dinsdag 31 mei 2011

Balinese Cacao Beans - what’s the scoop

Bali Cacao is one of the last remaining under-commercialized, under-manipulated origins of cacao on earth. Historically, cacao found its way onto the verdant slopes of Bali via the Isle of Java. Java was the site of some of the very first planting of cacao outside of its native origin in southern Mexico and over the centuries cacao fruits, seeds and trees were traded or carried into Bali. In Bali, cacao found both the perfect ecosystem; diverse, shady, damp and cool, as well as the perfect guardian; the Balinese practice natural food forest agriculture and the cacao was allowed to thrive wild and free without breeding for production capacity or other traits. Typical cacao in Bali grows under a canopy of coconuts, mango, mangosteens and durian and grows alongside coffee, bananas and papaya with vines of vanilla climbing up the trunk…A truly beautiful natural system and a truly unique and powerful wild mix of cacao genetics.
More history….  in the day of the Maya and into the days of the Aztecs, the coastal region of Soconusco, Mexico was the growing region of the prized cacao gardens of these Meso-American cultures.  When the Spanish arrived, they  learned of this prized crop and quickly took control.
Today, the lore of these genetics still ring true; in particular, Theobroma Pentagones.  At the time of the Spanish Conquest, this strain was considered the most prized of all cacaos in the Aztec kingdom.  This almost extinct strain of cacao, hinges on a few controlled botanical gardens in the tropics.  Perhaps one day, she will flourish again and the world will understand why the Aztecs cherished this variety.
Surprisingly, the first country to receive cacao outside of the Americas was the Philippines.  The Spanish explorers took beans/seedlings of these cherished cacaos of Soconusco along with them on their journey westward across the great Pacific.  Cacao flourished in the Philippines and eventually made it’s way south into Indonesia, in particular to the island of Java.  Here, the Dutch took these prized genetics and planted vast plantations of highly prized cacao.  The most valued plantations were located on the eastern part of Java, because of it’s fertile lands and perfect conditions for cacao cultivation.  Today, the Java Criollo is still regarded as one of the most sought after and rare cacaos in the world.
The same cacao genetics that made it’s way to Java, made it’s way to the small island next door - Bali.  But Bali was anything but an island of plantations.  Bali, as it is to this day, was a mystical island of small family farms with a deep history of multi-cropping; the tradition of growing multiple crops on a piece of land.  In Bali, these lands are referred to as “food forests’.  Quite literally, you can walk into the rich, fertile back yards of Bali and feed yourself with a wondrous meal of cacao, clove, durian, mangosteen, vanilla, rice, banana, coconut and a myriad of other exotic and nutritious foods.
For over a century, these cacao genetics have changed very little.  Bali, being a remote island that doesn’t produce much cacao, has pretty much been forgotten in the greater world of cacao and has been ignored in regards to introducing other varieties, clones or hybrids.  (Now, as a quick disclaimer, the owners of Big Tree Farms, being very experienced in the world of cacao and organic agriculture in general, do not feel new varieties or hybrids of cacao are, in any way, lower quality than “heirloom” strains.  Cacao, as humans or any other species, in order to survive must change and adapt.  We respect cacao unconditionally and prefer to honor this sacred fruit, regardless of it’s origin.  Who are we to insult Mother Nature?).
The Bali cacao that BTF offers is of incredible quality and flavor.  The flavor profile tends to be very gentle and mild with notes of the exotic fruits and spices that also inhabit the food farms; clove, nutmeg, banana and vanilla.  It is truly a fantastic cacao for all purposes.
Big Tree Farms also works with cacao farmers on the island of Lombok and are now starting to work with farmers on the island of Sumatra.  We hope to offer these origins to our raw cacao customers in the very near future and when we do, we will offer more details on the history of each origin.

Health 3/3


There is a popular belief that the consumption of chocolate can cause acne. This belief is not supported by scientific studies.[71][72] Various studies point not to chocolate, but to the high glycemic nature of certain foods, like sugar, corn syrup, and other simple carbohydrates, as a cause of acne.[73][74][75][76] Chocolate itself has a low glycemic index.[77] Other dietary causes of acne cannot be excluded yet, but more rigorous research is required.[78]

Toxicity in animals

In sufficient amounts, the theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to animals such as horses, dogs, parrots, small rodents, and cats because they are unable to metabolise the chemical effectively.[2] If they are fed chocolate, the theobromine will remain in their bloodstream for up to 20 hours, and these animals may experience epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually death. Medical treatment performed by a veterinarian involves inducing vomiting within two hours of ingestion and administration of benzodiazepines or barbiturates for seizures, antiarrhythmics for heart arrhythmias, and fluid diruesis.
A typical 20-kilogram (40-lb) dog will normally experience great intestinal distress after eating less than 240 grams (8.5 oz) of dark chocolate, but will not necessarily experience bradycardia or tachycardia unless it eats at least a half a kilogram (1.1 lb) of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has 2 to 5 times more theobromine and thus is more dangerous to dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, approximately 1.3 grams of baker’s chocolate per kilogram of a dog’s body weight (0.02 oz/lb) is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity. For example, a typical 25-gram (0.88 oz) baker’s chocolate bar would be enough to bring about symptoms in a 20-kilogram (44 lb) dog. Of course, baking chocolate is rarely consumed directly due to its unpleasant taste, but other dark chocolates’ canine toxicities may be extrapolated based on this figure. As dogs like the taste of chocolate products as much as humans do[citation needed], and are capable of finding and eating quantities much larger than typical human servings, they should be kept out of their reach. There are reports that mulch made from cacao bean shells is dangerous to dogs and livestock.[83][84][85]

Health 2/3


Romantic lore commonly identifies chocolate as an aphrodisiac. The reputed aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate are most often associated with the simple sensual pleasure of its consumption. Although there is no proof that chocolate is indeed an aphrodisiac, a gift of chocolate is a familiar courtship ritual.

Muscle recovery

A study from James Madison University, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, showed that post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk provides equal or possibly superior muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories. Athletes consuming chocolate milk had significantly lower levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle damage, compared to drinkers of carbohydrate beverage. Sweating causes loss of fluid and also important minerals, including calcium, potassium and magnesium. The 2-hour window after exercise is an important, but often neglected opportunity to recover. [64]

Other benefits

Very little evidence exists to suggest whether consuming flavonoid-rich dark chocolate may increase or decrease the risk of cancer.
Studies suggest a specially formulated type of cocoa may be nootropic and delay brain function decline as people age.[65]
Mars, Incorporated, a Virginia-based candy company, spends money each year on flavonol research.[66] The company is talking with pharmaceutical companies to license drugs based on synthesized cocoa flavonol molecules. According to Mars-funded researchers at Harvard, the University of California, and European universities, cocoa-based prescription drugs could potentially help treat diabetes, dementia and other diseases.[67]
Theobromine was found to be almost one third more effective than codeine, the leading cough medicine.[68]
Flavonoids can inhibit the development of diarrhea, suggesting antidiarrhoeal effects of cocoa.[69]

maandag 30 mei 2011

Health 1/3

While chocolate is regularly eaten for pleasure, there are potential beneficial health effects of eating chocolate. Cocoa or dark chocolate benefits the circulatory system.[49] Other beneficial effects suggested include anticancer, brain stimulator, cough preventor and antidiarrhoeal effects.[50] An aphrodisiac effect is yet unproven.
On the other hand, the unconstrained consumption of large quantities of any energy-rich food such as chocolate is thought to increase the risk of obesity without a corresponding increase in activity. Raw chocolate is high in cocoa butter, a fat which is removed during chocolate refining, then added back in in varying proportions during the manufacturing process. Manufacturers may add other fats, sugars, and milk as well, all of which increase the caloric content of chocolate.
There is concern of mild lead poisoning for some types of chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to many animals because of insufficient capacity to metabolize theobromine.[2]
A study reported by the BBC indicated that melting chocolate in one’s mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.[51]

Circulatory benefits

Recent studies have suggested that cocoa or dark chocolate may possess certain beneficial effects on human health. This is mainly caused by a particular substance present in cocoa called epicatechin.[52] Cocoa possesses a significant antioxidant action, protecting against LDL oxidation, perhaps more than other polyphenol antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. Some studies have also observed a modest reduction in blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation after consuming dark chocolate daily.[53] Consuming milk chocolate or white chocolate, or drinking fat-containing milk with dark chocolate, appears largely to negate the health benefit.[54] Processed cocoa powder (so called Dutch chocolate), processed with alkali greatly reduces the antioxidant capacity as compared to “raw” cocoa powder. Processing cocoa with alkali destroys most of the flavonoids.[55]
One-third of the fat in chocolate comes in the forms of a saturated fat called stearic acid and a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. However, unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.[56] Consuming relatively large amounts of dark chocolate and cocoa does not seem to raise serum LDL cholesterol levels; some studies even find that it could lower them.[57] Indeed, small but regular amounts of dark chocolate lower the possibility of a heart attack,[27].
A study performed at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and appearing the Journal of Internal Medicine (Sep 2009), found that survivors of heart attacks who ate chocolate at least two or three times a week reduced their risk of death by a factor of up to three times compared to survivors who did not eat chocolate. The benefits were specific to chocolate and not to other sweets. [58] [59] [60] [61][62][63]

The Consuming Countries 3/3

Traditionally, cocoa is cultivated in producing countries and sold for export in the form of beans. Importing countries then process the beans, transforming the raw goods into finished or semi-finished products (cocoa butter, cocoa liqueur, cocoa powder, etc.). In recent years, in an effort to increase the value of exports, some producer countries, such as the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Brazil, have developed their own facilities for grinding beans.

World consumption is estimated at 2 800 000 tons per year. The largest cocoa importers are Europe (more than 1.2 million tons per year) and the United States (0.4 million tons per year). The largest importers are Holland, the US, Germany, Britain and Brazil.

EuropeEuropean countries are the largest consumers of cocoa and chocolate. Each country has its own preferences and style of chocolate, the popularity of different products varying according to national taste. On average, the Swiss munch approximately 10.55 kg of chocolate per person per year. As a nation, Great Britain consumes more than 500,000 tons of chocolate per year. In France, the average consumption per person is 6.8 kg per year, with the New Year and Easter celebrations being the most important occasions for tasting and offering chocolate gifts. Eastern European countries are considered an important emerging new market and should remain so for the foreseeable future.

North America
According to one study conducted in the United States, 52% of Americans considered chocolate their favorite flavor for desserts and confections. Historically, Americans have demonstrated a clear preference for milk chocolate, although appreciation for dark chocolate appears to be increasing, particularly among baby boomers. Average consumption is 5.68 kg per person per year.

The Rest of the World
Since the start of the 1990s, Asia has developed into a major chocolate market. Japan has experienced a significant increase in chocolate consumption during the past decade. Demand in China increased to 9,000 tons in 2000, an increase of more than 90% from the previous year! Among cocoa producing countries, Brazil has seen an increase of 10% in its annual consumption per person since 1993.

The Producing Countries 2/3

There is a stark distinction between ordinary cocoa and fine or aromatic cocoa. Ordinary cocoa, derived from the Forastero variety of cocoa tree, represents 95% of world production. Fine or aromatic cocoa derived from the Criollo and Trinitario varieties accounts for only 5% of world production. West Africa, which supplies approximately 70% of global output, is easily the most important cocoa production region in the world in terms of economics. The most important individual countries are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Among non-African countries producing significant amounts of cocoa are Indonesia, Brazil, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Malaysia

AfricaAs a result of their importance in terms of world production, West African producers are seeking to increase their cocoa output. Cocoa growing represents an important source of revenue for large numbers of small farm-owners. Most plantations are family farms of 2-10 hectares. This production is particularly significant in national economic terms because local demand for cocoa is relatively weak and therefore almost all production is for export. In Africa, cocoa beans are generally harvested in September and October, although the season can continue until January or March.

Latin America/Caribbean South American production represented approximately 14% of world production in 2002/2003 (418,000 tons). The original source of cocoa, Brazil, remained the largest producer throughout the 19th century. Although overtaken by West African countries in overall production, Brazil retains its place of primacy in Latin America (output of 163,000 tons of cocoa in 2002/2003). Production is concentrated in large-scale plantations. Ecuador takes second place with 78,000 tons. Other important producers in this region, including Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, produce a total of approximately 170,000 tons. Production levels are quite vulnerable to climate changes and parasites which can damage the fruit or in some instances destroy the entire tree. Within the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic represents approximately 2% of world production. Other producers include Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada.

Asia/OceaniaBeginning in the mid 1980s, Malaysia emerged as one of the principal sources of cocoa, providing 450,000 hectares of production by 1989. During the 1990s, Malaysia was overtaken by Indonesia, which gained 17% of total world production in 2001-2002. While Malaysia has been deploying a policy to diversify its agricultural output, Indonesia has been keenly focused on expanding cocoa production. As in Latin America, most Asian production occurs on larger, more industrialized farms.

zaterdag 28 mei 2011

The Development of the Cocao World Market 1/3

Global production of cocoa is concentrated effectively in the regions between 10° North and 10° south of the Equator. Cocoa was first imported to Spain from South America by Hernando Cortez in 1528. In an unsuccessful attempt to satisfy the growing demands of the Spanish court, an early effort to expand cultivation of cocoa was made in the Caribbean. Finally, in 1635, cocoa was successfully cultivated in Ecuador by the Capuchin monastic order.

At the end of the 17th century, other European nations succeeded in establishing cocoa production in regions conducive to its cultivation throughout the Caribbean and South America: Curacao (Holland), Jamaica (Great Britain), Martinique and St Lucia, the Dominican Republic (known as Hispaniola in the 17th century), Brazil (Portugal), Guyana and Grenada (France).

During the 19th century, increasing demand for cocoa led to its introduction in Africa, including Principe, Sao Tome, Fernando Po, Nigeria and Ghana. Between 1925 and 1939, African production expanded to Cameroon, concurrent with its colonization.
Trinitario cocoa was also introduced to Sri Lanka (Ceylan) for the first time in 1834, then reintroduced in 1880. Subsequently, Cocoa was planted in Singapore, the Fijian and Samoan Islands, Tanzania, Madagascar and Java.

In Europe cocoa was originally consumed as a beverage. Innovations as a result of industrial development gradually reduced the costs of production and led to the development of solid chocolate on a wide scale. Chocolate steadily became more broadly available, and, by the end of the 19th century, was considered a basic food element of the typical French family.

vrijdag 27 mei 2011

Chocolatemousse with Amano 70% Venezuela

Basis-Crème anglaise:
400 g room 35%
400 g volle melk
160 g eierdooiers
80 g fijne kristalsuiker

Breng de room met de melk aan de kook en giet dit over de eierdooiers en de suiker die u vooraf
(zonder te blancheren) gemengd heeft. Kook het mengsel op 82/84°C totdat het aan de lepel
blijft kleven, haal door de puntzeef met zeefdoek en gebruik onmiddellijk, of zet weg en laat snel afkoelen.

900 g basis-crème anglaise
1000 g Amano 70%
1350 g fleurette 35%

Emulgeer de gesmolten chocolade en de crème anglaise met de garde, de temperatuur van het
mengsel moet 45/50°C zijn.
Stabiliseer de emulsie zo nodig door een deel van de tot schuim geklopte scheproom toe te
Controleer de temperatuur zodra het mengsel glad is en voeg de resterende tot schuim geblazen room toe.


The Online Cuenca Chocolate Tour, Savoring Cuenca's Finest Chocolate

If you love chocolate as much as I do, you're going to enjoy the online Cuenca Chocolate Tour. Yes, it's so good it's worthy of capital letters!

