Tag Archive: cocoa beans

Chocolate Just Made the Endangered Foods List

With the holidays just around the corner, chocolate goodies and candies span as far as the eye can see.

In the grocery store, we stroll past red and green colored chocolates in all our favorite varieties. We’re busily searching for recipes to bring to our neighborhood bake swap, or fantasizing about the goodies grandma has in store for us this year.

Can you imagine a holiday without chocolate? If you think that would simply be the end of the world, you might want to stock up on your favorites, because we’re in for a chocolate shortage.

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Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs have enjoyed an increased amount of attention lately.  They are turning up almost everywhere nowadays, but since they are often just added to other products, many people don't really know what they are.

Nibs are actually cocoa beans with the shell removed.  By the time you get them as an ingredient they have usually undergone roasting and prepping to a point that making them into bars is the only major step that remains.

The chocolate making process consists of grinding up the cocoa nibs into a very consistent and thick paste and then adding sugar. For milk chocolate, milk powder would be added.  For some chocolate, extra cocoa butter might be added. But the basis of all chocolates are the ground up nibs.
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Cocoa Shell Mulch

Did you know that the outer covering of the cacao bean, called the cocoa shell, can be used for mulch? Gardeners everywhere are raving about it.

Cocoa shell mulch is also known as the Sunshine of Africa. It's actually just a byproduct of chocolate industries coming from the cocoa beans. The shell contains 2.5% Nitrogen, 1% Phosphate, and 3% Potash with a pH of 5.8.

Cocoa shell mulch serves as all-purpose mulch for professional gardeners and amateur gardeners alike. It can be utilized by landscapers and horticulturists, as well. It is great as decorative mulch due to its nice-looking deep copper color. Its rich color pleasantly contrasts with the vibrant green color of plants.  And, it smells great too!
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Magnesium-Loaded Cocoa Beans

Maintaining a good health can be particularly tricky in this day and age. With all the processed and cholesterol-loaded food available in the market, it gets all the harder especially when the less healthy stuff is a more accessible and affordable option.

Having healthy foods as a staple in your diet is key. Cocoa beans, for one, pack a lot of nutritional benefits. Did you know that the cocoa bean is the richest source of magnesium in nature? You read right. What is magnesium, by the way?

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a significant role in your health, and it's actually contained in several parts of your body. To enable your body to absorb the ingested calcium properly, there should be enough magnesium available. A lot of individuals take calcium supplements and fail to realize that magnesium is required for optimal calcium absorption. That being said, you can consume cocoa along with the calcium supplements that you are taking.
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The Cacao Tree

Probably by now, you know that chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree. Let me share some tidbits about all you chocoholics' own version of "tree of life".

Cacao trees are tiny evergreen trees that are only about 6 meters tall. These trees produce fruit and flowers all year round and they are cultivated in countries within 10 degrees North and 10 degrees South of the Equator where the climate is most favorable for the cultivation of cacao trees as they require warm and humid environment. Furthermore, cacao trees need fertile and well-irrigated soil along with regular rainfall to grow their best.
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A Global Chocolate Shortage?

Devastatingly, there has been a global shortage of cocoa beans. And this might be the reason for the skyrocketing of the price of chocolate in the near future.

Chocolate makers are thinking of different helpful strategies that can remedy the situation such as upping the amount of nuts, fillers, or any other ingredients just to bulk out chocolate candies.

The reasons behind this demand are said to be the rise in the popularity of cocoa in China, the spread of awareness about the many health benefits of chocolate, and the constant and rising demand for dark chocolate.
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From Bean To Bar

While in search of nature’s medicines, the Medicine Hunter named Chris Kilham is famous for his venture which entails trying out peculiar food, but the most recent one made him lean towards the "sweeter" side.

Just recently, Kilham took a trip to Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn, N.Y. to witness the behind-the-scenes in chocolate making.

Time and again, research has revealed that chocolate is in point of fact beneficial for you, health-wise. The benefits involve protecting the heart and mind, even sex drive.

In 2007, brothers Mike and Rick Mast started manufacturing organic chocolate made from some of the best cocoa beans worldwide, and they make approximately 5,000 bars every week .
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The Different Types of Cacao Beans

Just because there’s only one species of Theobroma cacao doesn’t mean there are no different types of cacao beans. However, even experts themselves can’t seem to agree on how many types of cacao beans there actually are, but let’s stick with 4.

Why in the world would you even care about this mumbo jumbo? Well, for starters, one word, flavor. While most of us are happily content with any chocolate in hand just as long as it’s good, true blue chocolate lovers take pleasure in the subtle differences in aroma, taste, and texture between the different cacao bean varieties.

The first type of cacao beans is the Criollo. It was initially cultivated by the Mesoamericans and is generally considered to be the most excellent worldwide. It has a rich, intricate aroma, and a profound yet smooth flavor. Criollo beans require just a little fermentation and short roasting to draw out the flavors.
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The Beginning of Chocolate

Chocolate has been around for millennia now, and the history is extremely long and diverse. The earliest references of chocolate were over fifteen hundred years ago in the Central American Rain Forest, an ideal environment for the cultivation of the Cacao Tree because of the mix of high rain fall, temperature and humidity.

The Mayan culture worshiped the Cacao tree as they believed it was of divine origin and it symbolized life and fertility. Cacao is actually a Mayan word which meant “God Food”, modernly coined as “Food of the Gods”. The Mayans were believed to be brewing and drinking this spicy bittersweet beverage by roasting, grinding and fermenting the seeds of the Cacao Tree. This was intended for the wealthy and elite.

The Aztecs, like Mayans, also have their own version of the fermented drink and they called it Xocolatl, meaning “bitter water”. Their Emperor, Montezuma, allegedly believed that this was an aphrodisiac, and drank almost 50 cups a day. The beans were even used as currency and considered as treasure that when Spaniards came and searched for gold and silver, they found no more than the beans.
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Crio Bru

If you've known me for a while you might know that I enjoy a good cup of coffee.  While it's not chocolate, it's still a flavor I look forward to.

Crio Bru - Brewed CocoaWell, that all might change a bit.  I just learned about Crio Bru.  It's a drink that is brewed like coffee, but it is made of 100% cocoa beans.  Like coffee, the beans are roasted and ground.  You put the grounds in your coffee maker.

And, according to a press release I read, "Crio Bru delivers the same intense, complex flavors of the finest cocoa beans found in artisan dark chocolate."

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