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Roasting Cocoa Beans

Started this discussion. Last reply by Clay Gordon Nov 14, 2008. 4 Replies


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Bette replied to Brendan's discussion Chocolate Technique: What would you like to learn more about?
"I didn't see a discussion of 'conching' mentioned anywhere. That still is a bit of a mystery to me. Also, how would you handle blending chocolate to dip biscotti in?"
Sep 30, 2009

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Dark, Milk, White?
Most memorable chocolate experience:
We were a family of 5 piled into our early VW Beetle in the late 1950's on our way to the beach in N CA. My Mom insisted on stopping at the store and came back to the car with a bar of what looked like Hershy's Chocolate. I thought in my little child's brain: 'How nice it was that Mom insisted we get some chocolate for our outing.' It was, in fact, cocoa butter to 'protect' our skin. Little did we know back then that were were buttering ourselves up to burn. I was very dissappointed when I learned we wern't getting chocolate.
My favorite chocolate is:
70% or higher

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At 3:28pm on January 10, 2009, Clay Gordon said…
To add to Jim's comments:

It is possible to import pods into the US but the only businesses I have seen do it are florists specializing in tropical plants and they tend to bring pods in on a special-order basis in small quantities. Ironically, it is necessary to "import" pods from Hawaii - they need to pass Ag inspection. There is no domestic cocoa industry to protect and it's hard to know what organisms are on the outside of pods that might be dangerous to other plants so it's hard to understand what the issue is. Nonetheless, it's non-trivial.

It would not be possible to import wet beans (i.e., beans removed from their pods) as there would be no way to control fermentation during shipping so by the time they arrived they'd be ruined. I suppose you could keep them them very cold but no-one I know has done any research on the effects of trying to inhibit the onset of fermentation through refrigeration. Even if it were feasible it would probably be hugely expensive and therefore not economically viable.

Apart from the waste factor (40-60 grams of dry beans from 1200-2000 grams of total pod weight) associated with transporting pods from, say India to the US, the far more pressing issue is that doing so is not sustainable. In many cacao operations the pod is left in the farm as mulch and fertilizer. If the whole pod is transported out of the farm the nutrients in the pods must be replaced. Often that replacement is expensive and potentially toxic.

:: Clay
At 3:41am on January 10, 2009, Jim said…
I'm a medium sized cacau farmer in Brazil and would like to comment on the exchange between you and Raj.

Fermentation of beans represent one of the most critical phases of the entire chocolate process. Once the ripe pod is collected and opened, I know of no process that will inhibit fermentation. It is doubtful that you could import "wet cacau" to the USA with any degree of satisfaction. Ripe pods would have to be flown in and processed within 4-6 days after collection. The usable dry bean content of the pod usually has a weight of 40-60 grams. The portion of the pod that discards during process represents 1200-2000 grams. With this proportion of waste, the transportation costs would be unbearable. In addition, I seriously doubt that the natural state pods would easily get the approval of USDA.

In addition, fermentation is a very complex process that involves fairly large masses of beans, pile temperature and Ph monitoring and +- 7 days of attention. Unless you are specifically interested in having the fully fermented beans, fully dried to 7% humidity or less and dedicate your talents to the chocolate making adventure.

Best regards
Jim Lucas

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