chocolate is a fermented food

Hi folks,

I have news regarding chocolate. Unrefined cocoa has received much news and health related attention as of late for it's health promoting properties. I myself use raw cacao in certain recipes and enjoy it very much. However it IS a fermented food. I know some of you greatly enjoy the Magic Cocoa that is de-caffinated. However I do not believe it is organic and non-organic cocoa can be sprayed with many pesticidal substances throughout it's cultivating, harvesting and processing.

I've heard of folks having fatigue or unhinged binging or irritability or anxiety related to the consumption of chocolate. Please know that if you eat any chocolate, it is a fermented food and thus CAN promote allergic or sensitivity reactions. And, if you eat non-organic chocolate, you may encounter a fair quanitity of toxins from the sprays.

It's a beautiful food in small amounts and when we enjoy it in a state of health providing we do not have mould/aspergillus allergies. I'm including a write up from a wonderful ORGANIC chocolate maker by the name of Bjornsted. Although organic, their products ARE fermented and all unfortunately have can sugar in them.

Take good care guys,


AYA. Stories surrounding the of chocolate can be traced back as far as the mysterious kingdom of the Maya (AD 300 - 900). The Maya believed that the cacao tree and the beans it provided were a gift of the gods, and they worshipped the tree as an idol. For them, the cacao tree was a symbol of fertility and life. Made from cacao beans, these people invented the first chocolate drink (lat. theobroma, i.e. food of the gods). They drank it unheated, and it tasted, despite Chili peppers, vanilla and other flavourings, mainly fatty and bitter. The best part of a cup of chocolate was the much-desired foam which was raised by beating as well as pouring.

Aztecs preparing xocoatl. From »America« von John Ogilby (1671)

AZTECS. Also, in the subsequent reigns of the Toltecs and Aztecs (from AD 1200 onwards) the success of the cacao tree and its fruit continued. As a source of wisdom, a resource of vigour (a man could march as tales have it without further food all day long on just one cup of cocoa), and in order to increase the sexual potency (the emperor Montezuma reportedly drank 50 or more portions daily...) cocoa was attributed great power.

The arrival of Columbus at the island of Guanaja in 1502. Aztecs welcome the ships with gifts.
(Contemporary engraving, ca. 1535)

Symbolical presentation of exporting cocoa from America to Europe. (Illustration from Brancaccio's work »De potu chocolatis« - »Of Chocolate Drinking«, Rome 1672)

COLUMBUS. When Columbus reached the American coast in 1502 (on his fourth and last voyage), he had no idea that people offered him the most valuable goods for trade. He found that cocoa tasted abominable, and only brought a few cacao beans back to Spain out of curiosity.

CORTÉS. It was only seventeen years later that Hernando Corteacute;s understood the value of the cocoa beans; these had been used as local currency, too (a slave cost one hundred beans, a rabbit ten beans). Quite soon he pushed the cultivation of cocoa, and the first settlers arrived in Latin America, enticed by the prospect to quickly make their fortune. In their view, money literally grew on the trees.

SUGAR. In 1522, the nuns of Oaxaca tried out a new recipe by mixing the bitter cocoa with sugar and sweet spices. This concoction tasted a lot better and probably is the origin of the delicious drink as we know it today.

EUROPE. In 1528, cocoa and its possibilities was found on its way to Europe.

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. In the course of the Industrial Revolution (1750), the development of a perfected steam engine effectively mechanized the grinding of the cocoa beans. About sixty years later, the Dutch chemist Conrad Van Houten invented a cocoa press that enabled confectioners to make chocolate candy by mixing cocoa butter with finely ground sugar.

MILK CHOCOLATE. In 1875, a Swiss candymaker added dry milk powder to chocolate liquor, thus smoothing the way for milk chocolate.

Hall of conches at Lindt & Sprüngli's at the turn of the century. (Photo from around 1900)

CONCHING. At the end of the 19th century, the Swiss Rudolph Lindt was the first to produce chocolate with a smooth and fine texture by using a conch, i.e. a machine with heavy rollers that plough back and forth through the chocolate mass.

TODAY. Ever since then, there have been international efforts to produce all kinds of chocolates in varying qualities and shapes - to be geared to different needs. And the end is not yet in sight...!

Growing the cocoa beans

HABITAT. The cacao tree is very delicate and sensitive. It only thrives in hot, rainy climates on fertile soil, protected from the sun and the wind. Thus, its cultivation is more or less confined to the countries close to the equator.

Harvesting cocoa with a machete.

Covering cocoa beans with banana leaves for fermentation.

HARVEST. The cocoa pods, which range in colour from bright yellow to deep purple, are growing directly on the branches and can ripen to a length up to 14 inches. Experienced pickers snip the pods with sharp steel knives or machetes.

FERMENTATION. After collecting the pods they are transported to the breakers who split them open. The pulp and the beans are then placed on banana leaves and also covered with banana leaves. Fermentation lasts from five to ten days, and it serves to remove the bitter taste of cocoa and to develop the typical cocoa flavour. The pulp dissolves, and the beans, which were lavender or purple before, take on their rich brown colour.

The contents of the cocoa pods - the cocoa beans - are gathered and put to fermentation.

DRYING. Drying is accomplished by laying the beans on bamboo matting in the sun. During this procedure, the beans lose nearly all their moisture, thus preventing their going mouldy. The finished raw cocoa is put into sacks and shipped to the countries of the chocolate manufacturers.

