Cocoa useful properties

The cocoa tree (lat. Theobroma cacao)

The Aztecs believed that chocolate tree gave them the God Quetzalcoatl (Quetzalcoatl) – freedom-loving half-bird of prey who created the world. Without going into

the intricacies of the Aztec Pantheon of gods, you will agree that cocoa due to the huge number of useful properties, great taste worthy of divine origin.

The region

Cocoa powder extracted from the fruit of the cacao tree (lat. Theobroma cacao), which grows only in a few places in the world. The climate for growth and fruiting cacao tree needs to be hot and humid. Cacao trees need to grow in shade and for ease of collection not to exceed a height of 4–5 metres. All of these conditions are possible only in a few countries: Brazil, Ecuador, côte d’’ivoire, Venezuela, Malaysia, Ghana, Cameroon and Indonesia. Côte d’Ivoire is a leader in the cultivation of cocoa, and its share in the world market approximately 30% of the total produced cocoa.

Growth conditions

Under natural conditions the cocoa tree can grow up to 16 meters in height, but it would be inconvenient to collect, so the height limit of 4–5 meters, planting cocoa under the palm trees, which are called “the mother of cacao ” (madres del cocoa), which creates a good shadow. Shadow and high temperature allow to appear a large number of young shoots. First flowering and fruiting occurs at 4–5 th year. Active fruiting period lasts from 10 to 35 years. During this period, collect the maximum yield of cocoa beans.

Flowering and fruiting

The flowers of the cocoa appear directly on the branches and trunk of the tree. Botanists call this phenomenon cauliflora. Ripe fruit resembles a cucumber or elongated melon, fully Matures in 4 months. The cocoa tree can bear fruit twice a year.

Ripe cocoa pods) from 30 to 15 cm and weighing about 500 grams resemble Uzbek melon. They are Burgundy, brown or yellow. In each pod is 30–40 seeds, which are dried and processed into cocoa powder.

Breeding home

Cocoa can be grown at home. To do this, the seedlings will need a lot of warmth, light and high humidity. The critical lower temperature limit for cocoa trees +16°C. the plant quickly began to bear fruit, it is necessary to provide UV and damp mode. First fruits may appear within 4–5 years. Trees require careful maintenance, spraying it with a solution of ferrous to prevent yeast viral and fungal diseases.

The history of cocoa

Cocoa is known to people for over 3000 years. Archaeological finds of vessels with traces of theobromine say that the fruit of the cocoa used in 1100 BC Large cocoa pods cut out the sweet pulp and made into an alcoholic beverage.

The Aztecs prepared from cocoa beans based drink of water, pepper, vanilla, salt, and maize. This drink was unsweetened and differed significantly from what is now considered to be cocoa. Having a strong invigorating effect and being a powerful aphrodisiac, this mixture was able to support the forces of Montezuma the Second – the last Aztec Emperor, who had 600 wives and 50 children. When in 1520 Montezuma died in the vault was discovered 25 000 quintals of cacao collected in taxes from his subjects. For comparison: at the time, one slave was worth 100 cacao beans (50 kg cocoa).

The Indians did their simple drink chocolatl similar to porridge, from roasted and ground cacao beans and maize flour with vanilla. Cocoa brewed by adding corn flour to thicken, then cooled down and ate. Sometimes the flour was added, and drank a hot drink. Indian word chocolatl has entered into all the languages of the world, and now we denoted chocolate – a hot drink of cocoa or solid dessert.

Came in 1519 in Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors, the basis of which was an impoverished old-world knights (Hidalgo Caballero), whose main objective was the rapid enrichment, destroyed the Aztec temples, destroyed the script and language and left only 2 elements of a highly developed ancient civilization: gold and cocoa. First provided them with a comfortable life in Europe, the second quite liked loving Spaniards because of special properties.

The path to Europe

Found a supply of cocoa beans Montezuma was transferred to Europe, and cocoa has gained tremendous popularity, but only after 100 years. Long European confectioners experimented with the proportions of the ingredients, added all kinds of spices, spices, nuts, sugar, milk and cream. Finally, the correct proportions were found, and the chocolate won the hearts of Europeans.

For a long time, cocoa was grown using slave labor, and the descendants of the first Spanish conquistadors were overseers, turned the idle population of South America into slaves. Last Bastion of slavery became a Portuguese colony on the group of Islands of Sao Tome and Principie, which in the early XX century used slave labor. This led to a boycott of some of the biggest European producers of chocolate that used cocoa from this region.

Until the mid-twentieth century, the work of collectors was extremely difficult. Even after the abolition of slavery, the conditions of collection and processing has not changed much, and only in the 60–70 years of XX century labor conditions close to acceptable.

Interesting facts

50 g quality dark chocolate contains as many antioxidants as in six ripe apples or 15 glasses of orange juice.

Cold cocoa – a great means of recovery of the muscles after a long sports or heavy work. By many measures, cocoa surpasses special drinks for athletes.

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