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So, I have noticed a recent upsurge in "raw" chocolate products. A couple I have tried have been tasty. But I don't understand what makes raw chocolate raw. Are the beans just not roasted? And if not what is done with them. Why would leaving chocolate "raw" be advantageous? Is it healthier and why? Inquiring minds want to know....

Tags: chocolate, health, raw

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Taste is a matter of opinion. Some people are of the opininon that raw foods in general taste better than cooked foods. Most people will agree it depends on the particular food. The reason humanity started cooking food was to preserve it (destroy bacteria/molds) and effectively eat animal products. Taste could also be a reason, but originally not the primary reason.

Suggested Reading:

Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie
Conscious Eating by Dr. Gabriel Cousens
The Sunfood Diet Success System by David Wolfe
Enzyme Nutrition by Howell
Just reading Jane Goodall's Harvest for Hope. She notes that baboons and chimpanzees have been observed to "forage in the blackened ground after a brush fire has swept through. It seems that they like the taste of singed insects and certain plant foods."

Could be our ancestors long ago mastered fire for taste first, then it was learned that fewer people got sick from the cooked stuff.

But, I agree that taste is a very valid reason to consider raw vs cooked. I'll take a raw piece of tuna over a cooked one anyday (as long as it's ok to consume raw).
I forgot to mention that one of the main reasons behind the raw cacao trend, besides flavor and nutrition, is the fact that the complex and delicate chemistry that is inherent in raw cacao, is left intact for the most part. Therefore, the chemistry that is known to get us feeling "buzzed" or "high" from chocolate is even more present and thus the effects from it, more accentuated. This is something that a person in a fasting state just has to experience for him or herself, mainly because everybody's body chemistry is different, and I honestly can only speak of my own experience and the experiences of others as they have been related to me. Some of the main chemicals that are present and responsible besides theobromine of course are anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA also shows up in large quantities in blue green algae.
Check out the known list of chemistry in raw cacao...

Due to its complexity, there are also components in raw cacao that are still unknown, sort of like Royal Jelly.
Forgot to also mention that Tryptophan is present in Raw Cacao.
You must be quoting temperatures for chocolate manufacture. I own cacau farms and during fermentation processes the temperature rise during the initial 48-60 hours climbs to 51+degrees C which equates to 123+degrees F. Unless you reach these levels the bean will not fully ferment and likely result in "sprouting".
I am interested in the post harvest processes for raw chocolate beans. I plan to do tests on a fermentation batch next week and would like additional details.

1, during the normal fermentation cycle, we have recorded temperatures above 53C. I plan to install a thermocouple in the pile and sample on 30 min intervals to graph the process. When we arrive at 114 F, is the process considerd complete or are there processes that restrict the process until temperatures fall then restart the process.

2. what are the indicatiors that raw fermentation has been completed? What are cut test indicators? Is there a defined period that the beans must remain at the 114F level? Other data available to tell me when t's correctly fermented?

3. Drying processes will require incremental drying in the sun at periods of indirect sunlight. The temperatures at sun's zenith will easily exceed 114F. If we dry in early morning and late afternoob periods I will be able to avoid overheating but will require extended drying time. What is the level in % of humidity for a properly processed bean?

If you will help me define the processes and give some guidance regarding the final product characteristic, I will run the test, compile data and photos then post the results on this site.

Best regards
Jim Lucas
Hi Jim, You need to hold it at 114 F by mixing. Depends on beans, but it should be correctly fermented at about 1.2 to 1.4 times the normal fermentation time. Ultimately, you won't be able to tell until after drying in order to check aroma and taste. Moisture content should be below 5% for a properly processed bean.
Feel free to send me a sample and I will turn it into some bars for you.
Sacred Steve
Steve: Residual moisture levels in beans after drying is typically 6.5-7%. Below that and they are too fragile for shipping and further handling - they break too easily. Are you saying that because of the difference in fermentation the beans aren't as fragile at such a low moisture level because they have a different texture?
Not sure of any mechanical property differences due to difference in fermentation. The beans we are familiar with are pretty tough at low moisture levels...I think one big difference is that they are very clean and thus slippery, alleviating extra torque on the bean during storage and shipping. Also, we only ship in small amounts so that weights and pressures are not that great.

This is a reference to the fact that although small, heating can cause trans fatty acids. The longer you heat and the higher the temperature, the more trans fats will be produced.

Sorry, this article is about frying, not roasting. To quote:
" ... trans fatty acids can be "formed by the high temperatures of frying, so you may be making them yourself." High heat can cause the formation of minuscule amounts of trans fatty acids over extended lengths of time. But temperatures for traditional frying (300 to 350 degrees) and relatively short cooking times (5 to 10 minutes) would have a negligible effect on the formation of trans fat in cooking oil.

"... a recent [nb: the article was published in 2003] study conducted to determine the levels of trans fat isomers formed by heat found that in canola oil heated to 500 degrees for 30 minutes, trans fat levels were increased by only 1 percent. Traditional frying at lower temperatures for shorter lengths of time would produce significantly fewer trans fats."

If as the article states, ""Trans fatty acids don't occur naturally, except for small amounts in a few plants such as pomegranates, cabbage and peas ..." we can assume that there are no trans fats in cocoa butter - and an increase of 1% of zero is zero.
Hi Clay, You are correct in that what you say is an "assumption". Your assumption however is not totally true. Until you can supply lab reports to show me, I am not convinced. Please see this full analysis we did on one of our raw recipes. Trans Fats are present in cacao, even in the raw state, but very minimal per this analysis by Covance: . Whether the heat source is coming from conduction or radiation, I feel certain trans fats are generated dependent on a time/temperature relationship. I would say that a safe assumption in roasting cacao is that trans fats are increased by 1 percent based on the analysis done above and typical cacao roasting environments.
Sacred Steve


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