Processing of Cocoa:

Drying in the tropical sun enhances the aroma of the cocoa, and the beans lose nearly all their moisture.
When the beans have been dried, they are referred to as raw coco.

CLEANING First, the cocoa beans pass through a cleaning machine to be thoroughly cleaned.

ROASTING. Separately, each sort is then roasted in large rotary cylinders. The roasting process is crucial for the development of the characteristic aroma of chocolate. Furthermore, the actual bean becomes loose within the brittle shell.

CRACKING. The roasted beans are passed through a winnowing machine that cracks them. Fans blow away the last pieces of dirt as well as the thin, light pieces of broken shell.

BLENDING. According to the chocolate's particular recipe, different qualities of cocoa are blended. Manufacturers always make a big secret out of this, since they want to achieve the right formula for a desired product that no one can copy.

GRINDING. The broken pieces of the cocoa beans are next conveyed to mills where they are run through several courses of grinding. The frictional heat, generated by this process, liquefies the cocoa butter. The result is the bright brown cocoa mass which already smells like chocolate.

PRESSING. IIn hydraulic presses high pressure is applied to remove the desired cocoa butter (the fat of the cocoa bean). It drains away as a clear, golden liquid. The pressed cake that is left after the removal of cocoa butter can be pulverized and sifted into customary cocoa powder (there can be up to 60 different sorts, depending on usage).

The making of chocolate

On the page "Processing of Cocoa" we present the main steps of the preparation of cocoa!

BLENDING At this setup, at the latest, the chocolate masters are playing it close to their chests. In the melanger as it is called the relevant ingredients are kneaded together depending on what kind and what quality of chocolate is to be produced.

Relevant ingredients:
in dark chocolate: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and sugar
in milk chocolate: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder
fin white chocolate: cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder

The diagram of a drying conche explains the principle of refining. The constant movement produces aeration, and undesired, volatile substances are removed.

FINE GRINDING.This quite solid and coarse-grained mass now travels through a series of five heavy steel rollers with different distances and varying speeds. The gap between the last rollers is so small that the chocolate components are ground very fine; the whole mixture is refined to a smooth paste.

CONCHING. The conches, which have taken their name from the shell-like shape of the containers originally employed, are equipped with heavy rollers that plough back and forth through the chocolate mass for several hours. These rollers can produce different degrees of agitation and aeration in developing and modifying the chocolate flavours; chocolate gets its very fine smoothness.

COOLING. When the tempering interval-heating, cooling and reheating has been finished - a complicated procedure because the various fats of cocoa butter have different melting and congelation points - the chocolate mass is ready to be formed into the shape of the complete product.
Original Post

Thanks for the info, and it's good to put the caution out there, as sensitivities abound with CRC and vary for each person. That's pretty interesting - I never knew that cococa was fermented before.

At least we have carob powder as an alternative for those who are sensitive to the cocoa. I know a lot of my recipes call for wondercocoa, but for anyone who doesn't want to use it, you can substitute carob powder in its place. The flavor will be quite different, but I think it would still be tasty. As for me, I've never had any sensitivity to the wondercocoa, so I feel fine with eating it as a treat. It is too bad that it's not organic though...I've been meaning to email that suggestion to the manufacturer, even though I doubt it would do any good.

Hi Tarilee -

This may be stupid questions but I noticed you mentioned "as long as we do not have mould/aspergillus allergies." Don't most people have allergies to mold? Is this because there may be mold on the cocoa like nuts or is it an active ingredient in the cocoa? Also you said you used Bjornsted cocoa but it has sugar...but we can't have that...I'm sorry I'm confused. What am I messing up here?....also carob doesn't that have MORE sugar in it then cocoa does? Why is that healthier then cocoa does it have something to do with the glycemic index? Sorry I'm so confused these days, it's simply awful. Roll Eyes

Thanks for clarification

Hi Bella,

The news I offered was not good for folks with candida who love chocolate. Indeed, many folks have sensitivities to mould but can still tolerate mould related and fermented foods. Folks with candidovergroth are particularly sensitive to mould because of the similarities between yeast and all moulds. It's something to be very aware of. Carob can also be contaminated with moulds and as you say it has sugar in it as well. Not the choices you wanted to hear I know but that's the way the cookie crumbles as they say Frown Smile (for now at least).

What about toasting or heating up the carob powder is that not adequate in killing the mold, similar to nuts? I know I am nutty for chocolate or carob, it's really horrible going through all this stuff with out being able to have even a little of this every once in awhile.

You may find that cooking reduces the allergenic potential for carob, nuts or cocoa but it does not eliminate it. If you experiment you'll discover how it works for you and I'm sure, act accordingly. Just please do keep in mind that if you are intolerant to a food and continue to eat it, it can slow your healing.

Best of luck with this Bella,

Hi there,

Welcome back to the forums!

The preparation of the cacao beans involves fermentation and I do not believe that they are available in their unfermented form. I think it is partially the process that makes them taste the way they do. A while back I put a post up including an artcile on the processing of chocolate. If you do a search with me as the author you should pull it up.

I buy Natural Navitas brand whole caco beans and crus them up. Personally I usually have a very positive response to it as long as I use this unrefined stuff and use it in moderation. However I am not currently suffering from CRC.


Hi there,

Navitas naturals is a brand of cacao beans or nibs taht can be ground in a coffee maker to use however you please (or I should rephrase that- to however you think is wise). I warn you however, if you are prone to caffeine addictions Eek Roll Eyes Unsure Rolleyes Unsure this yummy stuff and the 'buzz' it gives you might hook ya! Eek


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