After we discuss the problem of the cacao farmers earlier in "Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 2", let us continue with the delicate steps of nursing the cacao trees.
Cacao trees from Chumporn province have grown in Nan are quite strong and well-nurtured. They originated from the good seed and adjusted themselves well in any type of topography, especially in the highland under hot sunshine in Utharadit province, where is surrounded by mountains and a humid climate. Clay or sandy soils are suitable for the trees. They usually survive in the 2-week period of flooding in Chumporn’s original farm.
"These cacao trees are grown fast and easy to nurse without having to use harmful chemical. A gentle reminder… if we put harmful chemicals, they will also contaminate the cacao pod. Although these cacao are processed in many steps before they are turned into a chocolate bar or cacao powder, yet all the chemicals cannot be completely eliminated.”
The major difficulty of growing cacao trees is caused by the aphid, especially the flour moths; the cacao trees at our shop inevitably face this problem. Those moths come from other trees via the atmosphere. The natural solution is to spray the coffee solution on the cacao trees. Luckily, we happen to know the professional like Master "A" who nurses cacao trees like his sons; this confirms us that the cacao we are going to use in the near future is far away from pesticides and other harmful threats.
As Master "A" mentioned all along we had a conversation, the healthy breed will yield a great deal of pods. The four-or-five-month-old sapling will give us the first batch of cacao pods within only 1-2 years. However, the first batch may not yield the big pods. Since the cacao tree is the perennial plant, it requires good care and is able to be harvested for 50-60 years. The older it is, the more and bigger pods it produces. We want the big ones which contain a lot of seeds in each cacao pod. The flesh of cocoa is rarely used; we merely use it as an ingredient in a farm’s natural fertilizers. Each of cacao pods here yields 40-50 seeds.
Cocoa flowers usually come out from the haulm before it turns into several tiny cacao pods. As the proper time arrives, the farmer will take out some of the leaves on the trunk to give some room for baby cacao pods to grow as big as they can naturally. The cacao flowers are very special; they normally pollinate by themselves without the help of insects. Seeing the tiny green cacao pods from the tree truck is our great happiness. The cacao farmer walks through the trees to check the pods and waits for them to get bigger and change its colors: yellow, red, and orange… very colorful!
The golden yellow in our logo is associated with the color of this young adult cacao pods.
Within the first two years, cacao trees will bring their pods for harvesting every month. Thus, this is the time for carefully preparing the pods. The cacao-farmer experts not only notice the ripe pod by its color but also feel the texture of a cacao pod while measuring its quality by the shaking sound. When collecting the ripe pod, the best way is to cut it in half and gather seeds as soon as possible. The seeds are covered with the pulp that is white and thick. The fresh cacao pulp tastes as sweet as mangosteen and santol, yet more smooth and tender. We rarely use this part, instead, use its seeds inside.
The farmers swipe off the fresh of healthy pulp; some dried and bad pulps are eliminated. Then it comes to the delicate process, fermentation.
"The chocolate will neither taste good not give us a variety of flavours if the cacao seeds are not fermented properly. The dirty fermentation will keep... (to be continue)"
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 1" - Journey inspiration
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 2" - Truth about Thai Cacao
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 3" - Growing Cacao Tree
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 4" - Bean to bar
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 5" - Nibs to powder
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 6" - How to Taste Good Chocolate