Cacao pods from tree to the mouth... eating the white gooey stuff surrounding the seeds... at Eladio Pop's
Cocoa pods start off green and turn bright yellow when they are ripe and ready to be picked. As well as growing on branches, the pods sprout from the trunk of the tree itself, which looks quite strange!
It usually takes at least 5 years for a at least 5 years cocoa tree to mature and to produce cocoa pods, but once it does, you'll get 25 years of fruit! The cocoa pods have the all-important cocoa beans inside them.
As each pod will contain 30-60 beans, and 60 beans can make about 80 grams of chocolate, and the average number of pods produced by a mature tree is over 100.
It usually takes about 6 months for a fruit or pod to be ripe. The pod is ripe when the beans are loose and the pod will rattle when shaken. When the fruit is opened, these are the parts that can be seen:
1. On the outside is the thick coat or husk. This coat may have deep grooves in it or shallow grooves. It may also have a lumpy surface with a warty appearance. It may be soft or hard and woody.
2. The large seeds or “beans” are in the centre of the pod. Each pod may have 20 to 60 seeds in it.
3. All around the seeds and between the seeds and the outside husk is a mass of white soft pulp that is sweet and delicious to the taste. You can suck on the white fiber but the raw beans will be bitter & kind of yucky. Nutrition wise they are very good - I love nibs because of the huge amount of antioxidants and minerals, vitamins in them.
You can eat the seed raw, but not more then one. Otherwise it will give you an upset stomach.
You can eat the pulp. And when you ferment, dry and roast the seed, you can eat it.
You can also make juice from the pulp!
Photographs by Marty Casado
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