Everything started somewhere, and at some point in time, and this includes the art of making chocolate. Who knows? This might be one of your favourite hobbies or pastimes. Or you could simply be addicted to chocolate, like many people are. This article will fill you in on how it all started.
The cocoa tree has become known as the “ Theobroma Cacao,” which when translated means “the food from the Gods.” Its origin goes back to the rainforests of the Americas, specifically Central America, however, historians still cannot agree on specific facts about the cocoa tree.
There is a debate going on because word is that the Mayans were the first ones to grow a cacao tree, way back in 300 AD. The Aztecs too got involved in cultivating cacao trees in 1100 AD. The flavor we now know as “chocolate” was at one time called “Xocolat.” Originally it was a tasty beverage made of anise seed, chilies, cornmeal, vanilla and additional spices. In the beginning only those of royal lineage were allowed to partake in this delicious drink. Xocolat was served in golden cups, which were used just once.
Chocolate Under Threat
The cacao tree is delicate and cannot be grown everywhere. It does grow well in the shaded canopy of our threatened rainforests. This is why chocolate lovers must be concerned about the environment and the threats facing our delicate rainforests. The rainforest is where cocoa trees grow and thrive. If chocolate is to survive, we must save the rainforests.
Most people are not aware that the cacao tree can have about 10,000 blossoms, but only 10 to 50 of them will actually mature into fruit or a pod. The reason for this is that this tree has the intelligence to regulate itself and will only mature the number of blossoms it can physically grow.
The cacao tree is self-regulating and this is so that it can sustain itself and be healthy. It knows how much it can handle. It understands how many blossoms are enough and how many would be too much. The cacao tree must do this to maintain its internal systems so the branches do not break or fall apart.
Cocoa beans are derived from the fruit of the tree or the pod. Those harvesting the beans wait until the pods ripen. They will pick the pods off the tree by hand; crack them open until they can see the white pulpy material that surrounds the seeds. The pulp is discarded, while the seeds are saved because those are the cocoa beans, which is where chocolate comes from.
At this point the seeds are bitter tasting and must endure a process of fermentation, which can last from 3 to 7 days. During this time the seeds will go through chemical and physical changes.
Knowing all of this I doubt that you will ever regard your favorite chocolate candies in the same way. They have gone through a lot just to become your favorite treat, and chocolate is a favorite among so many children and all who are young at heart.