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Cacao pods are the raw product used to make chocolate and cocoa in their many forms. The Cacao beans are found within pods that grow directly out of the trunk of the Cacao tree. The bark of the tree is smooth and brownish-gray with leaves that are dark green and about the size of an outstretched human hand. The fruit, or pod, is oblong, between 4 and 12 inches long, ranging in color from yellow to orange to purple. Pods will contain 20-40 seeds which sit within a juicy, sweet-sour pulp. When ripe, the seeds rattle within the fruit when shaken. It takes 7-14 pods to produce one pound of beans. The flavor of the beans depends on variety as well as growing conditions such as soil temperature, sunshine, and rainfall.
When the Cacao pods are ripe, they are cut open and the beans are allowed to ferment in order to be more easily separated from the shells. They are prepared for commerce by drying in the sun. Cocoa is the product of Cacao seeds being dried, roasted and ground into a powder. Cocoa is used in a myriad of culinary applications such as baking, chocolate bars, drinks, and other familiar dishes. It also has emollient properties and is used as an ingredient in cosmetics
Cacao pods and seeds should be kept in a cool, dry place.
Making Chocolate Out of Cacao Pods
2-5 cacao pods