Ever wondered how the heavenly bars of chocolate come into being? Well, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Leading chocolate seller Mars Inc. has filed a patent application, claiming “Cocoa off-flavors can be avoided by fermenting beans in sealed vacuumed bags inside an incubator with yeast starter cultures.” A specialized panel tested both the methods and found that the cocoa liquor produced from the new method is more enhanced than the original one (aerobic wooden box fermentation method).
Cocoa was traditionally fermented in vast plantations through a method of leaving heaps of wet beans over them, to rest for about a week and then covering them up with banana leaves. Many companies choose to control the fermentation process by using wooden boxes and starter cultures.
However, Mars’ new application says the new method consists of placing wet beans in sealed, air tight bags inside commercial temperature controlled incubators for six days at a minimum of 37° C. Mars claims that these altered, air tight conditions improve the flavor of the cocoa in finished chocolate products in contrast to the traditionally achieved ones.
The application also claims “The invention is based on the discovery that aerobic fermentation [with oxygen] of cocoa beans and/or their pulp is not required to obtain the desired characteristic of cocoa flavor and taste...This is surprising since it is generally accepted that both anaerobic and aerobic fermentation is important in the flavor development of cocoa beans.”
The American chocolate maker stated that the method can be used on any variety of cocoa bean including cupuacu beans or coffee beans, but they have done it on cocoa from Brazil’s Bahia region. Following the air tight-container fermentation method, the traditional method of drying, roasting and milling can be done.
The patent was originally filed in 2014 but came to light on January 2016.