How Is Chocolate Made? A Closer Look

How is chocolate made?

These days, you can find chocolate just about anywhere and it is one of the most popular sweet treats in the world. But you might be surprised to know that chocolate has to go through a long and complicated process to become the typical bar that you can buy at the store. But what are the first steps?

How Is Chocolate Made? Harvesting and Opening Pods

Chocolate first begins its journey inside of the large, sinewy pods that come from trees located in Mexico, South America, and some parts of Africa and Asia. The cocoa tree is named Theobroma Cocoa and it is a tropic plant that produces very large pods. The pods may be green or yellow in color and have to be harvested by hand. Machines cannot be used for this process as they may damage the pods or the trees.

The part of the pod that you see is really a hard shell that doesn’t play any part in the process of making chocolate. Rather, the pods inside the large pod are a valuable part of the plant. The pods are ripe when they turn orange or yellow. At that point, people with machetes will cut the pods from the tree so that the tree remains unharmed. Then, the pods are cracked open and the fruit inside is revealed. You might be surprised to know that the fruit inside these cocoa pods is not brown or chocolatey but consists of white, slimy blobs.

These white blobs are actually brown in the center because that is where the seeds reside. The white part that you see on the outside is a fibrous, slimy layer that actually tastes like citrus. The brown part on the inside is hard and tastes very faintly of chocolate as well as a little bitter, but it certainly isn’t the classic chocolate flavor that you are familiar with. So, how does that seed pod become chocolate?

how is chocolate made?

Fermentation and Drying

In order to create chocolate, it will be necessary to ferment the cocoa seeds. In a hot environment, these seeds will be placed on a large tray and left out to ferment in the sun under the protection of leaves or cloth. Over a period of several days to two weeks, the seeds will start to become brown and dry. Once the seeds are done fermenting, they will continue to be left out in the sun to dry.

This drying process will take a week or so. As the beans dry, they will become lighter in weight and also become smaller. Once that’s done, the manufacturing process will finally begin.

Manufacturing Chocolate

Once the beans are dry, it is necessary to roast them. This will really start to bring out the flavors in the beans and the beans will start to smell a lot more like chocolate. This process will also remove whatever alcohol was generated during the fermentation process. During this stage, the shells of the beans will be removed and the beans themselves will be broken down into small pieces called nibs. These nibs are sorted by size and then ground up. What remains of the nibs is then heated and the heat causes the fat in the cocoa to liquefy, essentially turning the entire mix into a chocolaty liquid.

At this point, the result is chocolate liquor. To become chocolate, cocoa butter and sugar are then mixed in. If the chocolate company is making milk chocolate, then milk will be added. After a bit of refining, tempering, and measuring all the right ingredients, a beautiful chocolate product will be produced and formed into bars or other shapes.

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