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The Original Roots of Chocolate details

The Original Roots of Chocolate. The Cacao tree is very difficult to grow outside its natural setting. It thrives in the equatorial band between 20 degrees north to 20 degrees south of the Equator.

The tree also requires a minimum temperature of 60 degrees and requires year round moisture, so if there is a specific dry season it needs additional irrigation and this is why there are very few instances of it bearing fruit outside of this zone. If the growing conditions of the cacao tree are poor, it is more susceptible to the diseases that are its enemy like pod rots and witches brooms. These diseases are fungus-produced external growths and wilts. In addition, rodents such as monkeys, squirrels and rats eat the white pulp surrounding the seeds while avoiding the bitter seeds. With proper conditions the seeds will sprout in just days and bear fruit in the third or fourth year.

In most of the cacao plantations today, the plantings are done with cuttings or with seeds that are carefully raised. Cacao seeds only remain viable planting for 3 months. Understanding this, you now know why long trips to transport these seeds are out of the question. The eagerness to introduce these plants to the Old World was due to the use of Cacao beans by the Aztecs, who used these as food and money. About the size of an orange tree, the cacao tree has similar leaves that are a little wider and longer than the orange tree. However, unlike the orange tree they flower from small cushions on the trunk and larger branches like other tropical fruit trees.

Only one to three percent of the flowers on plantation trees actually bear fruit, which puzzles most of the growers today. Cacao trees are pollinated by midges (small gnats) and the trees produce very poorly in modern plantations where midges don't grow in abundance. The History of Chocolate. The word chocolate comes from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs of Mexico and is derived from the wordxocolatl a combination of the words "xocolli" which means bitter and "atl" which is water. It has been suggested that Spaniards coined the word using the Maya word "chocol" and replacing the Maya term for water which was "haa" with the Aztec word "atl," therefore the word chocolate.

It is more likely that the term was created by the Aztecs who had used the familiar Mayan word for the "cacao" bean. The first reports of chocolate to the known world were when Cortes reported a drink known as "xocolatl" to a Spanish King. An ancient Mayan pot found with chocolate residue indicates the Mayans drank chocolate about 2,600 years ago. This is the earliest record of cacao use.

The goddess of fertility "Xochiquetzal," was associated with chocolate by the Aztecs. The Aztecs drank a spicy, bitter form of chocolate called "xocatl" that was frequently seasoned with vanilla, chili pepper, and annatto. Chocolate is thought to fight fatigue because of the theobromine content, which is similar to caffeine.

Throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, chocolate was a luxury and cacao beans were used as a form of currency. Chocolate drinks were also combined and thickened with maize starch paste, honey, and different fruits. About two thirds of the cocoa in the world comes from West Africa, and half of that is produced in the Ivory Coast.

As with many food producers, cocoa farmers' prices are controlled by the world market. Prices can fluctuate widely from for $945 to $5,672 or more, a ton in short order. Cocoa farmers, unlike those who invest in trading cocoa, can't abandon their trees or reduce production as easily as investors can dump their stocks.

It has been reported that 90 cocoa butter; thereby, allowing it to form a thinner coating that is often used to chocolate coat fruits or chocolate fountains. Chocolatiers use the finished couverture chocolate to make chocolate candy bars, truffles and other desert items. The first chocolate was drunk instead of eaten and was served only to the highest nobles and clergy of the Mesoamerican age.

Both the Aztecs and Mayans created sweet and bitter drinks by mixing the ground powder with water. Chocolate liquor (smooth liquid chocolate) is blended in different quantities with cocoa butter to make different types of chocolate. The blends of ingredients showing the highest chocolate quantity first are: 1. Plain dark chocolate: Sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and sometimes vanilla 2. Milk chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or powdered milk and vanilla 3. White chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, milk or powdered milk and vanilla Notice that only white chocolate has no cocoa liquor in it.

The only ingredient that is actually from the cacao bean in white chocolate is the fat or cocoa butter which has a very distinct flavor.

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