Ohana Sailing Adventure

CHOCOLATE!!!

Need I say more?

Grenada has some outstanding chocolate. We had the pleasure of taking a tour last week of the Grenada Chocolate Company and the Belmont Estate, and between the two, we saw the entire process of chocolate production.

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Cocoa trees grow everywhere here. Our tour guide pulled a pod from a tree, hit it hard on the ground to break it open and shared the beans inside – they’re encased in a sweet, gelatinous pulp that tastes a bit like mango.

The beans are harvested and then covered with banana leaves and jute bags, and they are left to ferment for 5-8 days. Fermentation is an exothermic process, reaching up to 125°F (about 50°C), so the pile feels noticeably hot to the touch. They then dry for about a week before roasting. At the Belmont Estate, they dry the beans on large trays outside that can be quickly pushed under cover in case of rain, and people walk across them a couple of times an hour to stir them. Our friend who went with us and walked through them said it felt like walking through warm coals. We got to taste a bean in-between drying and roasting, and I must say – although chocolate is delicious, the fermented, pre-roasted beans…not so much!

This step in the process is where our tour at Grenada Chocolate Company started.

Edmond Brown, the sole surviving founder of three founders, continues to make chocolate daily and gave us a great tour. The next step for the beans is roasting – similar to what is used with coffee beans.

The beans are then cracked and winnowed, separating the nibs from the shells. The shells are used for compost; the nibs are used to produce chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter.

The nibs are ground at the Grenada Chocolate Factory using a vintage European machine called the Melangeur – basically two giant granite rollers on top of a revolving granite slab. This turns the cocoa nibs into a thick paste and then liquid – this is cocoa “liquor” and is >50% fat. This can then have sugar added to it in the same machine, to make chocolate, or it can be pressed to extract cocoa butter (with the solids left behind used to make cocoa powder).

The final grinding happens to produce an extremely smooth texture, followed by conching. Conching is intense mixing, agitating, and aerating of heated chocolate, to allow any off-flavored, bitter substances and water vapor to evaporate. This also allows every solid cocoa particle to be coated with cocoa butter (added back in along with sugar). The chocolate is then tempered and molded, then allowed to ‘age’ for at least a few weeks before being sold.

As interesting as the process was to learn about, hands down the best part of the tour? The shop and the chocolate samples that we got to try…

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