What Is Inside a Chocolate Pod?
So that little white flower we saw last time? Once that gets pollinated — by some tiny midges that live in the jungle — some of them will turn into cacao pods. They’ll grow on the trunk of the tree, starting out green and turning red or orange or yellow as they mature.
The farmers harvest the pods by hand, selecting the ripe ones and cutting them off the tree. They would then cut open the pods with a machete, being careful not to cut all the way through the husk so as to not damage any of the beans. Even a small nick on the bean can affect how that bean ferments (in the next step).
On the Costa Rican farm we visited, they would cut the pods open right there and collect the seeds and pulp in bags. They left the husks on the ground as compost/fertilizer for the trees and then carried out the much-lighter material through the jungle.
So there’s the chocolate. Right?
Nope. That stuff doesn’t look, smell or taste anything like chocolate. The beans inside are horribly bitter, but the white stuff is really sweet. And that gangly thing sticking up in the middle? That’s no good at all.
In the next step, all the beans, with the pulp, are collected and prepared for fermentation. Stay tuned!