The cocoa tree comes from South and Central America, where the Aztecs already exploited its medicinal characteristics; It is a small tree, with an erect, evergreen stem, with large oval, leathery leaves; throughout the year it produces small, star-shaped, white flowers, in pendulous bunches, which bloom from old wood, then onto the trunk and branches of the tree. Some large oval fruits originate from the flowers, similar to large cedars or papayas, with a wrinkled green skin, which becomes chocolate brown when ripe. The fruits, called cabossides, contain a gelatinous pulp and 30-40 large hard seeds; the harvest can take place throughout the year, even if in some periods the plants produce more fruits.
From fruit to cocoa
Cocoa is produced with theobroma seeds, which are first fermented, together with the pulp in which they are contained; the seeds, completely separated by peel and pulp, are dried in the sun and then ground; in this way the starting paste is obtained from which cocoa and cocoa butter are obtained.
From each plant some kilos of seeds are obtained, and a few kilos of cocoa; even if this production takes advantage of the fact that the trees should not be replaced until after a few decades, surely cocoa remains a precious product, since from every single plant of theobroma little finished product is obtained, also spending a few days in the fruit transformation process .
Cocoa: The properties of cocoa
Cocoa contains a good amount of polyphenols, which are used to fight free radicals; the essential active ingredient of cocoa is theobromine, an exhilarating, exciting substance, suitable for fighting mood problems, for improving concentration, for relieving menstrual pain. The Aztecs used a drink produced with cocoa to give strength, physical and mental vigor to the gods and warriors, in fact the Latin name attributed by Linnaeus to the plant means "food of the Gods".
Cocoa butter is used in the production of moisturizers.