Botanical Name: Theobroma cacao
- English: Cacao, Coco powder, Cocoa solids
- Also, known as: Chocolate Tree, Kakao
Parts Used: The seeds
The tree is evergreen, handsome, 18-20 feet high; trunk about 4 feet long; wood light and white colored; bark brown; simple leaves, bright green, entire; flowers small reddish, almost odorless. The fruit reddish brown, formed directly on the trunk, smooth; rind flesh- colored; pulp white; when seeds are ripe they rattle in the capsule when shaken; each capsule contains about 20-50 seeds; if separated from the capsule they soon become infertile, but if kept therein they retain their fertility for a long time. They have a bitter taste but the typical chocolate aroma develops only after they are fermented and roasted. Ripe seeds (cacao beans) are about 25 mm long. The tree bears its leaves, flowers, and fruit all the year round.
The tree is generally cultivated on large estates under the shade of other trees, such as the banana, and develops the pods continuously. When ripe they are cut open and the beans or nuts surrounded by their sweetish acid pulp can ferment so that they may be more easily separated from the shell. The beans are then usually dried in the sun, though sometimes in a steam drying shed. Cocoa is prepared by grinding the beans into a paste between hot rollers and part of the fat being removed. Chocolate is prepared in much the same way, but the fat is retained.
Cacao beans contain about 50% fat (known as cocoa butter) and 50% cocoa solids. The seeds are roasted, pulverized and half of the fat is extracted, while the remaining material is dried and powdered to form cacao powder. Chocolate is made from cacao powder, milk powder and sugar. Cocoa drinks are made from chocolate or cocoa powder mixed with water or milk. Chocolate has numerous applications in desserts, confectionery, sweets, and truffles.
When you stand in front of the chocolate display at the grocery store, you may not realize it, but you are looking at one of the most popular herbs of all time!
How to use:
As a food ingredient.
You should consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
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