Yes, we actually made chocolate from tree to table! Once our cacao fruit was ripe, the process to turn it into chocolate involved a few steps. First, the easy part was cutting the fruit open to taste the pulp and separate the seeds. Next, fermenting a small batch was a little more tricky. We wrapped the cacao seeds in banana leaves and stuffed it into a small mason jar, stirring daily for about one week. According to our research, somehow banana leaves supposedly help fermentation.
Although we were unsure if the fermentation actually worked, we moved on to the final stage of roasting anyway. One hour in the oven at 275 degrees did the trick. This was the exciting part because the house started smelling like nutty chocolate. Above are the first cacao fruits that we experimented with, and the three images below show the whole roasted cacao seed, the inedible outer shell that we removed and the finished cacao nibs. Can’t wait to perfect the process with our next batch!