Cocoa and Chocolate

Cocoa and Chocolate -

The word "cocoa," now universally used in English-speaking countries, is a corruption of "Cacao" - the full botanical title being "Theobroma Cacao," which, translated, is "cocoa, the food of the Gods," clearly demonstrating the early recognition of its high food value!

cocoa beans were used as food in Mexico, the West Indies and elsewhere long before the discovery of this hemisphere by Columbus. The earliest references to it are found in the writings of the explorers who followed him - tradition has it that the first to tell of the new beverage was Bernal Diaz, one of the Spanish officers with Cortez, who observed Montezuma quaffing a concoction of it from a golden cup. Its use was soon an established custom in Spain and Portugal, which are to this day large per capita consumers of cocoa and Chocolate, and as early as 1550 Chocolate factories of considerable size existed in the south of Europe - in Lisbon, Genoa, Turin, Bayonne and Marseilles.

The cocoa-tree grows to an average height of twenty to thirty feet and is of spreading habits and healthy growth. Bucare-trees, tropical trees of rapid growth, are set between the rows to shade the young trees until they have attained maturity. A minimum temperature of 80° Fahr. and plenty of moisture, both of soil and atmosphere, are required to bring out their full bearing possibilities.

The trees begin to bear fruit at three or four years, continuing to the age of about forty years. Some fruit is ripening all the year round, but two main crops are gathered, generally in June and December (or January) - the latter being the more important.

The cocoa beans or seeds are found in pods of varying shapes from seven to twelve inches long and rather more than a third as much in diameter at the thickest part. The ripe pod is dark yellow or yellowish-brown in color with a thick, tough rind enclosing a mass of cellular tissue. The beans, about the size of almonds, but more suggestive of vegetable beans in shape, are buried in the tissue, each in a thin shell varying from the papery texture of the Ceylon and Java beans to the hard skin of the other varieties. When fresh they are bitter in taste and of a light color, turning reddish-brown or reddish-grey during the processes of sweating and curing.

A curious fact is that the pods grow most freely on the older branches and the trunks of the trees, often on those entirely bare of foliage, instead of among the fullest foliage as with the majority of other fruits.

In gathering, only fully ripened pods are taken. They are first left on the ground for twenty-four hours to dry and are then cut open and the beans taken out (the beans still remaining in their shells).

The next operation is the "sweating" or curing. The acid juice which marks the beans is first drained off and they are then placed in a sweating box, in which they are enclosed and allowed to ferment for some time, great care being taken to keep the temperature from rising too high. The fermenting process is in some cases effected by throwing the seeds into holes or trenches in the ground and covering them with earth or clay. The seeds in this process, which is called "claying," are occasionally stirred to keep the fermentation from proceeding too violently.

The final plantation process is the drying of the mass in the sun - the beans of good quality which have been carefully fermented there assuming the warm, reddish tint so highly prized. They are then ready to be put into bags and sent out into the markets of the world. In the cocoa and Chocolate manufacturing establishments the beans are cleaned, sorted and roasted - the roasting being most important, for upon it depends to a great extent the flavor of the finished cocoa. Too little, leaves the beans crude and unflavored, and too much will make them bitter.

The roasting machine keeps the seeds in constant motion over the fire or hot pipes for about twenty-five to forty-five minutes. They go next to the "cracker," which cracks the shells and breaks the beans into small fragments. After the "cracker" comes the "fanner," which separates the shells from the bean fragments and sorts them later by screens into six different sizes, the last being as fine as dust. The cracked beans are known as "cocoa-nibs."

The next step is the "blending." cocoa beans of different plantations and countries vary in flavor and strength very much as do tea-leaves or coffee beans, and it is the aim of each manufacturer to make a blend which will produce the best possible flavor, aroma, etc.

The cracked beans designated for each blend go first to the "mixer" and then to the "grinders," which reduce them to a thick, oily liquid.

If "plain" or "bitter" Chocolate is being made, the manufacture is then complete. The liquid is cooled to the proper temperature and run into molds where it remains until cooled to hard cakes by refrigerating machines.

For "sweet Chocolate," cocoa-butter and sugar are added to the liquid which comes from the grinders, and mixed in the "melanger" or mixer, and the resulting paste is sent through the "rollers," coming from them smooth, even and with all the air pressed out.

For "vanilla Chocolate," some high-grade vanilla beans, and in some cases a small quantity of spices such as cinnamon and cloves, are added at the same time as the sugar.

In "Spanish Chocolate" and similar varieties, almonds are often used instead of vanilla and with the addition of cinnamon and cloves.

The paste which comes from the rollers is next weighed off and placed in molds - being thoroughly shaken down in them by automatic agitators.

For "cocoa" or "breakfast cocoa," the liquid which comes from the grinders is deprived of some of its oil or butter, leaving a comparatively hard dry substance which is ground to powder and bolted through very fine silk screens. Only the fine powder passes through, the remainder being held to grind over again. This is put up for the market in various sizes of cartons and cans.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of absolutely pure cocoa when ready for the market is a rich, reddish color, commonly known among artists as "cacao-red." When the powder is so dark as to appear almost black it is generally a sign that it has been artificially colored, or that it was made from imperfectly cleansed beans of a poor quality.

cocoa contains a percentage of theobromine which corresponds to the stimulating properties of tea and coffee, but its high merit lies principally in its very large proportion of nutritive substances - roasted cocoa beans contain an average of 49% pure oil, 18% protein matter, 10% starch, and 7% other carbohydrates, etc. - contained in a form which is very palatable, however it is taken into the system - whether as a beverage or confection, in puddings, cakes, etc. Its value is highly regarded by all civilized governments - in Europe and the United States, Chocolate is a part of the army ration as a food and of the navy ration as a beverage.

The United States is to-day the largest cocoa consuming country in the world. During 1910, more than 115,000,000 pounds of cocoa beans were imported into the United States - nearly one-third of the entire world production. The chief sources of the crude beans received here are the British West Indies (chiefly Trinidad), Brazil, Portuguese Colonies, Ecuador, San Domingo, Venezuela, East Indies, Dutch Guiana, Cuba, etc.

Some prepared cocoa and Chocolate is imported from Germany, Holland, France, Spain, Switzerland and other European countries, but, on the other hand, the United States is beginning to figure as an exporter of the prepared article.

Dutch cocoas are distinguished by their treatment with sodium carbonate or ammonium hydrate. The reason given is that the process makes a greater percentage of protein available as a nutrient by destroying the cellular tissues. The objection to the process is that it increases the proportion of mineral salts. The apparent result is to make the cocoa darker in color and more frothy when prepared for drinking.

By U. S. standards, Plain or Bitter Chocolate is the mass obtained by grinding cocoa nibs without the removal of any constituent except the germ, and contains not more than 3% ash, insoluble in water, 3.5% crude fibre and 9% starch, and not less than 45% cocoa fat. Sweet cocoa should not contain more than 60% sugar. No Chocolate or cocoa preparation should contain in the sugar-and-fat-free residue a higher percentage of ash, fibre or starch than found in the fat-free residue of Plain Chocolate.

The principal commercial classifications as they interest the consumer are:

Arround Cocoa and Chocolate in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

Cocoa Butter

The Grocer's Encyclopedia
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