Many different sorts of products can be derived from cocoa. The husks of cocoa pods and the pulp, or sweatings, surrounding the beans and the cocoa bean shells can be used. Some examples of these uses are:
Animal feed from cocoa husk – As pelletised dry 100% cocoa pod husk, it can be used as an animal feed. The animal feed is produced by first slicing the fresh cocoa husks into small flakes and then partially drying the flakes, followed by mincing and pelleting and drying of the pellets.
Production of soft drinks and alcohol – In the preparation of soft drinks, fresh cocoa pulp juice (sweatings) is collected, sterilized and bottled.
For the production of alcoholic drinks, such as brandy, the fresh juice is boiled, cooled and fermented with yeast. After 4 days of fermentation the alcohol is distilled.
Potash from cocoa pod husk – Cocoa pod husk ash is used mainly for soft soap manufacture. It may also be used as fertilizer for cocoa, vegetables, and food crops.
To prepare the ash, fresh husks are spread out in the open to dry for one to two weeks. The dried husks are then incinerated in an ashing kiln.
Jam and marmalade – Pectin for jam and marmalade is extracted from the sweatings by precipitation with alcohol, followed by distillation and recycling of the alcohol in further extractions.
Mulch – Cocoa bean shells can be used an organic mulch and soil conditioner for the garden.
Once the beans have been fermented and dried, they can be processed to produce a variety of products. These products include:
Cocoa butter – Cocoa butter is used in the manufacture of chocolate. It is also widely used in cosmetic products such as moisturizing creams and soaps.
Cocoa powder – Cocoa powder can be used as an ingredient in almost any foodstuff. For example, it is used in chocolate flavoured drinks, chocolate flavoured desserts such as ice cream and mousse, chocolate spreads and sauces, and cakes and biscuits.
Cocoa liquor – Cocoa liquor is used, with other ingredients, to produce chocolate. Chocolate is used as a product on its own or combined with other ingredients to form confectionery products.
Information on the Flavour Assessment/Tasting and Of Chocolate
Assessment of flavour can take place at the cocoa liquor stage or when made up fully into chocolate. Liquor tasting allows the tasting to be done without the addition of cocoa butter, sugar and milk products which dilute the taste impression.
Tasting can be carried out by a panel of tasters. Samples are evaluated for strength of cocoa or chocolate flavour, residual acidity, bitterness and astringency, and off-flavours.
Off-flavours:causes and effects
Can arise from the presence of mould in the beans which gives a mouldy/musty flavour to the chocolate.
Can arise from contamination by wood smoke during drying or storage which gives a characteristic smoky off-flavour. This flavour is often reminiscent of smoke cured bacon.
An acid taste can arise through excessive acidity developing during fermentation and it generally inhibits the chocolate flavour from developing
Bitterness is part of the chocolate flavour but it becomes a problem if it is excessive. Bitterness and astringency are caused by poor fermentation or poor planting materials.
Cocoa beans can absorb flavours from other products such as rubber, oil based paints etc. during storage and transport.
The International Confectionery Association (ICA), formerly the International Office of Cocoa, Chocolate and Sugar Confectionery (IOCCC), have a procedure for identifying flavour defects and off-flavours in cocoa liquor.
It is a test that can be carried out by a panel of five to ten people and does not require any specialised training or equipment. The ICA can be contacted at: 1 rue Defacqz, B1000 Brussels, Belgium. Tel; +32 (2) 539 18 00 Fax: +32 (2) 539 15 75
In summary, the cocoa tree is very particular about where it is grown. It grows almost exclusively from 10 degrees north of the equator to 10 degrees south of the equator, an area known as the tropical belt; and because it is rather narrow, the number of countries in which it may be grown productively is very limited.
Today, the top ten producing cocoa-growing countries are (in order) the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, New Guinea, and Malaysia.
Interestingly, the Ivory Coast grows more cocoa than the next six producers combined. It is from the Ivory Coast that most of the world’s consumer and industrial grade cocoa originates.
The cocoa tree is actually quite forgiving in the amount of rain it requires. Anywhere from 45 to 200 inches of rain is typical in cocoa growing regions. The trees may be grown in areas that have less rain, but in these cases, irrigation is needed to provide adequate water.
While cocoa trees will grow in areas with relatively low humidity and rainfall, the cocoa tree is sensitive to wide fluctuations in temperature or humidity, so they must be grown in areas where weather is consistent.
Furthermore, cocoa trees are very susceptible to wind, because their branches break easily. Strong winds will quickly tear through a cocoa plantation, breaking trees and destroying fruit. To avoid this, many plantations build windbreaks to assist in sheltering the cocoa trees from possible harsh winds.
The rich, bush soil found in cocoa-growing regions and the varying amounts of rain available to cocoa crops are but two of the key factors responsible for creating cocoa’s widely varying and unique flavours.
Just as flavors in wine are dependant on when the grapes are harvested, the flavours of the cocoa bean will vary depending on whether the cocoa was harvested in the fall or spring season.
The amounts of rain and sun the cocoa tree receives, in addition to the nutrients found in the rich tropical soil, are like the paint and brush strokes through which the flavours of the cocoa are enjoyed.
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