Cacao thrives in Tropical Climates 20 degrees North and South of the Equator. Raw Chocolate is mainly sourced from Ecuador, Peru and Bali where it is fairly traded and ethically produced.
The cacao starts as a seed and most cacao trees begin to bear fruit by their fifth year. A cacao tree reaches peek production in approximately 10 years and will continue producing pods at a high level for an additional 12-13 years. It is not uncommon to find trees 30-40 years old, still producing pods.
Thousands of tiny, waxy pink or white five-pedaled blossoms cluster together on the trunk and older branches. But only 3% to 10 % of these blossoms will mature into full fruit. The fruit grows on the trunk and main branches and are shaped like an elongated melon tapered at both ends, these pods ripen to a golden or sometimes scarlet hue with multicolored flecks.
Once the fruits are ready to be harvested they are collected. The beans are then scooped out and removed from the flesh. The moist beans are then laid on clean, hot roofs and raked over throughout the days to assure even drying. The “nibs” hidden in the beans are then collected. The next processing stage is to make cacao liquor. In order to do this, the nibs are cold pressed (for raw production) into a liquid which then hardens into a smooth paste.
Many people say that eating dark chocolate is good for you because it contains a lot of antioxidants. But, the less processed, often bitter tasting raw cacao is even better for you.
Raw cacao can help decrease oxidation of the “bad” cholesterol in our bodies, which helps lower our risk for heart disease. Studies show that the components in cacao may help prevent cancer as well. Check out this infographic to learn more about raw cacao. And then, go make some Raw Avocado Cacao Mousse, Raw Cacao Truffles, or maybe some Raw Cacao Milk.