Chocolates don’t make you fat!

Well, maybe they do, but who really cares considering how great it tastes? This post is about the cacao tree. In the future we’ll show you how chocolate is made. Below a picture of one of our existing cacao trees bearing fruit.

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Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. We’re not making chocolate yet, we’re propagating this tree into a thousand trees. The trees flower twice per year if the conditions are right. The flowers are really small and they grow directly from the trunk and the branches of the tree. They are pollinated by tiny flies, which only live in and close to forested areas.

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After pollination the fruits grow from very tiny to about 20 cm in more or less six months. On the picture below the fruits are almost ripe. When they are ripe they change color, to yellow, orange or red, or a combination of these colors.

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When we pick the fruits, we take out the cacao beans, wash the white pulp of and put them in plastic bags with wet paper right away. If we would delay washing them the germination rate starts to go down pretty fast.

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Below a closeup of a fruit cut open. The white pulp around the beans is edible, it tastes a bit like vanilla, but more acid.

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The beans are connected to the tree by some type of umbilical cord.

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After about 4 or 5 days in the bag they germinate.

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This is how they look about 2 weeks after being planted.

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Last year we prepared a lot of little trees to plant out in the field in November and December. But because we had way too little rain most of them were replanted in bigger bags instead. A lot of the small trees that were planted on the land dried out and died. At least we have these 150 trees still alive to plant out in September when our rainy season starts. (Btw on the left you can see some small coffee bushes who are also waiting to be planted out.)

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In 2014 we planted a few little trees to see how they would do. The tree on this picture below is about one year old.

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The same tree a few weeks ago, now about 2 years old. It stands between two other cacaos that were planted a year ago. Cacao trees don’t grow very fast and it takes between 3 and 5 years before they fruit. At least we know now they can survive our climate and do well.

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