| || ||The contents of the cocoa pods are scooped out and set in heaps where microbes occurring naturally on the plant cause a fermentation which lasts for 7 days. The beans are turned daily to let in air. The fermentation process is complex and involves a succession of microbes, starting with yeasts, continuing with bacteria and finishing with moulds. Over 30 different bacteria have been found in fermentations. The alcohols, acids and heat formed during fermentation induce complex biochemical reactions inside the beans. |
Unfermented beans do not produce chocolate flavour and scientists have been unable to replicate the complicated biochemistry that takes place on the farm in the laboratory. Chocolate is a food which can only be made with the help of microbes.
After the beans have fermented they are dried and taken to the processing plant for roasting and kibbling (broken into pieces). The broken shells are removed and the small pieces left called nibs are reduced to a thick liquid which contains about 55% cocoa butter. About half the cocoa butter is removed by pressing and used to make chocolate bars. The rest is ground up to make cocoa powder.