Chocolate has got to be one of mankind’s major weaknesses,
that and coffee which goes well with chocolate. Historically, wars have been
fought over the delicious beans, because beans they are. The process of making
chocolate begins with processing cacao beans. Cacao bean preparation takes some
serious effort before it turns into a silky, sweet chocolate bar.
If you’re interested in the making of chocolate, read on to
learn how to process cacao pods.
About Cacao Bean Preparation
Proper processing of cacao
beans is as important as that of coffee
beans, and just as time consuming and complex. The first order of business
is harvesting. Cocoa trees bear fruit when they are 3-4 years old. The pods
grow straight out from the trunk of the tree and can yield 20-30 pods per year.
The color of the pods depends on the variety of cacao tree,
but regardless of the color, inside each pod reside 20-40 cocoa beans covered
in a sweet white pulp. Once the beans have been harvested, the real work of turning
them into chocolate begins.
What to Do with Cacao Pods
Once the pods have been harvested, they are split open. The
beans inside are then scooped from the pod and left to ferment with the pulp
for about a week. The resulting fermentation will keep the beans from
germinating later and it builds a more robust flavor.
After this week of fermentation, the beans are dried out in
the sun on mats or using specialty drying equipment. They are then packed into
sacks and transported to where the actual processing of cacao will be done.
How to Process Cacao Pods
Once the dried beans have arrived at the processing plant,
they are sorted and cleaned. The dry beans are cracked and streams of air
separate the shell from the nib, the small bits used in the process of making
Then, just like coffee beans, the magic begins with the
process of roasting. Roasting cocoa beans develops the flavor of the chocolate
and kills bacteria. The nibs are roasted in special ovens until they are a
rich, dark brown in color with a deep aroma and flavor.
Once the nibs have been roasted, they are ground until they
liquefy into a thick chocolate ‘mass’ that contains 53-58% cocoa butter. The
cocoa mass is pressed to extract the cocoa butter and is then cooled, wherein it
solidifies. This is now the basis for further chocolate products.
While I have abbreviated the practice of processing cacao,
cacao bean preparation is actually quite complicated. So, too, is the growing
of the trees and harvesting. Knowing just how much time goes into to making this
favorite sweet should help one appreciate the treats even more.
“How To Process Cacao Pods – Cacao Bean Preparation Guide” was first posted here