More About Cocoa
Most cocoa trees bear fruit in the fifth year but some trees may yield pods in the third and fourth year. A cocoa tree reaches peak production in about 10 years and will continue producing pods for the next 12 to 13 years. Some 30 to 40 years old cocoa trees still produce pods.
Cocoa fruits grow as green or maroon pods on the trunk. These pods ripen to golden with multi-colored flecks. A typical cocoa pod has 20 to 50 cream-colored cocoa beans.
Fermentation of the cocoa beans, which removes the raw and bitter taste of cocoa, takes about one week. During fermentation, the sugars contained in the cocoa beans are converted into acid.
Fermentation process generates temperatures of about 52o C, activating existing enzymes in the beans to form compounds that produce the chocolate flavor. When the beans are brown in colour they are dried for several days. During drying the beans lose almost all their moisture and almost more than half their weight.
For quality purposes, the cocoa beans are examined and cleansed of foreign matter (stones, sand and dirt) and broken or germinated beans.
Transforming cocoa beans into chocolate is a sophisticated process whereby variations in the parameters of temperature, ingredients and time are used to produce unique variety of recipes.