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The Cocoa Dance

 

Cacao, how I love you. If you have been reading me for some time, you know that there have been many an affectionate song, sung about the benefits of raw cacao beans. Remember these goodies:

Obviously, a visit to a running cocoa plantation was going to be on the itinerary of the Nourish You Soul retreat. Off to Fond Doux plantation, where they grow, harvest and ferment the cocoa beans and then ship'em off to Hershey's where these  super powered healthy beans get turned into junk food.

The morning before we ventured to the plantation, there was some debate around the table regarding whether what we believe to be raw cacao, was actually raw. See, we had plucked a cocoa pod off a tree, cleaned the pulp off from around the beans, let them dry out in the sun and what was left was a dry, chalky, bitter, non-chocolate tasting bean.

Raw Cacao Beans

Of course I went straight to the source and posted the question to David Wolfe who quickly responded, to try them and then we would know the truth. I still wasn't sure what he meant by that but off to the plantation we went.  What we learned is that it is the fermentation of the bean that gives it the cacao/chocolate taste- and this, indeed, leaves it 100% raw and totes healthful and chocolatey delicious.

Pre-fermentation the cocoa beans are bitter and astringent, with no hint of chocolate at all. The the biochemical processes that occur during fermentation develop the precursors of the chocolate flavour. If you want to get technical, the initial stage of the fermentation process is anaerobic; yeast and bacteria utilize the sugars of the mucilage, producing acetic acid and generating heat, which kills the seed. The second, aerobic, stage, which begins after the beans are turned, oxidizes the acetic acid. You might now be asking, but how does a bean ferment? Good question! It is the fruity pulp that hangs on to the bean that does the fermenting, and this is what helps produce the flavours we know and love.

The highlight for us were....

1. Being surrounded by chocolate trees.

Chocolate Trees2. Getting to taste the sweet and tangy cacao pulp, known locally as jungle M & Ms because you suck the white goodness off the seed.

Cacao Pulp St. Lucia3. Feasting our eyes on oodles of trays that were overflowing with cacao.

Meghan Telpner Cacao Plantation

Wait just a second... where does the dancing coming in? Turns out, the cocoa dance is part of the final stage in traditional fermentation process and we got our very own demo of the Watching the cocoa dance! This is the final stage and this is where the magic is worked, in my opinion. This final stage helps to preserve the bean

Raw Cocoa Dance

So there you have it! A little bit of the ins on the magic that happens behind the beans.

11 Responses to “The Cocoa Dance”

  1. I love to add cacao to my green smoothies and my oatmeal. It gives me a 'feel good' boost!
  2. Alex said…
    Cool! I didn't realize that chocolate was a fermented food! When all my friends are 'predrinking' alcohol before we go to a bar/club, I am sipping my green tea and munching on cocoa beans...that'll get you high, I tell ya! And all nice and antioxidated!
  3. Sham said…
    I do a cacao dance everyday:)! Thanks for the info and the pics of the trays of cacao...beautiful :)
  4. Lauren said…
    I love cacao! Who doesn't love chocolate? :) Raw is best!
  5. Jennifer R. said…
    love this post -- probably even more so since i was THERE in St. Lucia for it all :) Thanks again for an awesome trip!! do you know... if people don't do well eating chocolate, could they eat raw cacao with no problems??
  6. Andrea T. said…
    That is very cool information. Once again I've learned something from you.
  7. kitegypsy said…
    As you know, i am also a chocoholic and returned from my own Misadventures in the Caribbean with a selection of chocolate 'turds' from different islands... they contain slightly different spice mixes in them, and smell divine... BUT did you find out how they make these wonderful things? i have some from dominica, st. lucia, st vincent and granada sitting in my cupboard right now, and my backpack is redolent with residual chocolate fumes.
  8. You got to visit a cocoa plantation?!? Oh my gosh, that would be like dying and going to heaven. You do the coolest things Meghan!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Heather! Join me next January. Will be down there for about a month (give or give more!)
  9. the cocoa dance - http://t.co/c05eKxx0 #superfood #holistic

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