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Cold Pressed Cacao 101

Cacao comes in various varieties. The 2 most predominant groups are CCN51 which takes up 70% of the entire Cacao production and Aromatic Cacao which makes up the rest of the 30%. Of the Aromatic Cacao group, the most predominant variety is Criollo.  
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CCN51 Criollo
Notice how much larger it is. Much smaller but much more aromatic and tasty!
The fruit itself is similar to eating a soursop with the texture of a durian. Criollo tastes much stronger and sweeter than CCN51. The best way to open up Cacao is by using 2 rocks to smash open the fruit so none of the seeds are damaged by cutting. However, in Peru I’ve only seen machetes used. So if beans are sold, its normal to find 10% of the bag unusable. IMG_6187
This is how large a Criollo pod is next to a 100gm bag of Cacao.
Now that you’ve seen the fruit and understand the harvesting process, the next step is to ferment the seeds.  
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These are wooden casks. a batch of Cacao fruit would be left in the first wooden cask. After 2 days it gets dug out and thrown into the next cask. This process repeats for the first 5 casks. For casks 6-8, the fruit sits for 3 days each.
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The picture on the left is day 1, the picture on the right is day 4. Notice how big a difference there is. Because of the sweetness of the fruit, a lot of bees were hovering around it and on the sacks covering the cacao seeds. By the end of the 8th cask drying, the seeds would have shrunk in size from losing all that moisture. Then it is ready to be laid out to dry for another 2 days in the open under a semi opaque canopy. This prevents direct sunlight from raising the acidity of the Cacao seeds. In other parts of the world, they let it dry in the sun and the Cacao has a different taste as a result from the acidity. IMG_6178   IMG_6179   IMG_6180
The whole process from fruit to dried seed takes 21 days approximately. After that it is sent to either packaging or further processing into powder, nibs or paste.
This is written by our Farm Partner who overseas the operation in Peru.

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