Tropical Herbs and Spice!

Keaau, HI

Here is a Cacao Tree, Theobroma cacao. The source of Chocolate!

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Keaau, HI

This is Forastero a common field cacao in Central and South America.

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

My favorite food!!! Too bad that tree can't grow up here! Then I could make and eat all the chocolate I wanted. lol

Keaau, HI

This is Criollo cacao, a less commonly grown tree that produces somewhat smaller pods, but makes a richer / stronger flavored chocolate. Criollo and Forestero beans are often mixed to make a blended chocolate.

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Keaau, HI

On top left is a ripe Criollo pod; under is cacao beans fermenting; right is cleaned dried fermented cacao beans ready to be roasted.

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Keaau, HI

At last there is roasted cacao beans, ground, and made into a stimulating drink that makes coffee jealous!

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Keaau, HI

The hardest part of making chocolate is growing it.

Below is a Criollo pod, split with seeds showing; and choice seed (Forastero) ready to plant.

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Keaau, HI

Here are young Cacao trees, soon ready for the field.

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Wow how very interesting; so - you make your own chocolate!?

Keaau, HI

Yes, a crude form of chocolate is made by sending beans through a poppy seed grinder, then gently heating the resulting ground paste with agave syrup or honey, and stirring it till it's smooth, and adding vanilla extract. Place the chocolate in a mould and cool, and cut into servings.
Flavorings such as orange peel, coffee, mint, cardamom, etc., can be added during the grinding process by mixing them with the beans in the poppy seed grinder.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Can you send me some ? LOL

Keaau, HI

Some day I hope to provide organic raw and roasted chocolates.

Aloha, Dave

Hillsborough , NC(Zone 7a)

I have never seen a Cocao bean or tree before, how very cool to have a chocolate farm! Thanks for the interesting pics - how long does it take to go from seed to producing tree?

Aloha.

(Zone 5b)

Oh, Dave, I was wondering when you will start this thread, you talked about it some time ago! As always, beautiful and rich in info!

If you decide to sell chocolate, I wanna be your first client!

Keaau, HI

The trees take about 4-5 years before they start to produce. In about 10 years they reach full production.

This Forastero tree has been in the ground for 12 years.

Thumbnail by Metrosideros
Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

hey goofy - I was first LOL....

(Zone 5b)

OK, Duchlady! We're not going to fight, I'll be second! Surely Dave will have enough for both, or in fact for everyone in this forum!

Brandon, FL(Zone 9b)

Thank you for posting, very interesting. I have a small seedling I hope oneday (emphasis on oneday) to plant in the ground. Tasted fresh cocoa beans on a trip to Mexico, I can just imagine those made into a hot chocolate like you posted. YUMMY. Do just add the gound beans with a sweetener like honey to make the drink?

Keaau, HI

The drink is simply made by grinding up the dried raw or roasted beans and dropping it in cool water, then slowly bringing it to a boil (medium heat) in a pan, turn off the heat, capping it for at least 5 minutes, then strained into a cup.

I put milk in it; sweetener can be added; a few drops of vanilla extract is good too!

Mocha (cacao & coffee mix) is a good way to start the day!

Brandon, FL(Zone 9b)

Sounds delicious....thank you!

Vieques, PR

Trivia point: cacao is unusual in that its fruit stems directly from the trunk --there's a word for that behavior, but I can't call it to mind.

Vieques, PR

oh, yeah, "caulifory" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauliflory

This behavior allows trees to be pollinated have their seeds dispersed by animals which cannot climb or fly.

Keaau, HI

Cacao does exhibit cauliflory, but its flowers are fertilized by midges and other tiny flies. It is good to toss banana peels, citrus, and other rotting fruit (compost bucket) under the cacao trees when they are flowering to attract little flying insects.

The flowers are about 1 cm (1/2 in.) across; so far I can't get a clear photo of them.

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

Great Dave...always wondered how it was produced!!!!

Laie, HI

Cocoa made from roasted cocoa beans is a daily drink in Samoa. (I lived there for several years) They roast the beans over a fire on a metal drum lid and then pound them in a wooden bowl with a smooth big rock. Then put the cocoa paste into a kettle with water and bring it to the boil and then add lots of sugar. Strong enough to make your hair curl! I always loved seeing the colors of the cacao pods.....like the colors of fire. One day I was at our local city dump here in Hawaii and I saw a rooster eating something. When I looked to see what it was it was a cacao pod with the seeds sprouting. I jumped into the trash and got the pod and was able to grow a few dozen trees for local Samoan gardeners to have. My own garden is too near the ocean for me to want to bother with it in my own garden....too sensitive to salt winds.

Hillsborough , NC(Zone 7a)

A compost bucket to aid in pollination - who'd have thunk it! Thanks for the interesting topic, Dave.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

I agree, I learned a lot.

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

Dave...Bob is processing our Cacao beans to make chocolate for the grandkeikis...we may call you for help!!!! We have 4 or 5 trees and they really produce! Do you think it is worthwhile to plant more?