We're going to take you on a full meal where every course has chocolate in it. Yes, even the appetizer and the entrée.
Are you ready? Then let's get started tasting the best of Cuenca's chocolate. Fortunately, all of our tour locations are in El Centro, Cuenca's downtown area, so we won't have much walking (virtual or otherwise) to do.

The Menu

El Pedregal Azteca offers appetizers, salads, soups, traditional Mexican dishes, a tourist menu (available all day), and lunches (from noon until 3 p.m.).


Appetizers (antojitos) include guacamole, tacos, burritos, fajitas, nachos, chile con carne, jalapeños, frijoles (beans), and quesadillas.


Salads include caesar, chicken, tuna, vegetable and prehispanic.


Soups include tortilla, frijol, chicken, and vegetable.

Traditional Meals

The meals are from different areas of Mexico.
They include enchiladas, mole poblano, chile en nogada, pescado veracruzana, carne tampiqueña, and cochinita yucateca.
One of those meals is a chicken mole, which is a chicken breast covered with a spicy chocolate-based sauce.


Enjoy buñuelos oaxaqueños y arroz con leche.

The Bar

The ample bar serves straight tequila, margaritas, mojitos, and beers. There's also a wine selection.

Times, Prices, Taxes, Payment Options

The restaurant is open from noon until 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.
The lunch menu ranges from $2.10 to $4.50, tax included, depending on the special for that day. The tourist menu (a set menu of several items) is $9.50, tax included. All other items are less than $8.00. Two people can dine for less than $30.
Payment is by cash.


You'll find El Pedregal Azteca Restaurant at Gran Colombia 10-29 at Padre Aguirre (across from the Santo Domingo church). The phone number is 07-2823652 or 07-2833627. Or contact them at pazteca@etapa.net.


Organic & Fair Trade Certified 2/2

Fair Trade Certified
Fair trade certification allows farmers to receive higher prices than they would in the conventional market. It means that the farmers were paid a fair price for their product and were not exploited by middlemen who pay them less than their crop is worth. They are paid at least 5 cents more per pound, and are able to earn earn 3 to 5 times more, than conventional farmers. Coffee (the world’s second most traded commodity, after oil), cacao, and other farmed products are often produced under sweatshop conditions. Industrial workers don‘t earn the legal minimum wage. Small farmers are paid less for their crop than it can cost to grow it, locking them into a cycle of poverty and debt and forcing them to keep their children out of school to work the farm. Small farmers usually can’t get credit, and can easily lose their farms. Under Fair Trade, importers pay an established fair price regardless of the volatile market. Credit is provided at low rates; and small farmers who use traditional, sustainable techniques don’t have to lose their farms to industrial cooperatives that employ pesticides and aggressive deforestation.
The program also prohibits forced child labor, ensures safe working conditions and encourages environmentally sustainable farming methods as well as other measures to improve farmers’ lives. Fair Trade is part of a larger movement that began in the 1940s, with churches selling crafts made by World War II refugees. Fair Trade certification began in the Netherlands in 1988 due to of plummeting prices in the world coffee market. Today, 20 countries have labeling programs using shared criteria under the umbrella of Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International in Germany. In the United States, there is certification for cocoa, coffee, rice, fresh tropical fruits, sugar, tea and vanilla. For more information about Fair Trade visit Transfairusa.org and GlobalExchange.org.

Sources: http://www.thenibble.com/

Organic & Fair Trade Certified 1/2

Most organic products are not Fair Trade Certified, and many Fair Trade Certified products are not organic. The two terms are mutually exclusive, and are overseen by different certifying authorities.
Certified Organic
People seek organic products for two reasons: freedom from pesticides, herbicides and preservatives in their own diets, and because the agricultural practices that produce organic products do not harm the environment. Organic production fosters cycling of resources, promotes ecological balance and conserves biodiversity. There are three levels of organic certification:
To include the term organic on packaging, a manufacturer must create its product in accordance with USDA rules. The USDA’s National Organic Program certifies products as organic based on farming, handling, manufacturing, distribution and labeling practices. Requirements include: no antibiotics or growth hormones, no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, no sewage-sludge fertilizer, no bio-engineered foods or irradiation, and no GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
  • 100% Organic: All ingredients, not counting water and salt, are organic. Products with this rating can use the green and white “USDA Organic” seal (image at right).
  • Organic: At least 95% of the ingredients, measured by weight (excluding water and salt), must be organic. The remaining 5% can only be natural or synthetic ingredients that are not available organically, drawn from a preapproved USDA list. Products manufactured to this standard may use the “USDA Organic” seal on the label.
  • Made With Organic Ingredients: Products with at least 70% organic ingredients may say “Made With Organic Ingredients” and list up to three ingredients. This category may not use the “USDA Organic” seal on the label.
In the U.S., “certified organic” means that an independent organization accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has verified that a manufacturer’s products meet strictly defined organic standards as specified by the National Organic Program. This certification protects consumers and ensures the product’s value.

woensdag 25 mei 2011

Chocolate with a Conscience

Bean-to-bar chocolate makers strive to make chocolate a less guilty pleasure.
Quoted: Madre Chocolate bars are made locally, from bean to bar.

Hawaii’s new wave of cacao entrepreneurs are geeks. They savor a single square of chocolate, murmuring about tree fruit notes, citrus, caramel and coffee. They’re on [TheChocolateLife.com] (the Facebook for chocolatiers, cacao growers and enthusiasts) discussing chocolate ethnobotany and the reclassification of cacao varieties.
They may be new to the bean-to-bar business, but they’ve immersed themselves in all aspects of the culture: Seneca Klassen of KoKa Chocolate opened and ran Bittersweet, a chocolate café, for five years in San Francisco. Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate is an ethnobotanist who co-wrote a chapter on the ethnobotany and chemistry of cacao and chocolate, while his business partner, David Elliott, worked on rural development and environmental justice issues in cacao-growing regions of Ecuador and Bolivia.
“We’re passionate about every aspect of chocolate: the rich cultural history in the Americas and Europe, the link to fair trade and food sustainability issues, the science of the cacao plant and its cultivation, the engineering, ingenuity and craft involved in manufacturing it, connoisseurship and chocolate tasting,” Bletter says.
He, Elliott and Klassen know that chocolate is a guilty pleasure–and not just because it tastes so good. Chocolate has a certain social and environmental context. Consequently, they strive to make uniquely delicious bars in a socially responsible manner.
Klassen says, “The more I talked about chocolate, I found myself talking about these same issues which had to do with social and environmental justice, transparency, all the same things the rest of the food system is encountering; all these farm-to-table issues, knowing your food supply, understanding the chain of events that lead to this food.
“Chocolate is particularly challenged because the people who have marketed chocolate in the past have subtly encouraged consumers not to ask these questions. The facts of life are that an awful lot of our chocolate–mass-market chocolate–has a not very pleasant back story.
“I’m very curious to see what we can do to change the environmental footprint of the product. This is a very old-school colonial crop where you get a lot of steps that don’t add value, but do extract price. So there’s brokerage and shipping.
“Almost all of the processing of chocolate is done somewhere in the developed world in the northern hemisphere, and all of the chocolate grown comes from the tropical world. There’s just a tremendous amount of logistical movement. I’m interested in trying to provide a very small but legitimate kind of counterexample with local manufacture.”
Similarly, Bletter and Elliott describe their launch into making chocolate as a “social mission to make a positive impact on the lives of cacao farmers and their communities.”
In addition to working with local growers, Madre Chocolate makes a point to purchase raw, fermented beans directly from farmers and cooperatives. They’ve also developed a winemaker/farmer relationship with their growers by bringing finished chocolate back to the farm and “tasting the chocolate and comparing notes on what we’d like to improve,” Bletter says.

