A blog by the Food and Society class at Hanover College
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
"Food of the Gods"
FOOD of the GODS: CHOCOLATE!!!
Tomorrow I am going to do my food presentation on chocolate chip blondies and I was curious about the production of chocolate. I have never really looked into the process, but I gained a lot of my interest last year when Jasmine O'Conner did a presentation about fair trade chocolate. I thought the presentation was very intriguing, however, I never really got a chance to educate myself on the matter. I only learned what Jasmine had printed on a flyer that was attached to a piece of fair trade chocolate. So, I think now, taking this course, is the perfect time to research the production of chocolate--from the cocoa field to the molding of the candy bar.
Why is chocolate called the "Food of the Gods?"
The plant chocolate comes from, the cacao tree or Theobroma, which is Greek for "Food of the Gods." It is grown in over 70 tropical countries and by over 2 million producers. The craziest thing is that it can take up to five years for a cacao tree to produce the cocoa pods.
What do we do with the ripe pods?
The ripe pods are harvested twice a year. The pods are cut down from the trees with care to make sure that they can bloom in the next season. After being cut down from the tree, the pods are cut in half and the beans are exposed. The beans are then fermented to stop them from germinating. The fermentation process is essential to get the best quality of chocolate.
How do we get the chocolate we eat?
After fermentation, the beans are laid out to dry and later taken to be roasted. The roasting process brings out the natural cocoa flavor. Once roasted, the beans are "winnowed" to remove the shells and leave the chocolate pieces behind. These pieces are then ground into chocolate liquor (which has zero alcohol although the name implies) and other ingredients such as sugar are added. This liquor can then be molded into the "Food of the Gods": CHOCOLATE!
I think that the production of chocolate is so fascinating. We take chocolate for granted because it is always so readily available to us, but yet we still need to keep in mind those that work (often under slave labor) to produce our guilty pleasure. We need to be mindful of the production and also support fair trade chocolate companies.