We all love to consume chocolate because of its rich and sweet taste. These days, chocolate confections are available almost everywhere in various forms and flavors. Some countries have perfected the art of chocolate confectionery and have made a name for themselves in it, but it wasn’t always available like this and in its current forms. It is one of the oldest foods and has had quite a journey in history. Here are some little-known facts about chocolate.
Chocolate Production Is A Long Process
Chocolate comes from the beans from the Cacao fruit, and these fruit trees grow in Central and South America. Each fruit has roughly about 30-50 beans, and farmers harvest these by hand. Each seed is the size of an olive, growing in five long columns of white pulp in every fruit. The beans are then piled on the ground and covered in banana leaves for fermentation that lasts for about 2-9 days, and this is when the beans pick up their flavor. They are then dried for about a week to a fortnight under the sun, and will be shipped next to various parts of the world or directly to the chocolate makers. The beans at the production facilities are separated by places of origin and cleaned. The shells are separated and the mass of the bean is ground to make cocoa mass, which is turned into either cocoa butter or cocoa powder that will be used to make chocolate.
Difference Between A Chocolatier and A Chocolate Maker
People often get confused about the difference between a chocolate maker and a chocolatier, thinking that the two are the same thing. To make it clear, chocolate makers, as the term implies, are people or companies that make the chocolate, from the beans to the product that is ready for use. Chocolatiers, on the other hand, are those who make the chocolates that we buy and love in stores. They produce various kinds and flavors of chocolate confections. If you are intrigued about the creativity that goes into confections, you can learn more at Astor Chocolate, as there are numerous confectioneries, and every chocolatier has its signature style. Although making them seem so simple, the process is a very costly and tough endeavor that requires the right equipment and the expertise to do it correctly. Very few companies can do that, so most chocolatiers purchase chocolate from them to make their delightful products.
Once Unknown to The Western World
Chocolate has an interestingly rich history that dates back to the very old cultures in Central and South America, and at one point, western cultures were unaware of its existence. Chocolate, as we know it in its various sweet forms, did not always exist.
Pre-Columbian cultures almost always consumed it in the form of a bitter fermented drink, reserved mostly by the economic upper class and was also featured in religious and cultural ceremonies. For Mayans, it was revered and there is evidence of chocolate being consumed in important festivities, e.g. after important transactions. Mayans, however, did not restrict its consumption for the wealthy upper classes and almost all households consumed it regularly.
Chocolate was brought to Europe after Spanish conquerors first came in contact with the Aztec civilization. Even then, it was consumed mostly as a drink in the form of hot chocolate mixed with honey and sugar cane. Its solid form was not invented until the 19th century as hydraulic presses came into being, and a result of steam power, which made it possible to produce chocolate.
Cacao Beans Were An Ancient Form Of Currency
As mentioned earlier, Aztecs revered chocolate to the extent that they believed it was given to them by their gods. Not only did civilizations like Aztecs and Mayans reverently consume cacao in beverages, but they also attached currency value to cacao beans and frequently used them as money. Granted that barter systems were common and exchange of commodities was the way to commerce, the use of cacao stands out amongst other commodities in these cultures. They used the beans to buy food and other important goods, and in some cultures like the Aztecs, the beans were considered even more valuable than gold.
Chocolate is beloved the world over, but it is also becoming endangered. Making it uses a lot of beans, and it’s an astonishing fact that it takes about 900 cacao beans to produce just one kilo of chocolate – one of the reasons why finer chocolate is so expensive. Mentioned above are some facts about chocolate that you didn’t know before, and one fact is that cacao trees only grow in specific geographical regions, owing to their climate requirements, however, climate change is affecting where these trees can grow. This means cacao production can be in danger, and though scientists are trying to address this problem through genetic modification, you can still learn more ways to help it not go into extinction.