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Is Chocolate "Raw"?

Chocolate is a fermented food.

A lot of people have been asking if Garden Island Chocolate is Raw. My answer is, "there is no such thing as Raw chocolate", leads to only more questions, hence this simple blog. The white pulp that surrounds the beans in the pod is most definitely raw and a delicious refreshing treat. The beans eaten straight from the pod are raw but rather bitter and astringent, the health benefits from choking down some wet viable cacao seeds are yet to be investigated. Raw food is all food cooked below 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), as defined by Wikipedia. The fermentation process in cacao generates temperatures as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

A lot of foods are fermented, so can you eat fermented food and still be a raw foodist? That all depends on who you ask. In actuallity the cacao seeds are not fermented, its the white mucilaginous pulp that surrounds the beans that are fermented. The pulp disappears completely, leaving only the dead heated seeds. The seeds are then dried and become known as 'beans', ready for the chocolate factory. Poor fermentation can have serious consequences. If fermentation stops completely, the beans will be 'slaty' and unable to produce quality chocolate. Short fermentation prevents flavor precursors developing and bitterness and astringency reducing. Too much fermentation develops undesirable flavor characteristics, or 'off-flavors', when the beans are roasted. A pure criollo only requires a 3 day ferment reaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) for only about an hour after each days oxygenation or turning of the beans. Cacao beans can have flavor development if not fermented, but usually these beans are roasted to bring out some flavor. The unfermented, unroasted beans usually have an off sour taste that when made into chocolate are quite bad.

As for "Raw" cacao powder, the Broma process uses less heat and pressure then the hydraulic press. Cocoa liquor pressing if definitely not "Raw". The chocolate used in this process generally comes from moldy beans that are roasted at a high temperature. The liquid cocoa liquor is stored in large storage tanks where it is kept at a temperature of about 70°C to ensure that the liquor remains liquid. From there the liquor is pumped to the liquor conditioning tanks mounted on each press, where the product is ‘prepared’ to achieve optimum conditions when it is pressed into cocoa butter and cocoa cake.The liquor is heated to the required temperature in the tank, while high-speed stirring gear ensures quick heat transfer and homogenization of the product as well as reducing the viscosity. This gives the product a relatively thin-fluid consistency, and improves its flow and pressing properties. Industrial presses use as much as 6000 psi, requiring over a hundred tons of hydraulic pressure pushing on a press cylinder. "Raw" foodists should also be suspicious of dutch processed chocolate. Dutched chocolate, is chocolate that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color and give it a milder flavor. Dutched chocolate forms the basis for much of modern chocolate, and is used in ice cream, hot cocoa, and baking.The Dutch process accomplishes several things: Lowers acidity; Increases solubility; Enhances color; Lowers flavor. The Dutch process destroys flavonols (antioxidants).

In conclusion, if "Raw" chocolate tastes like chocolate, chances are it's not "Raw". Most of us eat chocolate because it taste good, it makes us feel good and satisfied so the preoccupation with "Raw" should be left to our tastes buds not a label.

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Tags: butter, cocoa, fermentation, raw

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Comment by Koa Kahili on March 21, 2011 at 11:45pm
having good chocolate that is not roasted, i would have to see and taste it to believe it.  and show me one study, one scientific study that says "raw" chocolate is better for you then roasted chocolate.
Comment by Vanessa Barg on March 21, 2011 at 2:48am
I make raw chocolate - and have visited several farms where I followed the entire trail from tree to bar. I make chocolate from raw beans that have been fermented under 118 degrees, dehyrdated under 118 degrees rather than roasted, and ground (and butter expelled) under 118 degrees! My chocolate tastes like chocolate - and yet it's raw :) http://www.RawIntegrityProject.com
Comment by Anthony Lange on November 11, 2010 at 1:36am
"the seeds don't ferment the pulp does"..... To state the obvious.... the fermentation is a means, not and end. The purpose of fermentation (as I understand it, amongst other things) is to kill the seed as one does'nt want sprouting beans. There are other chemical process that occur, naturally, but that's the primary function.
Comment by Koa Kahili on December 16, 2008 at 7:40pm
Yes, cacao bean are roasted at a high heat typically to avoid salmonella.
Comment by Donald Tyler on December 16, 2008 at 6:53pm
Is chocolate not being raw a pretty common view by the folks that actually process the pods to make the powders, liquors, butter and etc?
Comment by James Cary on November 19, 2008 at 12:54pm
Interesting. I guess if goats and rats are eating it, it's edible (famous last words? :)
Unfortunately, I don't have access to fresh pods, but I do have a couple of several month old pod rinds in the freezer. Maybe if I'm looking for a midnight high fiber snack, I'll pull one out and give it a try.
Comment by Koa Kahili on November 19, 2008 at 11:09am
That is a new one, eating the pod. I feed it to the local goats and they love it, but they will eat almost anything. If you leave the opened pods around the tree after extracting the seeds, they make excellent mulch and provide breeding grounds for midges. I have not experimented with eating the pod, the rats love the chew through it. Try some out and get back to me, who knows......
Comment by James Cary on November 19, 2008 at 2:47am
Thanks. I was just thinking about 'raw' chocolate the other day. In particular if it would be possible to cold roast it (via a 2 chamber system where some beans would be roasted and the roast vapor piped over the cold beans) and still have it be considered raw. But, as you point out after fermentation the beans are no longer really 'raw.'

Koa, can you eat the rind of the pod? If not raw, is it possible to boil/cook it and then eat it?
Comment by Clay Gordon on November 4, 2008 at 8:47am
Koa:

A great post that makes some very important distinctions about the fermentation process. We all talk about fermenting beans, but as you point out, the seeds don't ferment the pulp does. What's important is what happens to the seeds as a result of being plucked from the tree, removed from the pod, and being exposed to fermentation.

:: Clay

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