The story of chocolate ... part one
From bean to bar, the cocoa bean has a fascinating journey!
As you enjoy your chocolate treat, have you ever wondered as to how the whole process began?
Chocolate is made from the cocoa bean, which comes from the theobroma cacao (the cocoa tree), which has its original in South America and can be found in Western Africa, the Caribbean and Malaysia.
The cocoa tree producers usually have two harvests a year: one larger crop and a secondary one.
Ripe cocoa pods are harvested by cutting the pod from the tree or knocking it to the ground with a stick. The pod is then sliced in half and the beans and surrounding pulp are scooped out onto large wooden crates, usually lined with banana leaves. The sweet pulp aids the fermentation process that develops the flavour of the cocoa and lasts around four to six days.
The beans are then spread out onto large trays and they dry in the sun, a process that takes around two weeks.
The dried beans are then graded and packed into hessian sacks and shopped to a chocolate manufacturer.
The process then moves onto the next stage, which we'll look at in part two very soon.