Where chocolate comes from...

Step 1: The Tree

The cocoa tree is a special tree that instead of needing sun, hides in the shade. It has very delicate flowers that could come off in the rain or with the wind.
Cocoa tree

Step 2: The Fruit

If the flowers survive they become small green (or sometimes red) oval fruits that will later become yellow and - if it was red - Orange.
Cocoa fruit

Cocoa fruit

Step 3: The Seeds

In the fully grown fruit there are seeds surrounded by white pulp. Originally, they used to only eat the pulp as candy, because it tastes really sweet, and throw out the seeds. Eventually the seeds were used to make a black, bitter drink called Cacaoatl.

Step 4: Fermentation

So that the seeds don't germinate again (if they do, the chocolate would taste like potatoes) you have to put them in a wooden box covered by a burlap sac. The bacteria eats the pulp then kills the seed, this is called fermentation.
Fermenting cocoa seeds

Step 5: Drying

After that you have to put the seeds in another box that is under a metal sheet which is hot from the sun. This process makes them dry.
Drying cocoa seeds

Step 6: Crushing

Once they are dry you put them in a big bowl (mortar) and crush them with a big wooden pestle.
Boy crushing cocoa seeds

Step 7: Separation

This detaches the inside - called nibs - from the shell, but they are still together. The shell is lighter than the inside, so to separate the two, you place the shells and the insides in a bowl and while pouring them into another bowl blow the parts in mid-air and the shells will fly out.
Bowl with cocoa nibs

Step 8: The Grinding

Traditionally, to turn the cocoa into chocolate you would take the cocoa, put it on a long flat rock, add sugar and then crush the two with a hot stone rolling pin. This would take up to 2 hours. Nowadays, people use something that resembles a meat grinder.
Stone cocoa grinder

Step 9: The Melting

Once the sugar and the cocoa are mixed and crushed you have to melt them in a double boiler.

Step 10: The Eating

(most important step)

Once it is melted you can either eat the liquid chocolate or mould it and refrigerate it until it becomes solid.

Ethical note

In order to make sure that the people who harvested the cocoa and made the chocolate were treated and paid fairly and that child labour was not used always look for the "Fair Trade" logo when buying chocolate.

Sebastien

Sebastien is currently 11 years old. A lover of music, animals and dance, he aspires to be a famous movie actor. During the day you can just as easily find him buried in a book or seeking adventure.

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