Let´s say, you are currently in the South of Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Philippines or in any other place where you cross at least one cacao tree full of cacao pods per day. Would you like to make cocoa powder for top quality brownies and hot chocolate? Here is what you have to know:
Fermentation of the beans: 5-6 days Open cacao pods and remove the cacao beans. Place the cacao beans in their white pulps into a wooden container. Should you not have a wooden one, a plastic bucket would work as well. Put some banana leaves on top of the container to facilitate the fermentation process. You may also cover the container with the fermenting beans to conserve the heat and prevent evaporation of the liquid: the temperature will rise to 40° - 50°C (104-122°F)! It is okay to open a bean container and stir the beans. You will also observe their colour changing from white through pink to light brown. Light brown, the beans are ready.
Drying: 5-6 days There are a couple of small tricks to make your DIY chocolate taste delicious: At first, put the cacao beans in the shade for the first day or two. The cacao beans that were not fermented yet, would complete their fermentation. Afterwards, bring the beans out in the sun. Turn them several times a day: It will allow the acids to evaporate and cocoa powder will not taste bitter. The duration of drying may depend on the weather and humidity. But beware, an extra long drying period may cause mold contamination!
Roasting: 25 min At least that goes quickly! Turn the oven up to 250F° (120C°) and roast the beans. The beans will be like this:
Shelling Still, there is some work to be done: Separate the nibs from the shells. The cacao nibs would look like this:
Grinding Grind the roasted cacao nibs. Just a regular coffee grinder will be fine!
Cooking You may use the cocoa powder for making hot chocolate and the chocolate sweets! Keeping the production process under control, you may be sure: your chocolate will be the best!