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Cocoa - chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao), family tree sterkulievyh (Sterculiaceae) of tropical America, giving the raw material for the production of chocolate and drink cocoa. Chocolate is produced by grinding blanched and roasted seeds (cocoa beans). Cocoa powder - very low fat chocolate. The word "cocoa" - Spanish (cacao); it is a dialect of the Aztec Nahuatl language, which cacahuatl means "seed."

Ripe fruit of the cocoa in large deciduous trees in tropical America.

Chocolate - a valuable food, consumed as a solid, and in the form of a drink, it contains most of the necessary human nutrients. In the roasted cocoa beans about 50% fat, 20-25% carbohydrates, 15-20% protein, 1.5% theobromine, 5% water, 3.5% ash elements (including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and sodium ), and a little brownish-red pigment. Theobromine - an alkaloid with stimulant, similar to caffeine and theophylline.

Botanical aspects. Cocoa - a large tree that grows in the wild on the coast of Mexico, Central and South America. Reaches a height of 12 m, but in the culture by cutting height is retained within 4,5-7,6 m thin leaves, evergreen, glossy, oblong-elliptical, up to 30 cm flowers are very small, pinkish-white, with a mean waxy, inconspicuous. Formed in an unusual way - on the surface of the trunk and larger branches. The fruit length 20-38 cm, resembles a large cucumber or melon elongated pubescent; fully matures in four months. Leathery-looking, partially woody shell as maturing color changes: in one variety - red to carmine, then crimson, orange or reddish-brown, the other - from green to yellow. The fruit contains 20-50 almond seeds (cocoa beans), immersed in a sticky liquid that hardens in the air to whitish pulp. Each seed is surrounded by a parchment skin oily with two blades.

Historical aspect. Cocoa beans, open the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and Peru, were first used not only for food and beverage, but also as money. In the U.S., chocolate producers first got them from the fishermen of Gloucester (Massachusetts) who took their charge for goods imported by an exchange to South America. 130 years after the appearance of cocoa beans in Spain, the first European country where were drinking chocolate, they were brought to England in 1657 with the presentation of a new drink in London. Thus, chocolate got there about the same time, when the tea and coffee, but gained popularity only after how he learned to add vanilla. Treat this drink has become a tradition of many people as an expression of hospitality and attention. Spaniards reported that the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank from gold cups only ceremonial chocolate.

Agronomic aspects. Of the nine species of the genus Theobroma widely bred only T. cacao and its variants. These plants are very sensitive to drought, frost and wind, they need fertile, well-drained soil at a height of 750 m above sea level. Seeds are sown in four or five rows into the hole with a width of 4.5 m aisles are sometimes sprouted in bamboo tubes or baskets made of palm leaves, and then transplanted to the plantation. Shoots first 2-4 years developed under the canopy of bananas, breadfruit, mango or gevey. Up to the fifth year the buds are removed. The plant has matured to the eighth year of life, and gives the maximum yield of 10-12 years. Fruits are formed within 30-80 years. Each year, there are two peaks of fruiting, but flowers and fruits can grow on the tree in any season.

Products. There are three main types of cocoa, although on most plantations are grown mixtures thereof. Most fragrant - "Criollo", "Creole, the native" in Spanish, bred in large numbers in the area from Venezuela to Nicaragua. More than 80% of the world crop yield three subtypes "Forastero" (in translation - "foreign"). Lowest quality in "Calabacillo" - the name means "tykvochka" and reflects the shape of the fruit. The main exporters of cocoa - Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Brazil and Cameroon.

Harvesting and processing. Harvested fully mature fruit: only they can get a high quality chocolate. Experienced builders cut their trunks with a machete, and the branches of the crown - knives on long poles. The fruits are collected in a basket, bring to a clearing, dump heaps on the ground with a long knife and cut into two or four slices: high-class experts have time to open up to 500 fruits per hour. Cocoa beans are separated from the pulp, either manually or in South America, with "Muckraking" from cow ribs. They are then laid out on pallets, banana leaves, or in a closed box for fermentation for two to nine days under its own enzymes and wild yeast. Then the cocoa beans are dried in the sun - on mats or concrete floors, and then sorted and packaged.

Processing begins with cleaning, roasting, obrushivaniya, mixing and grinding. To frying went evenly, it is done in rotating drums. At the same parchment seed coat swells and bursts: now it is easy to detach and can be used as organic fertilizer or mulch. Fragile roasted cocoa beans are crushed in a special machine that filters out fragments of the skin at the same time and sort of cocoa crumb particle size by passing it through a few screens. Fried crushed between the millstones grind, trailing a thick mass, which solidifies on cooling and a dark chocolate. Sweet chocolate produced by mixing the product with sugar and vanilla; addition of milk powder gives chocolate milk. In all cases, to obtain a liquid to a hot chocolate used, for example, the manufacture of confectionery and chocolate-coated, require the addition to raw cocoa butter. Solid chocolate bars were produced, pouring the liquid into molds. Cocoa powder is hydraulic pressing of chocolate, it is removed from the oil. In its raw chocolate 54%, cocoa powder - from 22 to 10%. To prepare the drink is usually added to the powder sugar and milk powder. "Dutch" cocoa is made from cocoa powder, treated with alkali. An important by-product of the manufacture of chocolate - cocoa butter, which is widely used in pharmaceutical preparations: it does not go rancid and is easily digested.

Fruit of the cocoa tree is cut with a machete or knife on a long pole, put in a basket and bring to a clearing, where piles dumped on the ground. Then reveal the fruits and manually extracted from the seeds (cocoa beans).