Do you enjoy treats that are made of chocolate, but have wondered where it comes from? You may not know that it is actually derived from a natural product. This delicacy is made from the beans that come from the cacao plant or cocoa plant. The plants will grow in tropical countries that are found around the equator like Central and South America. Cocoa plants will not be found outside of this region.
The appearance of a cocoa pod is a far cry from the finished chocolate consumers will enjoy. You might be interested to know about the steps that are needed to make the chocolate we all know and love.
The process of making chocolate from cocoa beans is a long and incredible journey. Cocoa beans grow in pods on a tree that range in color from green and purple to red. They will turn a yellowish color after they ripen. The pods are easy to harvest as they are simply picked from the tree. Harvesting cocoa pods is done by hand as no machinery is used. This is so there will be no damage to the tree so it can continue to grow more fruit. A curved knife is used to harvest the pods from cocoa trees.
Each cocoa tree will yield between 20 and 30 pounds of fruit every year. The harvest from one tree each year will be enough to produce one pound of chocolate. Farmers will need to remove all the seed pods and pulp from each pod as this is what is used to make chocolate. Each pod will contain about 30 to 50 seeds for farmers to extract.
Once the seed pods and pulp is removed it needs to ferment. This is similar to aging as it will bring out desired flavors, just like a fine wine. Bitterness of the cocoa is tamed and a richness is added that is not found in unfermented beans. The fermentation process will take between two and eight days. This will ensure the beans do not germinate. If germination occurs, the beans will not be usable.
Once fermentation is complete, the beans need to be dried. This will be done outside in the sun. There is artificial drying available, if the climate is not cooperative. The drying process helps lower moisture from 60 percent to under 10 percent. This is so the beans do not rot. The drying process will take about five days to complete. After the drying is complete, the beans will have a reddish-brown color and are now ready to be packed and shipped to chocolate manufacturers around the globe.
Manufacturers cannot simply grind up cocoa beans to make chocolate. The beans will need to be roasted to bring out the flavor that is expected of chocolate. This is when the hulls of the beans are discarded and the meat of the bean is processed. Temperature is an important factor, as is time, depending on the types of flavors that are to be extracted. The result is cocoa nibs that can be sold as is or processed further to make other types of products. These nibs have all sorts of culinary and baking uses.
Further processing of cocoa beans is needed to create a cocoa liquor. This is just a name, as no alcohol is being made. Cocoa liquor is made by sending the cocoa nibs through a press. The liquor that is created is the raw ingredient for all sorts of chocolate confections. All that is needed is a bit of sugar and a variety of other ingredients to make various confections and candy products.
Further process of the cocoa liquor can be done to create cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Cocoa butter is used to create beverages that are chocolate flavored. Grinding up the cocoa solids will produce a cocoa powder. Once interesting thing about cocoa butter is it is often added back into the chocolate, as this will give it a smoother texture. Cocoa butter is also used to make white chocolate.
Chocolate is not inexpensive to make and as a result, some manufacturers will use vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter in their products. The result is an inferior chocolate most consumers will find at a local grocery store. True chocolate has a richer flavor, but will be more expensive.Coffee combined with chocolate is the best combination.You can buy commercial coffee makers in Saudi Arabia