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Chocolate: The Historical Background Of The Cacao Plants Origin

810 words - 4 pages

The Theobroma cacao tree is native to the American tropical rainforest, originating in clumps along the riverbanks in the Amazon basin on the eastern equatorial slopes of the Andes. The plant has evolved to utilize the shade of the heavy canopy from the rainforest. It can grow up to fifteen meters, but the harvesting crops are trimmed down to six meters, so that they are easier to maintain and harvest. They trees can live for up to one hundred years, but the cultivated trees are only economically productive for sixty of those years. The trunk or Chupon is where the budding fruit and leaves are found. The leaves are a fan shape and are smooth in texture with bright green pigments. The tree ...view middle of the document...

Mechanical harvesting is not possible for these plants because the machines would damage the trees. After the pods are removed from the trees, the seeds and pulp are removed by hand. The average number of seeds per pod is fifty to sixty. The seeds are surrounded by a sugary mucilaginous substance that must be fermented off before the seeds can be processed and roasted. The fermenting process is done to enhance the flavor of the seeds because the raw seeds are bitter and tough. When the seeds are dried, which takes about a week, they are spread out and turned regularly. A standard, one hundred milligram chocolate bar contains about eighty to eighty-five seeds, and it about seventy percent natural chocolate. A milk-chocolate candy bar contains only six cacao beans and is only about ten percent natural chocolate.Some ancient civilization such as the Aztecs believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac and named it "a food of the gods." Chocolate produces a natural substance, phenyl ethylamine, which is known for stimulating the same reaction in the body as falling in love. Chocolate also contains several essential vitamins which are recommended in everyone's daily diet, such as A1, B1, B2, C, D, and E as well as...

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