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The Science of Chocolate

Are you interested in all the nitty gritty details of cacao and chocolate - genetics, geopolitics, agronomy, taxonomy, and the like? Then this is the group to join to take a deep dive into chocolate.

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Discussion Forum

Aging Chocolate

Started by Fargo Della Harding. Last reply by Fargo Della Harding Jul 20. 2 Replies

Caffeine and theobromine in cacao

Started by ChocoFiles. Last reply by Sunita de Tourreil Jun 7. 4 Replies

Chocolate/Whiskey Question...

Started by PHLChocolate. Last reply by matt black Apr 30. 9 Replies

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Comment by xinhong liu on February 10, 2010 at 5:15am
Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for your respond for my question. After having read it twice I still think I need to read again to make sure I fully understand the science behind my curiosity so I can give a faily good answer to the poeple who asked me.

I have learnt a lot so thanks again.

With kind regards,

Xinhong
Comment by Arun Bhargava on February 10, 2010 at 2:20am
Hello Mark,
This is a beautiful explanation. Thanks for sharing the info.
Comment by Mark J Sciscenti on February 9, 2010 at 5:51pm
In answer to the question "why do cacao pods grow from the trunks and large branches...?"

I am surprised that this has not been answered yet.

Theobroma sp. is a very old species - about 1 to 3 million year old. Botanically it is considered an "inferior" species - not to be confused with

Most of the T. sp., of which there are around 25 known sps., actually do not produce fruit pods at all but propagate through suckers growing out from the main tree stem.

The Theobroma sps. that do produce fruit pods, about 5 or so including the T. cacao, the one we make chocolate from, has a very specific reason for having the fruit growing low down on the tree.

The chief pollinators of T. cacao is the midge, tiny flies of the dipteran family. These midges live in the damp leaf litter under cacao tree and their flying range is quite limited. A survival evolutionary response by T. cacao, in order to compete for pollinators within the surrounding rainforest species, was to evolve flowers that grew within the midges flying range.

The other reason T. cacao developed low growing fruit was to provide access to seed dispersal vectors, i.e. providing sweet tasty fruit for animals within easy reach. It is quite known that spider monkeys, parrots, bats and other animals will break off the cacao pods, open the husk and eat the fruit but spitting out the bitter seeds, often in a different location then the original tree. The seeds drop to the forest floor where if conditions are ripe, the seeds will germinate.

One must realize also that T. cacao does not drop it's fruit when ripe, contrary to several statements I've read. The reason for this is that if the fruit were to naturally drop off the tree when ripe, very often the fruit would be missed by animals, the husk not broken open and the seeds would rot inside the husk, thus no germination. Another plus for the fruit pods to not drop off the tree is that often animals will break open the husk while the fruit is still on the tree, eat some of the fruit then leave. This creates another possible habitat source for the midge - wet and dark.

I highly suggest reading Alan M Young's book "The Chocolate Tree, A Natural History of Cacao" 2007 (revised edition from his same book published in 1993), University Press of Florida.

Hope this answers some questions. -Mark
Comment by xinhong liu on January 23, 2010 at 4:17am
BTW,

How much different in price for different types of beans?
Comment by xinhong liu on January 23, 2010 at 4:15am
Does anyone know how to identify different type of cocoa beans?
Forastero, Criollo or Trinitario ?

If there are different types of beans in front of you will you be able to tell what each bean type is even where they come from in terms of geographical locations.

If a single origin chocolate bar is noted ' Venezuela ' should I consider it is made from Criollo beans? Why in most cases it only is labelled the location name but not the type of bean? Should a single origin term also contain type of beans apart from location name?

Some European chocolatiers only use Criollo beans for their chocolates I wonder do they realy tasted so differently from other types?

I even read about some articles saying I can tell the difference by the beans color?

Thanks in advance.

Xinhong
Comment by Nancy Nadel on January 22, 2010 at 1:35am
Sai, I read on some blog that a Fearless person wrote that they don't ferment which makes me wonder how it tastes.
Comment by Nancy Nadel on January 22, 2010 at 1:31am
To answer a question posed earlier, cocoa pods are unusual in that they grow out of trunks but they grow out of lthe larger part of branches as well. I expect it is a survival thing since they are fairly heavy and need the support of a larger branch or trunk to keep from falling to the ground before the beans would be ready able to go to seed.
Comment by Sacred Steve on January 11, 2010 at 9:30am
I think you are right.
Comment by xinhong liu on January 11, 2010 at 9:04am
Hi Steve,

If it's unregulated it might be very difficult to sell the idea to the consumers. At lest now it's not ready to use 'raw' as a marketing tool.

What do you think?

Xinhong
Comment by Sacred Steve on January 11, 2010 at 8:02am
currently, as far as I know, the word "raw" is completely unregulated in food commerce and manufacturing in the USA. Interestingly, that is not the case with the word "fresh".
 

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