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Fermentation represents one of the most demanding phases of bean to bar. There are many factors that require one's attention but the major items are:
1. The pod must be fully ripened before harvesting
2. The harvested pods should be rested 72+ hours before opening. The pods should be collected and placed in a pile to allow them to dehydrate and concentrate the natural sugars. Take great care to prevent any cuts or punctures of the outer cover during the 1st two steps. Any puncture will allow the entry of oxygen and premature uncontrolled fermentation will occur (BAD)
3. Once you complete steps 1 & 2 open the pods and collect only the healthy beans. Discard any diseased or discolored material. As soon as the beans are collected, move them to your fermentation vat. (One that is perforated in the bottom and sides to allow the (lsweatings (iquids) to drain.
4. Cover the fermentation box with jute or cotton material to retain fermentation heat and leave the beans to remain in this position for the first 48 hours. This is an anaerobic phase and will develop a distinctive smell of alcohol. The temperatures will remain in the 32-38 degree C range.
5. After step 4, remove the beans from the fermentation box and thoroughly mix them. This will start the aerobic phase and will begin to develop an acetic smell and temperatures will begin to climb to 45-48 degree C. Cover the beans again and repeat this step for the next 3 days.
6. In the 6th day, you will have to begin longitudinally cutting the beans with a knife to determine that fermentation is complete. You should not have to leave the fermentation heap more than 7 days. Over fermentation will produce a bad smelling mass and result in poor chocolate qualities.
An additional note relates to the size of the fermentation mass....anything under 40-50kgs of beans will likely have a difficult time developing the required temperature required to kill the bean and render it fully fermented. Remove the fermented beans and place them in the sun with a maximum thickness of 5cm. Turn the drying beans 2 times each day until the moisture content reaches 7-8%.
There are many publications that discuss use of enzymes and other additives to promote fermentation but I ferment 75+ tons of beans per year and have not required anything other than rigid control of the fermentation process.
Good luck and let me know how your exercise turns out.
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