Madre Chocolate bars are made locally, from bean to bar.
Klassen’s approach is to do it himself, “to have a vertically integrated operation. Everything from planting trees, growing cacao, harvesting fruit, processing, the fermentation and drying and chocolate-making and selling things. To integrate the system and have a seamless, transparent operation.”
He’s growing cacao on 14 acres above Haleiwa.
So how does socially conscious chocolate taste? Judging by feedback from the recent Cacao Fest at the Haleiwa Farmers Market, delicious.
Klassen used the same formula on two different varieties of cacao, yielding completely different taste profiles and color: one blonde and one dark.
“It’s mind-blowing,” Klassen says. “You’re not used to seeing that much variation.”
Madre Chocolate will have samples at the Hawaii Chocolate Festival (see sidebar). Its Hawaiian chocolate bars are made with local cacao and ingredients, including lilikoi and pink peppercorn. Its line of Mexican chocolate showcases the terroir of chocolate’s birthplace and some of it has traditional ingredients like chipotles, cacahuaxochitl or jocote mixed in as well.
KoKa Chocolate, [kokachocolate.wordpress.com]
Madre Chocolate, [madrechocolate.com]

dinsdag 24 mei 2011

Chocolate Boost For Sao Tome Farmers

Farmers on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe, off the coast of West Africa, are again enjoying the sweet taste of success thanks to high-quality, organic, fair-trade cocoa - the raw ingredient for chocolate.

Once in the doldrums, production of the country's cocoa crop has risen sharply, registering a 10-fold increase since 2004.

Many of the small farmers, who were previously living on the edge of poverty, have seen a boost to their incomes."My life is different now," says Jose Esperansa, a small-scale cocoa farmer, who is now the managing director of CECEAQ-11, a cocoa-fermenting, drying and exporting co-operative.

The initiative, supported by the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) and Cafedirect, a British Fairtrade firm, has helped the co-operatives produce Fairtrade certified beans.

Sao Tome and Principe, a Portuguese colony until 1975, has an ideal climate and rich soils that are ideal for growing cocoa.

The crop was introduced in the 19th Century and cultivated by slaves brought from the African mainland, where they worked on plantations, known as rocas.

But by the late 1990s, the crop was in severe decline, partly because of a crash in the price of the commodity.The results were crippling, since cocoa made up 95% of the island's exports.Farmers lost faith in cocoa as a source of income and one politician even predicted the end of the industry on the islands.A quarter of farmers were left living below the poverty line.In order to reverse the industry's decline, Ifad commissioned French organic chocolate producer Kaoka to assess the country's cocoa sector.Kaoka found that if the farmers could produce cocoa certified as organic, they could improve the price of their crop.Now - in a scheme backed by Ifad and Cafedirect - the farmers' fortunes have been transformed.By coming together in co-operatives and by processing their cocoa, they have managed to get a much better return on their crop."Before Cafedirect I would work from day-to-day, hand-to-mouth," says Mr Esperansa.

"I did not think about the future."

Cafedirect head Anne MacCaig recently travelled to the islands to see how it was done.

"They have the facilities to ferment the product and then from that they are able to work together across the different organisations to dry the cocoa, collect it all in one central warehouse," she said.

"Then they are able to export it.

"They are benefiting from five times the price they had when they sold it as a gloopy white liquid."

Before the programme began in 2004, Sao Tome produced just 50 tonnes of cocoa.By mid-2010 this had risen to 600 tonnes of organic, fair-trade beans.Many producers have invested in home improvements and can now afford items like bicycles, generators, radios and refrigerators.The co-operatives are investing in primary health-care clinics and better sanitation.

But is the support for the cocoa crop tying the farmers into a single crop, monoculture?

Mrs MacCaig says it will not.

"Sao Tome is an island with incredibly rich volcanic soil, so if you can do this with cocoa, there are so many other products that can be grown as well."

Reproduccion Sexual del Cacao - Parte 2

Reproduccion Sexual del Cacao - Parte 1

woensdag 11 mei 2011

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Fermentation in bins.
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Fermentation in bins - Venezuela.
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Fermentation in bins.
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Cocoa tree and pod in Venezuela.
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Cocoa tree and pod - plantation in Venezuela.
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Cocoa pod section.
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Cocoa pods Venezuela.
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Cocoa pod and mucilage.
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