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So far I can surmise or suspect that only Big Tree Farms may be producing chocolate that is truly raw.  Since there are currently no industry standards in place, what is the best way to be assured that you are buying truly raw cacao nibs, butter or powder?  I would like to market my confections online but I want to be sure it is truly a raw product I am offering.  Raw in this sense does not refer to raw materials, but to the fact that the cacao was never heated above 40 to 45 C at any time during any part of the harvest and processing.  Any other raw chocolate friends here?

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Comment by Ernesto Bugarin Pantua Jr. on February 25, 2012 at 4:09am

Yes we have cacao beans that are raw dried using the sun only.  Would you be interested to buy?

We are in Southern Philippines.

Comment by Paul John Kearins on February 23, 2012 at 2:19pm

I get the request for RAW is a growing one, but as brian says the temperatures at fermentation can get pretty intense... and THAT'S a natural process. ...... i think in that respect it can never be classes truly RAW.

I ferment and dry my beans ( check out my photos from earlier) then slow roast at low temperatures, i eat the fermented dry beans , and trust me , it's NOT chocolate heaven.

Comment by Brad Churchill on February 18, 2012 at 7:50pm

As someone who actively posts online, follows industry information, and has been making chocolate now for several years, I'm incessantly curious why people would really want "raw" chocolate for any reason. 

 

It tastes like crap (vinegary and musty), and is still mostly fat and sugar.  Even if the beans are fermented, they don't really taste like chocolate until they are roasted.  In fact for the most part they are acidic and nasty tasting before they are roasted.  If one wishes to extoll the virtues of the "anti-oxidant" benefit of raw chocolate, one should also consider the fact that even raw cocoa beans are 50% FAT, and that's before sugar is added to cut the acidic, bitter nature of the unroasted beans.

 

Sigh.... I guess there's people out there who like to cause suffering to themselves in the name of healthy eating, and try in a very feable way to justify eating chocolate beause it's "raw" and "healthy".  Personally, I'll eat a great salad, some grilled chicken and a fruit salad, and then afterward enjoy my fat and sugar suspended in a nicely ground paste made of ground roasted cocoa beans.

Comment by brian horsley on February 16, 2012 at 8:44pm

i do post-harvest processing for a living and can tell you that i doubt any beans make it through fermentation and sun-drying at less than 45C, definitely not at 40C.  good thorough fermentation typically takes place at 46 to 52C.  it may be possible to control it to maintain it below a certain temp, i have heard a few people claim it but never seen it. i think i could do it although i have no reason to.

the problem is drying.  the beans are dried in the sun or in an electric/gas/fire dryer, typically a slowly rotating drum.  gas and fire dryers can impart bad flavors to the beans and should be avoided.  electric is expensive and i don't know of any operations using it. but i suppose with a drum dryer you could set the temp low and do it that way.  in the sun in the tropics, particularly over concrete which is what most operations use, the afternoon temp is well over 50C anywhere from 50CM to 2M above the concrete pad, and much higher right on top of it, as high as 60C,  particularly if the beans are placed over a black poly weave fabric as they frequently are.  if you tried somehow to maintain a lower drying temp, through shading, maybe a 20% rashel mesh say, you would risk slowing down the drying, which creates 2 problems - mold and uneconomically long dry times.

the only way to be sure about this in my opinion would be to go there and audit it yourself with a good thermometer, and create a good trusting relationship with the supplier.  but without special measures that the supplier should be able to detail for you, i wouldn't believe it.

brian

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