True or false: Chocolate is fermented

In honor of National Chocolate Day, we are going to talk about chocolate. Which for some, is a necessity of life.

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Before we see the delicious chocolate that we see, we see this:

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It’s true! Chocolate is fermented. How did this gooey substance turn into the delicious chocolate that we know today?

1) Chocolate grows on trees!

Well, cacao buds do. These trees grow in subtropical areas like Central America or Africa.

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It’s very important to know where your chocolate comes from. Is it fair trade or organically sourced? Theo Chocolates in the Fremont area near UW is one of the places that’s transparent about their source.

Check out Theo tours to learn more about how chocolate is sourced and made. A factory tour and samples are included.

2) It’s fermented

The cacao buds are harvested by hand to ensure the perfect ripeness. Then they are carefully broken open. The moist, fibrous, white pulp is then scooped out and arranged in a heap on mats and covered.

Cocoa farmer David Kebu Jnr holding fermenting cocoa beans.

This is the fermentation process where the pulp changes from bitter to the chocolate flavors we love today. Read more about how the fermentation process works here!

3) Cacao beans need to be dried

The high water content in the beans need to be dried for transportation and manufacturing purposes. This usually happens in the sun or in a shed. Once dried, they are off to manufacturing plants to be made into chocolate!

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4) Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?

In the chocolate factory, cocoa beans are first tested and cleaned to ensure quality. It also decreases the chance of mold or bugs in your chocolate.
Then the beans are roasted and cracked. These are now called nibs. (They work very well as an ice cream topper or in brownies)

Cocoa nibs.  They are featured in the 3400 Phinney Nib Brittle bar, which we were able to sample as well.  It has an almost rum-like quality, fruity and slightly boozy.

Now the nibs are ground to bring out the cocoa butter to create a chocolate liquor. This is also where sugar and milk type ingredients are added to create different degrees of chocolate from dark to milk.

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Before the chocolate can be molded, it has to be kneaded for hours or days to make it smooth.
Finally, it is tempered and formed into chocolate bars or other fancy forms.

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Is your mind blown?

Even after learning about the process, we still love chocolate. Just like how we love cheese or wine. Does this change how you view chocolate?
To see this first hand, why not form an ArcZap group to visit a factory near your area that gives tours to see how chocolate is made?
Chocolate is still a substance that boosts happiness and should be shared with friends and family. Share the love.

Happy National Chocolate Day!

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