Every time you dip your hand into a box of Russell Stover's or delight in any piece of fine chocolate, you probably didn't know that this superb candy making process begins with a rather small item. It is just a simple bean that is responsible for bringing the dark chocolate truffles to your Valentine's Day candy box, as well as the milk chocolate bars you stash in your desk at work. There is a wonderful process that takes place to turn a small bean into some of the most delicious concoctions in the world. First, let's take the cacao bean or seed, which originates from a fruit bearing tree that travels a mighty journey before it can be called a piece of chocolate.
To create the fine chocolates we love so dearly, there is a specific chain of events that must properly link together. The result is the transformation of the cacao bean into something quite remarkable. The harvest of a cacao is completed by hand. Growers also cut the fruit by hand, often using machetes to open up the product. This is considered the first step in developing the elements of the fruit into the cacao seeds used for fine chocolates.
After the fruits have all been collected and opened up, the beans are then extracted. At this time, the pulp of the cacao is also removed. After this is completed, workers move onto the fermentation process. This is a rather long process, which takes about 5 to 6 days to complete. Over time, the natural sugars from the fruit begin to create alcohol. It is the pulp of the cacao that is transformed into the liquid.
Eventually, it is all drained away. It is also during this time that the deep brown color of chocolate begins to emerge. It is the fermentation process that is responsible for this change.
After the fermentation process has passed, it is now time to dry the beans and continue the process to create delicious chocolate. Since cacaos tend to grow in a heated climate, the drying process is achieved by placing the product in the sun. If you thought the fermentation process was long, get a load of the drying process, which takes two weeks to complete. A less desirable result is achieved through the use of hot air in the drying process.
This often occurs in places that handle a high volume of product. In the end, you will have created a decreased quality in chocolate by using hot air methods. When the drying process is complete, the chocolate will be further processed through roasting, which is quite similar to the creation of coffee. Fine chocolates are created when the roasting process reaching temperatures of about 210 degrees. It could take as much as a couple of minutes, while other selections more than an hour.
This process is responsible for creating the rich scent and chocolate flavor. This is considered an important part of the chocolate making process. If the temperature is too low, you will produce a chocolate bean that has a fruity taste to it. For bitter beans, a longer roast is used. The next step is to filter the chocolate, also referred to as winnowing.
The cacaos are then shelled and made ready for the grinder. This is also another important part of the process. And so the process continues, eventually creating tasty.
It is an act that takes patience and time to cultivate the fine treats that have become a staple in cultures around the world.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about this as well as gourmet French chocolates at http://www.gourmetfrenchchocolates.com