Friday, September 18, 2009

Where does Chocolate Come from

The 18th century Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus wisely named the tropical tree from which we get chocolate Theobroma which is a compound of green words meaning "Food of the Gods". The pods take five to six months to develop. Cacao trees can be harvested twice a year. They are placed on banana leaves in large wooden boxes. They are left to ferment for several days. The beans are roasted at 250 to 350° degrees for thirty minutes to two hours depending on the type of bean. After roasting the beans are winnowed. This is the process that removes the outer shell. The shells are sold as animal feed. The inner nib is then crushed then heated to melt the cocoa butter and ground to a thick paste. This paste is called chocolate liquor, but contains no alcohol. If the nibs are to become Dutch-processed cocoa they are treated with an alkali. If left untreated with alkali the chocolate liquor becomes cocoa powder. To make cocoa power a large press extracts all but 10 to 25 percent the cocoa butter from the chocolate liquor. The remaining cake is then ground and sifted through fine nylon, silk, or wire mesh. Low fat cocoa contains between 10 to 13 percent fat where high-fat contains 15 to 25 percent. Low-fat cocoa is usually used for cocoa drinks. The high-fat cocoa is used to flavor desserts.

You can find Cocoa tree seeds and seedlings on Ebay. They are tropical and will require hot weather and a humid climate similar to a rain forest. They grow find outdoors here in Arkansas until the weather turns cold and then they must be brought into a greenhouse.


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