Botanical Name: Theobroma cacao (pronounce kah-kow) - cultivar Criollo
Country of Origin: Ecuador
Production: The criollo variety of cacao beans is sourced from the native-born heirloom species and is the most difficult variety to grow due to its vulnerability to a variety of environmental threats.
After the ripe pod has been cut from the tree, it is opened, the rind discarded, and the pulp and seeds laid out for several days. During this time the pulp liquefies or “sweats” and fermentation starts, which softens the bitter taste and helps to unlock the full aroma of the cacao bean. This fermentation process is usually followed by roasting, yet our cacao beans remain unroasted - just sun-dried, keeping them raw from start to finish.
For further processed products, the raw bean is gently crushed and its thin skin removed so that only pieces or “nibs” remain. Cacao nibs are then slowly ground into a thick brown liquid called cacao paste (aka cacao mass or liquor) which is made up of cacao butter (55-60%) with fine cocoa particles suspended in it. This raw cacao paste is subsequently pressed until it separates into cacao butter and a cacao “cake” which is then ground to produce cacao powder.
Qualities: The Incas considered cacao to the the “drink of the gods” which gave rise to the scientific name of the cacao tree Theobroma cacao, theo, meaning god, and broma meaning drink. Cacao has been cultivated in Ecuador since the 17th century and was the main product of export up until the 1920s.
The criollo variety is considered worldwide to have the finest floral aroma and flavour profile of all cacao varieties. Some claim that “what the fine arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer criollo bean is to chocolate”.
The beans contain magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and potassium, and are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.
Common Use: The whole cacao bean can be eaten as is, or crushed to loosen and remove the thin peel. The peel can be collected to use for a healthy tea. The bean pieces (also called cacao nibs), can be enjoyed either whole or ground and added to smoothies, granolas, desserts, raw food cars, or any dish that calls for the delicious flavour of chocolate.
Delightful raw chocolate sauce can be made by grinding the whole beans or nibs into a powder in a spice mill, coffee grinder, or food processor and combining them with cacao butter or coconut oil. Creative options abound! Try adding natural sweeteners, seeds, nut butters, spices and extracts, or a pinch of Himalayan pink salt to create amazing raw or baked desserts.
Storage: Keep tightly sealed in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Safety: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the CFIA or FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This product has been packaged in the same facility as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and other potential allergens.