Chocolate straight from the bean
04.10.2013 - 04.10.2013
We found a family farm called La Iguana Chocolate tucked in the mountains between Monteverde and Quepos. Lucky for us, our micro-machine rental 4x4 dominated the long and bumpy road with only one minor issue… when we got out of the car, the passenger side panel was hanging on by a thread!
Juan and his family have been living and working on the farm for over 40 years, and is one of the last farms in the area that didn’t switch his cacao for other standard cash crops. They have a small operation that focused on providing enough sustenance for the family and their equipment is all handmade… for example, their cacao butter press is an adapted car jack!
We spent the morning learning about the entire cacao process turning the harvest into edible chocolate. We probably ate more chocolate before noon than we have ever have in one day! Along with the delicious chocolates we made, we also ate chocolate cake, chocolate milk, and roasted cacao beans (cacao nibs)!
For those interested, here is a short summary of the process we went through to create our very own chocolate:
1. Harvesting - Pods are harvested from the trees and the cacao beans are taken out of the pods with the sticky fruit still surrounding the seeds.
2. Fermenting - Beans with the fruit are fermented over about 3-4 days so the sticky fruit comes off of the beans.
3. Drying - Beans are dried in the sun.
4. Roasting - Beans are pan roasted or stored for future roasting.
5. De-shelling - After roasting, a fine shell is removed from the beans.
6. Grinding - Beans are then put through a grinder and crushed into “cacao liquor”
7. Pressing - Cacao liquor is pressed to separate the cacao butter
8. Grinding again – the pressed stuff is then put through a fine grind and turned into what we usually call “cocao powder”
9. Making Chocolate - Chocolate is made from three ingredients: cacao powder, cacao butter, and sugar!