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The Art of Chocolate. From the Finest Cocoa to Exquisite Chocolate. part 3

03 Nov

Published by Max Felchlin AG, Schwyz, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary. (2008)

Since visiting Felchlin 2010 and 2011, I must admit I’m addicted to there chocolate and there philosophy.      This book is to interesting not to blog, so I must share this on my blog.

Vintage Plantations Chocolates Header graphic

The fine-flavours varieties

Criollo

“Creolle” (a native-born person of foreign ancestry); probably originated from Central America and was cultivated in Mexico as the first ever cocoa bean: clearly the finest-quality cocoa. Only very slighty bitter, it reveals not only a mild cocoa flavour but also wonderfull aromas. It is thus also known as “WürzCacao”. From Mexico, Criollo spread across Central America to Venezuela, some Pacific islands (Samoa, Ponape), Timor (Portuguese), Java Dutch) and Ceylon. Today, Criollo is still known as Maracaibo, the name of the port in Northwest Venezuela from which Criollo cocoa from this region was shipped.

Trinitario

Probably a natural (because unintended) hybrid in the Caribbean between Criollo and Forastero that developed when Spanish plantation owners imported Forastero varieties from West Africa and planted them on their haciendas. Still to be found predominantly in the Caribbean, Colombia, Costa Rica and other Central American countries.

Nacional

This is the name of the cocoa that is cultivated on the western (Pacific) side of the Andes (for example, Arriba from Ecuador). The National cacao tree is generally larger than the Criollo and the Forastero tree. Varieties of Nacional are also grown in Cameroon.

Criollo, Trintario and Nacional are delicate, susceptible to disease and have a low yield. However, their beans are fine, highly aromatic and rich in taste. The fine-flavour varieties make up less than 10% of global cocoa production.100% Arriba Nacional CacaoNote the green color, and deep furrows — the specific phenotype signs of Arriba. Any red or yellow color on the outer surface would indicate a hybrid or something not 100% Arriba Nacional.

The Bulk variety

Forastero

(Spanish: strange, foreign): originally from the Upper  Amazon Basin and, from there, exported to West Africa, Brazil, Espirito Santo) and Cuba (Hispaniola). From West Africa, taken to East Africa and Southeast Asia. Strong cocoa taste, slightly bitter and a narrower range of aromas than with Criollo, Trinitario or Nacional. Forastero variations: amalonado, amazon (West Africa, Southeast Asia), cacau comum (Bahia), calabacillo, para (Lower Amazon). Resistant to disease with a high yield and prolific harvest. Makes up to more than 90% percent of world production

Cocoa varieties generate lots of unanswered questions and ambiguities-the only way to achieve clarity would be to take a genetic fingerprint of each individual tree. 

New varieties

As in all areas of agriculture and nutrition, cocoa is also researched and subjected to extensive testing. In order to optimise profits, international groups require that varieties are resistant, produce a high yield and can be managed rationally. Research produce these varieties, even if they are unsophisticated and have poorer flavour than the conventional, traditional varieties. “CCN51”, for example, is a hybrid variety with an extremely high yield. There is a tremendous temptation to cultivate this variety rather than the older varieties, even though “CCN51” has less flavour. Two tons of beans per hectare is regarded as a good yield; wiyh tradiotional varieties, 300 to 500 kilograms of beans per hectare is normal and, in the case of wild cocoa from Beni, the yield is even lower.

NEX EPISODE: THE PLANTER-FROM GATHERER TO LARGE LANDOWNER

 

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