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Dec 11

A handful of magic beans

Ah! We had gorgeous weather today – finally some weekend sunshine. I got up early and decided today I would do things. A half-built trellis has been taunting me for weeks and so today I thought I would finally put it in its place (up on a wall). I set to work and everything was going fine until I realised that I needed a thicker drill bit. This trellis has been an ongoing saga for so long now that it seemed only natural that there would be another hurdle. I wandered off into Catete (an nearby neighbourhood) on a long-shot mission to find a shop selling drill bits open on a Sunday.


I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear that after an hour and a half of wandering I found my drill bit in one of those shops that sells a bit of everything. I was delighted and probably overreacted a little – no one should be that excited about finding an 8mm masonry drill bit…


On my triumphant way home I stopped in on the Glória street market and picked up a few things. One item I really didn’t need but couldn’t resist was this:

 

Cacau – where chocolate comes from.


I go to the market quite regularly but haven’t seen them selling cacau before. Maybe it’s something new someone is trying or more likely they’ve just come into season. Anyway, I couldn’t resist it – I’ve had the juice before, but never actually got my hands on the actual fruit. 


I don’t know if you’ve seen those ‘unboxing’ videos that people do on youtube, but I thought perhaps one or two of you might be interested to see inside the cacão fruit, so decided to do a little exposition of my own. I’m too shy to do a video, so I took a few photos instead.


As you can see here, the fruit contains dark seeds surrounded by squidgy, white pulp. The pulp doesn’t taste anything like chocolate – I would describe the taste as sweet, tangy and lemony; a bit like sherbet.


I was interested to have a look at the inner seeds, as these are what go on to become cocoa and then chocolate. I peeled a thin outer skin off to reveal these rather weird looking brown pellets:

I’ll be honest with you, if I found a couple of these on the floor under my fridge I’d think we had a rodent problem.

Well, they are the right colour for chocolate right? My mind started painting pictures of me making my own tiny bar of chocolate. How cool would that be?! Well, I jumped onto the internet to see how it’s done and do you know what? It looks like a massive hassle. Roast the beans for just the right amount of time (also, I don’t think I should have peeled them until after roasting), then de-husk and grind. Next mix them with milk, cocoa butter (where do I get that from?) and lecithin (Lecithin? I don’t even know what that is…) and mix for between 12 hours and 2 days. 


So I’ve decided to leave chocolate making to the professionals. Still, I found it interesting to take a look inside the cacau fruit. And if you ever get the chance, I recommend trying cacau juice – it’s yummy. 

I went off to market and came back with a handful of beans. Lucky I didn’t take the family cow with me…

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