A preface from Jaco, co-founder of the farm stays concept in Taboquinhas. This article brings the inspiring experience of cacao seminars across as they are given by founder Osvaldo de Brito. Written by Daniela from Uruguay, a volunteer at Fazenda Taboquinhas.
The world of cacao as revealed to me on Fazenda Taboquinhas.
It is worth mentioning that it grows at a tree with large and glossy leaves. The blossoms are like small pearls, appearing on the thick rugged trunks covered with lichens. They are tiny beautiful white and pinkish flowers. Of these, in just one month, a fruit develops that increases rapidly in size. Colour can change from green or purple to vibrant yellow and is always veined. Cacao fruits are rather big, sometimes, as big as a melon. The fruit has a thick shell as if it is a box to keep a treasure. It is a kind of treasure indeed and delicious from scratch: the cacao seed. The fruit seed is surrounded by a tasty pulp whose delicate and wonderful juice is named honey of cacao, an elixir of exceptional sweetness.
Then begins the journey to chocolate:
- collecting the cacao fruits from the trees without breaking them
- loading fruits in baskets to remove them from the plantation
- cutting them in half and extract its pulp with care
- separating the seed from the pulp and filter the tasty cacao honey from the pulp.
This is only the beginning of the task that is carried out with love and care by Osvaldo and his collaborators at his farm in Taboquinhas. The work continues and this part of the process is still more delicate since the quality of the chocolate depends to a great extent on it. The seeds are fermented in an artisanal way in a special box for a few days. Further, are they dried in the typical barges where they constantly are moved and turned. This is continued until the seeds have obtained their brown colour and reached the delicate aroma with the mild bitterness of the chocolate. As the seeds have reached this stage they are named ‘Nibs’. In the following stage, the nibs are roasted and peeled and ground on a stone pilon for many hours to obtain a 100% pure cacao paste.
Turning the cacao fruit into chocolate is almost like the work of an alchemist. Percentages and exact measurements of cacao paste, cacao butter, sugar, and milk are resulting in endless varieties and combinations. Resulting in different chocolates and all wonderfully delicious. From there to the palate, yes the joy of the soul is only a matter of choice! We shared in the magical process from the land to the table. A really unforgettable experience that you are able to have in Fazenda Taboquinhas.