What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is the most crucial process during the preparation of cocoa beans after harvesting. This mostly goes unnoticed by mostly the public and the farmers themselves. It is critically important to ferment the cocoa beans to get a rich product.
Many cocoa producers perform the cocoa beans fermentation process only because the market requires them not without understanding the importance of cocoa beans fermentation process. This is because of the high market mass companies that purchase the cocoa beans without regard if the cocoa beans are fermented or even fermented to the right degree.
The Cocoa Beans Fermentation Process:
1. The cocoa beans are picked from the farm and carefully removed from their cocoa pods that hold about 40 cocoa beans. Farmers who are careful will rap the cocoa pod on a rock or a tree and the pod will easily break this ensures that the beans are not injured.
2. The beans are then removed from the cocoa pods are collected and put in a cocoa fermenting boxes or the sweatbox, which are located at the plantation. It is important to do this quickly since the beans begin to germinate as soon as they are removed from the pods.
3. As fermentation begins immediately, the beans are exposed to air. The spores from naturally yeast begin to settle on the sugary beans and start to split the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The alcohol is split further into acetic acid by the same bacteria responsible for turning wine into vinegar.
4. Largest cocoa producers must separate the acetic acid that is generated from cocoa fermentation.
5. Fermentation process occurs on both out and in the bean. During the process, the temperatures can be as high as 122F (48 C).
6. On the second day the temperatures reach (43 C) causing the cocoa germ to die, important chemicals changes occur as the enzymes are released.
7. The beans are always rotated within the sweatboxes so as they get just enough oxygen not too much and not to less. This is normally done by transferring the beans from one sweatbox to another.
Consistency is the key no matter the process used to ferment.. While this task may seem easy, in fact it is very difficult. The largest cocoa producers deal with literally tons of cocoa beans production, and that makes stirring, fermenting, and processing consistently very difficult. Well-fermented cocoa beans are a prize for cocoa production companies.