How Is Chocolate Made?
In the production of chocolate, cocoa beans, which are a product of the cacao tree, are strongly required for the producing process. However, the origin of the cacao tree is still in obscurity. Some people say it originated in Brazil, around the Amazon basin. Some say the Orinoco Valley of Venezuela is likely to be the first place in finding the tree. While some others believe that it is Central America, where the tree was found for the first time.
A cacao tree is a tropical plant which is able to thrive only in hot and rainy climate. Therefore, its crops and cultivation are able to grow in tropical areas such as South Africa, Africa and some regions in Asia. It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa with almost half of the total yield derived from the Ivory Coast.
Chocolate’s production process begins when a cacao seed is planted. The cacao tree is a very delicate and sensitive plant, protection from the wind and a fair amount of shade is strongly required in successfully growing the tree. These two requirements of planting are important especially in its first two to four years of growth. A newly planted cacao seedling must be handled with care. After five years, the cacao tree will begin to bear fruit, and if the tree has been handled with extreme care, some strains can be induced to yield good crops in the third and fourth years.
After Cocoa beans had been cultivated and shifted to a chocolate factory, the chocolate-making will finally begin. Although there is a general processing pattern which prevails everywhere but most chocolate producers have their own manufacturing methods which makes their chocolate distinctive from other chocolate manufacturers. The chocolate processing method can be briefly explained as follows.
- The first step of manufacturing is cleaning cocoa beans. This step is done by passing cocoa beans through a cleaning machine.
- When cocoa beans are thoroughly cleaned, these beans will be carefully weighed and blended according to a company’s particular specifications.
- The selected cocoa beans will be roasted in large rotary cylinders from 30 minutes to two hours at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. In this step, cocoa beans will change their color to a rich brown color and the aroma of chocolate becomes evident.
- After roasting, the beans are quickly cooled, and a giant winnowing machine called, “Cracker and Fanner”, will separate broken pieces into large and small grains while fans blow away those chocolate grains into separated buckets or bins
- These chocolate grains will be passed on to mills. In this process, chocolate grains will be liquefied to “chocolate liquor” with enough frictional heat. In this step, each chocolate manufacturer will add their own condiments, in order to make their individual chocolate recipes.
- After the “chocolate liquor” has been flavored and pasteurized, it will be poured into molds and allowed to solidify or transmuted into other types of chocolate merchandises, up to specific commercial purposes.
Here is a video from the Discovery Channel on how chocolate is made: