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The cocoa plant comes from South and Central America, where the Aztecs already exploited their medicinal properties; It is a small tree, with an erect, evergreen trunk, with large oval, leathery leaves; throughout the year it produces small star-shaped flowers, white, in hanging bunches, which bloom from old wood, then on the trunk and on the branches of the tree. From the flowers originate some large oval fruits, similar to large cedars or papayas, with a wrinkled green skin, which becomes a chocolate color when ripe. The fruits, called cabossidi, contain a gelatinous pulp and 30-40 large hard seeds; the harvest can take place throughout the year, although in some periods the plants produce more fruit.
From the fruit to cocoa
Cocoa is produced with theobroma seeds, which are first fermented, together with the pulp in which they are contained; the seeds, completely separated from peel and pulp, are dried in the sun and then ground; in this way we obtain the starting pasta from which we obtain cocoa and cocoa butter.
From each plant you get some pounds of seeds, and a few pounds of cocoa; even if this production takes advantage of the fact that the trees should not be replaced until a few decades later, surely cocoa remains a precious product, since little or no finished product is obtained from every single theobroma plant, also taking a few days into the fruit transformation process .
Cocoa: The properties of cocoa
Cocoa contains a good amount of polyphenols, which are used to fight free radicals; the essential active ingredient of cocoa is theobromine, an exhilarating, exciting substance, suitable for fighting mood problems, for improving concentration, for alleviating menstrual pain. The Aztecs used a drink made with cocoa to give strength, physical and mental vigor to the gods and warriors, in fact the Latin name attributed by Linnaeus to the plant means "food of the Gods".
Cocoa butter is used in the production of moisturizers.