You may already know a lot about raw chocolate, or this may be the first time you are coming across it, in any case, welcome! Although the idea of Raw Foods, and specifically Raw Chocolate are no longer new to some of us, it’s new to about 90% of the population, so this page is here to simply inform, educate and bring some awareness and consciousness to the idea of Raw Foods through the medium of Raw Chocolate; if Raw Chocolate can be a bridge for people to cross over into Raw Foods and/or healthy eating then, for me, it’s serving a vital role.
What is Raw Chocolate?
Raw chocolate is literally that; unprocessed and not heated above 42°c/118°f during the processing of the beans, liquor, butter or powder. From there some questions may arise, such as, how do you sweeten the chocolate, what is the point in not roasting it, don’t you lose flavour if the beans are not roasted… let’s address all of that here and now.
Ooosha’s raw chocolate, and how it is taught in the Fundamentals of Raw Chocolate and online classes, is sweetened using a variety of natural and unprocessed ingredients such as, xylitol (minimally processed), white mulberries, coconut sugar and/or lucuma.
All sweeteners used throughout the classes are low GI and suitable for diabetics, however, it’s important to research that information for yourself if you are diabetic or on a low GI diet as all bodies are different and yours may react differently to someone else.
For the most part, Raw Chocolate does not have the same flavour profile as cooked chocolate due to the fact that the beans are not roasted, ferment or subject to the Maillard reaction You will not get the same flavour notes as with cooked chocolate; those notes are developed through the roasting and fermentation of the beans and the lengthy process of conching or melanging the chocolate in order to reduce the micron size and expand the flavour molecules.
Don’t get me wrong, Raw Chocolate certainly has the richness and decadence of cooked chocolate, but the subtle fragrances and aromas are not present unless is has been specially processed and not many raw chocolatier are applying this process to their chocolate.
I understand that the chocolate will be missing that “other level” and this is why I create those flavour notes through the use of unique handmade textures and natural aromas. I use 100% pure ingredients to create mind blowing textures and flavours which aim to transport you into a magical world of chocolate heaven.
Food has the ability to transport you to another time and place – this idea is taught throughout the Fundamental Raw Chocolate class and online classes, where students are given a base recipe for making a variety of crunchy textures to add to chocolates in order to give them your individual stamp and help others be transported, as you are, when enjoying it.
Why Raw Chocolate?
Nutritionally speaking, most foods are more nutrient dense and easier to digest in their raw state and chocolate is no exception to that. Aside from the nutritional side of things, I believe that most foods which are kept in their raw state, and mass produced, retain more integrity than their cooked mass produced counterparts; I like to believe that in producing a raw, organic (not necessarily certified because organic certification is very difficult to attain and costs upwards of £1,000 a year just to have the “certified organic association” logo on the product ) and fairly traded product more care is taken in the production of that food from planting and harvesting to processing, packaging and shipping. Also, in fairly traded situations, the local community is being made part of this operation; that it is giving something back rather than constantly taking away. Now, there are many cooked chocolate companies who adhere to organic and fairly traded standards, but still, the processing standards are very different, in my opinion.
How is Raw Cacao produced?
Cacao thrives in Tropical Climates 20 degrees North and South of the Equator. Native to the America’s nowadays 70% of the worlds Cacao is produced in Africa where Child Slave Labour practices are still in effect. Raw Chocolate is mainly sourced from Ecuador, Peru and Bali where it is fairly traded and ethically produced.
The cacao starts as a seed, as all things do, and grows into little seedlings which are then transplanted into an ideal growing condition amongst other companion tress such as banana, vanilla, coconut and coffee to name a few. With careful care, most cacao trees begin to bear fruit in the fifth year, although some cacao trees can yield pods in the third and forth years. A cacao tree reaches peek production in approximately 10 years and will continue producing pods at a high level for an additional 12-13 years. It is not uncommon to find trees 30-40 years old, still producing pods.
Thousands of tiny, waxy pink or white five-pedaled blossoms cluster together on the trunk and older branches. But only 3% to 10 % of these blossoms will mature into full fruit.
The fruit grows as green or maroon pods on the trunk and main branches. Shaped like an elongated melon tapered at both ends, these pods ripen to a golden or sometimes scarlet hue with multicolored flecks.
Once the fruits are ready to be harvested, which is indicated by the colour of the pod, they are cut off the tree, collected and cut open with machetes. One person can collect up to 650 pods a day. The beans are then scooped out and removed from the flesh. Some raw cacao companies might ferment the beans, but most do not. The mosit beans are then laid on clean, hot roofs and raked over throughout the days to assure even drying. Once dried, the beans form a skin which needs to be removed before any further production can be done . In order to remove the skins, the beans are shot against a wall with a fan blowing on them; as the beans shatter and skins comes off, the fan blows the skins away to be discarded and the nibs fall into a large container.
These nibs are now either packed to sell to individuals, shipped off to chocolate companies who use them raw or roast them in house or further processed. The next processing stage is to make cacao liquor. In order to do this, the nibs are cold pressed (for raw production) into a liquid which then hardens into a smooth paste. This is also used in chocolate production, both raw and cooked. If the goal is to make cacao powder and cacao butter, this liquor (consisting of fat (butter) and mass (cacao solids)) will have the fat removed from it, giving us cacao butter, and the remaining mass is dried and made into cacao powder.