Keaau, HI

No doubt Carol! Chocolate is the "Food of the Gods"! Learning how to eat the stuff, is the education of Angels!

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

OOOOoooooo. There are more ways than by the truffle? The DOVE?...do go on....
Maybe I could get excited about them...working really hard just to make me really fat seems futile (why work hard?) but if it were diverse and worth tasting rather than swilling... It would be fascinating. Really!!!

AH - Dave....question: After Bob read your thread, he told me there were two Cacao out by his greenhouse. Anything growing there is toast because the Ficus Banyan's roots are all in there...heck, the 'dirt' is getting like particle board! So, these two miserable trees are in pots growing into the ground(?). The trunk is about 4' high with little leaves/branches at the very top. Bob wants to make it shorter cutting the trunk completely off (like 'stumping' coffee trees). Would you fertilize like heck and 'stump' before transplanting and move it only when new growth appeared OR would you transplant it, wait until it is settled in and producing new growth and then whack it? #2 is my vote - #1 is Bob's. Now...you can avoid us having a messey divorce if you can tell us what to do. Mahalo

Keaau, HI

Hi Carol, it would be good to cut the plants back before transplanting them, to avoid transplant shock.

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

He, of course, paid no attention to me and did it both ways (two trees, two systems).

Can I come up and see your Chocolate Factory?

Atenas, Costa Rica

Here in Costa Rica Theobroma cacao plantations got a disease= caused by a fungus Monilia, the fruit turns black like rotten. My cousin from the caribean side of this country had plantations of this delicious cacao, I understood that the growers learned how to pollinated the flowers.
Once at my house, my grandmother obtained a big ball of cacao from dry seeds.

Keaau, HI

Hi Carol, you are certainly welcome to check out my place, hope you won't be in shock from the simple way that I live.

Within a few weeks I will have put together a demonstration on how to make chocolate, in a crude yet tasty form! That would be a great time to stop by; I'll let you know when everything is ready.

Not anything close to a chocolate factory; all is done with old fashioned mills and grinders, and simple kitchen equipment. Stuff that anyone could reproduce in their own home!

Producing cacao in this area could provide an agricultural industry that few have taken advantage of yet.
The field that Hershey Co. helped to put together in Kea'au, produced cacao beans that had twice the average butter-fat of beans produced elsewhere in the world. It is a shame that they abandoned the project, just because the fields that they sponsored in Ka'anapali, Maui failed miserably!

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

hmmmmmmmmmm...... The lights are going on....

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

Aloha.

Oh, my hawai'ian friends... My heart is heavy this morning. Life has a way of throwing curves at you. Reading about you guys growing cacao makes it even worse. I truly left a part of myself in the islands when I visited Hawai'i. How I wish I were among you in Paradise.

Mahalo nui loa for this extremely interesting thread, specially for someone who has yet to encounter a form of chocolate he doesn't like. My favorite: very dark chocolate with hot pepper inclusions in it: not for the keikis but oh so truly addictive once you get used to the idea.

I am not good company this morning. It will pass. Tomorrow will be better.

Aloha.
Pu'ole, a.k.a. Sylvain.

Hillsborough , NC(Zone 7a)

Lol Sylvain - I am with you - food of the Gods, and I don't really have much of a sweet tooth!

Dave, tell us about the plantation at Ka'anapali and why it failed...you could even find a field to plant in up there now with all the new building going on. You wouldn't recognise the whole area, there is hardly an inch of land left, they are even building up the hills mauka from Lahaina..

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

David...and what Cacao did they plant in Keaau? The same that we have?

Keaau, HI

I don't know exactly where the cacao in Ka'anapali was planted, but that it was mauka of the tourist area.
It is my understanding that Hershey Co. and Amway, and some local investors started several fields of cacao to see what type of product they could produce in Hawai'i. Ka'anapali is where they made the biggest effort, but the climate there was not favorable for good production. Even though the Kea'au planting was very successful, they gave up on the whole project.

The Kea'au planting is right beside the "Banyan Inn", just outside of Old Kea'au Town by the new schools.
There is 10 acres planted there, with several varieties of cacao. My Forestero trees originated from there.
Several years ago, Bob Cooper began leasing the field in Kea'au for his business, which is (I think) "The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory".

From what I can gather, the cacao tree loves cool wet weather. I have tasted chocolate made from beans grown in lower Puna, and it is not as rich as the same from my trees. The hot cocoa drink made from my beans seems to consistently have more fat in it than the lower Puna beans.
The main difference is that lower Puna is hot and dry, while up here it is cooler and wetter. Down country the trees need to be shaded; up here they can be grown in full sun.

Atenas, Costa Rica

varities of cacao here in Costa Rica have been grown in the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica or our south pacific. Low altittude, very humid. It rains almost the whole year. (tropical rain forest). Rainy and high humidity (80% or more). As I explained before this kind of environmment improved the problem with Monilia (fungus). Nowadays I guess there are varieties tolerant to this disease.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.
BACK TO TOP