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From: Great White North (
Subject:         Cacao Harvesting
Date: April 29, 2014 at 6:04 am PST

In Reply to: Re: i want some more information/actual facts about.... posted by heidi jane on April 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm:

Hey Heidi,
below is some info I found online about harvesting
Cacao beans. So even if it is "raw" it has still
been fermented.



Fermentation can be carried out in a variety of
ways, but all methods depend on removing the beans
from the pods and piling them together or in a box
to allow micro-organisms to develop and initiate the
fermentation of the pulp surrounding the beans. The
piles are covered by banana leaves.

The fermentation process begins with the growth of
micro-organisms. In particular, yeasts grow on the
pulp surrounding the beans. Insects, such as the
Drosophila melanogaster or vinegar-fly, are probably
responsible for the transfer of micro-organisms to
the heaps of beans. The yeasts convert the sugars in
the pulp surrounding the beans to ethanol. Bacteria
then start to oxidise the ethanol to acetic acid and
then to carbon dioxide and water, producing more
heat and raising the temperature. The pulp starts to
break down and drain away during the second day. In
anaerobic conditions, the alcohol converts to lactic
acid but, as the acetic acid more actively oxidises
the alcohol to acetic acid, conditions become more
aerobic and halt the activity of lactic acid. The
temperature is raised to 40ºC - 45ºC during the
first 48 hours of fermentation. In the remaining
days, bacterial activity continues under increasing
aeration conditions, as the pulp drains away and the
temperature is maintained. The process of turning or
mixing the beans increases aeration and consequently
bacterial activity. The acetic acid and high
temperatures kill the cocoa bean by the second day.
The death of the bean causes cell walls to break
down and previously segregated substances to mix.
This allows complex chemical changes to take place
in the bean such as enzyme activity, oxidation and
the breakdown of proteins into amino acids. These
chemical reactions cause the chocolate flavour and
colour to develop. The length of fermentation varies
depending on the bean type, Forastero beans require
about 5 days and Criollo beans 2-3 days.

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