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Chocolate And The Cacao Plant Essay

1371 words - 5 pages

A History of chocolateChocolate is a key symbol of our generation and has influenced the world in many ways, but during its existence it has undergone a great number of transformations to become the chocolate that we know and love today.Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao plant. Originating from Central America, the Aztecs and the Mayans mixed the ground seeds of the cacao plant with various other herbs and spices to produce a spicy, frothy chocolate drink. The drink, associated with the goddess of fertility, Xochiquetzal, was a commonly consumed by the upper class Aztecs and Mayans, it was said that Montezuma drank the Cacao drink more than 50 times a day. The lower classes used the cacao beans as a form of currency, trading the beans for objects of value.With the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Mayan cultures, came the introduction of the cacao plant to the rest of the world. At first, the early European explorers though the drink too bitter, but saw the potential of this new beverage. They exported the chocolate drink to Europe and once sweetened with ingredients such as Sugar or milk it became very popular with wealthy Europeans. At first, only the upper class could afford the drink, due to the cost of exporting the ingredients, but because of its popularity, people started to grow the plant in Europe. This allowed more of the general population to experience this new drink and it was introduced to more and more countries.The Drinking chocolate kept becoming increasingly cheaper and popular with the advancement of technology. Inventions such as the steam engine made it possible to automate the grinding process and improved the quality of the ground powder. In the 19th Century the first solid chocolate was manufactured and subsequently sold all over Europe.Drinking chocolate continued to be popular and developments in the manufacturing process made the drink smoother and creamier. The processes involved in making this solid chocolate were refined until it finally evolved into the modern day, Multi-Billion dollar industry known as chocolate.How chocolate is madeThe Cacao plantThe Cacao plant’s seeds are what we make chocolate out of. The plant Native to Central America bears fruit to multiple pods which each contain from 20-60 seeds. The plant ranges from 5 to 8 metres tall and is an evergreen tree, meaning it has leaves all year round.HarvestingThe Cacao Plant is grown in mass and then the seeds are harvested from the pods. This step must be completed by hand; this process is very labour intensive, long and difficult.Once a pod is ripe, they are cut down without damaging the bark of the cacao plant. After the pods are all the gathered they are opened up using a knife and the seeds are taken out, ready for the next process.FermentationOnce harvested, the seeds are taken from their pods, and then they are covered up and left to ferment for a few days - a process which activates the enzymes within the seed and gives it their...

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