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Chocolate, Cocoa

Sterculiaceae Theobroma cacao L.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

The tree is a small, tropical evergreen, up to 25 feet, with thick, oblong-oval, entire leaves. The cacao "beans" are produced in large, angular capsules, up to a foot long and 4 inches diameter. The capsule rind is thick, hard and leathery. The capsules are borne along the trunk and main branches. The beans, or seeds, about an inch across, range from 20 to 40 per capsule, and are imbedded in an acid, fleshy pulp. After removal from the capsule, the beans are washed or fermented to remove the mucilagenous pulp. Chocolate is the sweetened or unsweetened product of the roasted and ground beans, with most of the fat retained. Cocoa of commerce is the finely ground product, with most of the fat removed. Both forms are very widely used in confections, ice cream, cookery, and drinks. Cacao is not grown in continental U.S. Over 600 million pounds of the beans are imported annually, mainly from Africa and South America.

Last update February 18, 1999 by ch