years. So when there are no customers, the products can simply be stored and sold at the right seasons.

“Well, I gave it a shot,” she said.

“But that meant going on a whole new way of doing things.”

Now she preserves chillies, tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, beetroot and so on.

“I use the process called pickling,” she revealed.

In this process, the vegetables are fermented to release acids such as lactic acids or vinegar. Green olives, which are often used in pizza, are some of the most widely pickled fruits. But why did she choose pickling specifically?

Fermentation is one of the most amazing processes humans have at their disposal. First, pickled foods last longer and are sold at a cheaper price. Simply put, you don’t need a fridge.

Second, have you ever tasted a well prepared burger or pizza and marvelled at the taste of vegetables used there? Vegetables in pizza and burgers are often pickled. Pickling adds rare tastes and textures.

Most importantly, when you ferment, you release nutrients. Thus pickled food comes packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. The process of fermentation also creates healthy bacteria which will later fight and kill bad bacteria and fungus in your stomach.

It’s no doubt then, that eating pickled food gives you more than you asked for. However, was the market willing?

“At first, it wasn’t as good,” she answered.

“People were coming to me mainly to experiment. Many were driven by curiosity.”

But overtime, she began getting regular customers as more and more people were becoming aware of the health benefits and the killing taste.

Own Correspondent

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