Chocolate is a sweet treat that is loved the world over, but many folks ask the question, does chocolate come from fruit? Let’s find out.
Many people who wonder where chocolate comes from often ask whether chocolate or cocoa is a vegetable, fruit, or nut.
Most people know that chocolate comes from cocoa beans, but a few realize that cocoa beans come from fruit. The Theobroma tree produces cocoa pods, which are harvested and opened to reveal the cocoa beans inside. The pods are then fermented, dried, and roasted before they are ground into a powder.
Many chocolate enthusiasts and chocolate makers who are interested in learning about every aspect of chocolate making also want to know the basics, like where does chocolate come from? Here, we are going to find out the answer to this question and so much more.
As chocolate enthusiasts, who have asked the same question to many chocolate makers, we are in the ideal position to provide you with an answer to your question.
Does Chocolate Come from a Fruit?
Chocolate is found in candy bars, cereals, and other products. It is one of the most popular flavors in both North America and Europe. Despite its widespread appeal, most people are unaware of this beloved treat's unusual roots. Chocolate is a product that needs a number of steps to manufacture.
Harvesting, refining, and delivering the cocoa beans to the manufacturing facility for washing, coaching, and grinding are all part of the process. These cocoa beans will then be imported or exported to other nations, where they will be processed into various chocolate products.
Chocolate is a group of foods made from cocoa (cacao) that are combined with fat (such as cocoa butter) and sugar to form a solid confectionery. There are various sorts of chocolate, each with its own classification based on the amount of cocoa used in the recipe.
To understand why chocolate comes from a fruit and not a vegetable, you need to first know what cocoa is. Cacao pods, commonly known as the 'Leguminous Fruit,' are produced by cocoa plants. These pods usually sprout three to four years after the cultivation.
They start out green, but as they grow, they turn yellow and orange. On trunks, these pods or fruits, which are 5-14 inches long and 3-6 inches broad, resemble a jackfruit. The purple-hued 'Cocoa Seeds' found in the pods are the essential component in the production of cocoa butter or solids.
The farmed tree grows to be 15 to 25 feet tall when fully mature; however, the tree in its natural condition can grow to be 60 feet tall or more. The cacao tree's fruit is a football-shaped pod. Picking ripe cocoa pods is a challenging task. Because the cacao tree is weak and its roots are shallow, damage to workers is a risk that cannot be taken while attempting to reach pods higher up in the tree.
The pods are collected in baskets and delivered to the breaking process after being taken from the tree. The woody shells are normally broken open with one or two lengthwise strikes from a well-wielded machete. Farmers that are more careful will tap the cocoa pod against a rock or tree as soon as possible.
Farmers that are more careful will bang the cocoa pod against a rock or tree, which will easily crack apart, enabling the beans to be scooped out without damaging the cocoa pod. Five hundred pods can be opened every hour with a decent breaker. The husk and inner membrane are removed after scooping 20 to 50 cream-colored beans from a normal pod. Each cacao tree may provide two to three pounds of dried cacao beans each year.
A single worker can gather around 1500 pods every day, which is enough to make roughly 120 pounds of bittersweet chocolate. Another employee will need a whole day to open those pods for fermentation.
The time it takes to harvest pods is determined by meteorological and geographical factors. The seeds are found within the fibrous pulp of the pods. There are roughly 20-50 seeds in the pulp. Banana leaves are used for the fermentation process, where the purple color fades, and the pulp separates from the seeds. Depending on the pods and seeds, the fermentation process might take anywhere from 8 to 12 days.
Following this, the seeds are allowed to dry in the sun for 3-5 days. The seeds are ready to be transported once the moisture in them has evaporated. They roast and grind them with sugar and pack them according to their production method when they arrive at the chocolate-producing equipment.
Few people know this, but one pound of chocolate requires around 400 cocoa seeds. Each chocolate maker has its own formula for making chocolate from these seeds.
Cacao is derived from the cacao tree, which is extremely difficult to cultivate. It only produces fruit within a 20-degree range to the north and south of the equator. However, even inside this tropical region, the tree will not thrive if the height is so high that the resultant temperature is less than 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit).
Cacao also needs rain all year. Its susceptibility to a variety of illnesses is exacerbated by poor growth circumstances. When the conditions are ideal for the tree, however, the seeds will sprout in a matter of days, and the tree will begin yielding fruit after four years.
Some interesting facts about the cocoa tree are that it stops producing fruit after 25 years, despite the fact that it may survive for much longer. To avoid direct sunshine and wind, it always grows behind the much higher rainforest canopy in the wild. It requires a ground cover to keep soil wet, which its decaying leaves provide.
Only around 5% of cocoa blossoms are pollinated. Its trunk and primary branches are covered with flowers. Little midges, not bees, pollinate the blossoms of the plant. It is unable to discharge its seeds on its own; it requires the assistance of animals or people to open its pods.
Ingredients including sugar, milk, and vanilla are used to produce chocolate. A percentage is shown on certain chocolate bars. The higher the number, the more cacao is used. A dark chocolate bar with an 88 percent cacao content would have more cacao and a richer, more bitter chocolate flavor. Many dark chocolate bars have a cacao content of around 60%. Milk chocolate contains a lower cacao content (30%), as well as milk, vanilla, and a greater sugar level in general.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore