The cacao bean (cocoa bean) is a commodity that comes from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao – the food of the gods), an evergreen tree that begins to bear when it is 4-5 years old. The tree can grow up to approximately 50 feet in the wild although cocoa trees on plantations are kept between 15-25 feet tall because they are typically grown under a canopy of taller trees, which makes harvesting easier in addition to protecting them from strong winds. Of the thousands of tiny pink or white flowers that grow on a single tree less than 10% grow into mature fruit. The cacao pods grow directly from the trunk and major branches of the trees. A cacao pod will begin to ripen 5-6 months after it flowers. The cacao fruit is shaped similar to and elongated football and can grow up to 11 inches long and 5 inches wide. The average weight of a ripe cocoa pod is slightly less than 1 pound can vary in color from yellow, green, to dark brown. Once a cocoa tree has reach maturity it is capable of producing 20 pods in a span of a year, each pod containing 20-60 beans that is surrounded by a white pulp called mucilage. Each tree is capable of producing enough beans to make close to 2.5 pounds of chocolate per year.
Growing season is continuous – they ripen throughout the year
talk about months and season*
COCOA TREE VARIETIES
There are three main groups of cocoa beans:
The Criollo produces the highest quality and is described as having exceptional flavor and aroma, however, it happens to be the most expensive.
Forastero is the most commonly grown...
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...ical pressing. The liquor is pumped into large hydraulic presses that apply about 6000 pounds per square inch to the liquor. The intense pressure forces out the cocoa butter, which is removed through filters. Cocoa butter does not contain aroma or flavor. The cocoa butter is used to make chocolate. Cocoa butter is used in cosmetic products such as makeup and soaps.
The pressed cake that remains after three quarters of the cocoa butter is removed can be cooled pulverized and sifted into natural cocoa powder. Coca powder is used to make chocolate milk, chocolate syrup, ice cream, cakes, etc beverages and baking Cocoa powder is used in a variety of chocolate flavored foods and drinks.
There are two types of cocoa powder: natural and Dutch pressed. The Dutch pressed is a milder flavor achieved by changing the pH and making the cocoa powder less acidic and more basic.
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