Nicaragua Cacao: Features, Types, and Management.
Cocoa is a tropical crop that develops in the latitudes between 10°N and 10°S of the equator. It is widely distributed in Africa, Asia, Oceania and America in plantations destined to produce essentially their grains or almonds and that are used mainly for the production of chocolates and fats in the food or cosmetological industries.
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao, L.), is a species of the genus Theobroma, of the family of the Malvaceae, which has more than 22 species.
He is native to South America and domesticated in Mesoamerica.
The traditional classification system that is still used indicates that there are basically three types of cultivars from which emerge the varieties, hybrids and clones that are now planted throughout the world: the so-called Creoles, foreigners and trinitarians.
Trinitarian cacao originated in Trinidad, as a result of natural hybridization between the creole and the ameloned foreigner.
The “Trinitarians” are types generated by the hybridization of criollos x strangers.
They are genetically and morphologically very heterogeneous, although it is not possible to delimit them through common external characteristics, the plants are robust with green or pigmented fruits and with seeds ranging from dark violet to pale pink.
Its origin is established in Trinidad and Tobago and it is presumed that the hybridization was the result of a spontaneous and natural crossing process; Although, of anthropic origin.
The classification of the cacao in Creole and outsider has no genetic basis and was carried out simply with the terms used by the producers of Venezuelan cacao from the central coastal zone.
The “creole” coconuts originate in northern South America and Central America.
They are characterized by a mild and aromatic flavor, found mainly in Venezuela, Central America, Papua New Guinea, Caribbean Antilles, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Java. They dominated the international market until the middle of the 18th century.
Chocolate Vienna: Made from Premium Cocoa Seeds: White Criollo & Premium Trinitarian (pink seed).
Single Origin: Matagalpa, Nicaragua
Due to its high susceptibility to diseases and its low productivity, it has been reduced as a crop and in the market. They are characterized by having elongated fruit with pronounced tips, bent and sharp.
The surface of these fruits is generally rough, thin, green with spots in the form of splashes ranging from red to dark purple. The fruits are marked by about 10 very deep grooves; Its grains are large, thick, almost round, of white cotyledons or little pigmented, with low content of tannins; Rich in aromas and flavors. High quality chocolate is obtained from these cocoas.
The type of “foreign” cocoa dominates the world production and trade of grains, they originate in the Amazon basin and are produced in the four continents of cocoa (Africa, Asia, America and Oceania).
They are characterized by having generally oval and short fruits, with colors that vary between green and yellow when they are mature, are smooth surface, with thick bark and lignified inside.
They have small and flattened grains, ranging from dark violet and intense to pale violet, depending on the content of their tannins.
Creole Cocoa (Criollo Cacao) Gallery
Nicaragua Cocoa Production:
Single Origin: Matagalpa Cocoa Production
Cocoa in Nicaragua requires temperatures that oscillate between 22 and 27ºC and needs rainfall between 1500 and 3500 mm / year, with at least 150 mm per month.
Soils suitable for this crop range from clayey to sandy loam. Clays have the facility to absorb water within their crystalline structure.
The sandy soils, although they have good porous space for the penetration of roots, lack good water retention, which is why they are not recommended for the planting of cocoa in places with dry periods.
In general, cacao prefers soils with a humic horizon of uniform dark color, with depth greater than one meter.
They are well-drained soils, with good moisture retention capacity and good aeration.
Dry periods: soils with scarce water reserves can satisfy part of their demand, from high relative humidity by reducing the stress of the plant and evapotranspiration.
The relative humidity should not be less than 60% during the day, especially in the dry season.
It is grown in the departments of Rivas, Granada, Rio San Juan, Matagalpa, Jinotega and the Caribbean Coast.
POST HARVEST MANAGEMENT OF COCOA
Broken corn on the cob.
The breakage of the ears must be done in such a way as to avoid damage and contamination of the grains.
Once a sufficient quantity of ears has been harvested, they are broken in order to extract the grains.
It is recommended to split the ears at once, or at the most, within two days after the harvest, in order to avoid losses due to disease.
The slime cocoa should be placed in a clean plastic bag so that the mucilage is kept for the necessary time, in case it has to be taken to the benefit.
• Small, cut, flat or glued grains should be processed separately so as not to give the cocoa a bad appearance that deteriorates the quality.
It is one of the processes that most affects the quality of the grain, since it is in this that it is possible to obtain the characteristic flavor and aroma of cocoa.
The fermentation must be done in wooden crates,
with holes that allow the mucilage to be leached, it must be located under the roof and protected from strong wind currents and animals (image 30).
In general, fermentation takes five to six days with turns of the dough to the second, fourth and fifth day, to oxygenate the dough and homogenize the fermentation.
During the fermentation process the mucilage is released, the temperature increases, the embryo of the seed dies and the precursors of flavor and aroma of the grain are released.
Once the fermentation has finished, the grains must be swollen and the peel with a darker color.
Never wash the grain before starting the fermentation or carry out an excessive fermentation since it can generate a putrefaction of the grain that generates acidity and bad tastes, difficult to remove in the industrial process.
The initial pH, the changes in the sugar content and the anaerobic conditions favor the activity of the yeasts of the cocoa mass.
In researches carried out on the yeasts involved in the fermentation, two quantities of existing strains have been identified.
Microorganisms that are naturally found in the grains participate, among which the yeasts first act; later, the lactic bacteria act and, finally, the acetic bacteria, the Bacillus and the enterobacteria intervene.
The microorganisms carry out the fermentation in the pulp, which contains carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, sucrose) and an acid value (pH) between 3.3 and 4.0, due to the presence of citric acid.
The process of fermentation of the cocoa is natural or spontaneous, since the microorganisms are not intentionally added to the grains, which are sterile inside the pods.
They are contaminated with microorganisms coming from all surfaces with which they come in contact: utensils and
the hands of the people who manipulate cocoa.
Cocoa Drying has four main challenges:
- