Monday, April 26, 2010

Chocolate Factory in Mindo

We went on a chocolate factory tour. First the cacoa beans are put out to ferment for 6 days. If they are out for 5 days they aren\t nearly as good. If they are out for 7 days they are completely ruined. Then they go out in a green house to dry. They take 7-21 days to dry in the green house. Then they are roasted. They take 35 minutes to roast. If you don\t roast them for long enough, they have a taste like wine from fermenting. If you roast them for too long they get burned. You can smell them burning, but by then they are ruined. Then they are put through a Champion fruit juicer. Bigger companies have a special machine, but the fruit juicer works well. It crunches the cacoa beans around and removes the shells. Then they are dropped in front of a fan. The beans fall into a bowl and the shells get blown away. The beans have to go in front of the fan 4 times to get enough shells out. Then they go through the juicer again. This time the beans get powdered and fall through where the juice would go. After a few minutes the motor has heated up, and the cacoa powder comes out as a paste. It is pure cocoa and very bitter. Then some of it goes into a grinder which has 2 stone wheels close to each other. The grinding from the wheels melts the chocolate so it flows through. The grinding also makes it smooth. It stays in the grinder for 2-3 days. The rest of the paste goes into a press. The paste goes into a cylinder with a filter on the bottom. It is pressed down with a car jack and blow torched so it stays melted (again bigger companies have a special machine for these functions).  Under pressure, cocoa butter goes through the filter but the cacoa paste doesn't. The cocoa butter lookes like real butter, and is added to the chocolate in the grinder so it will set well when it cools. The pure chocolate left in the press is ground for hot chocolate. White chocolate is made from the cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is also used in lotion.

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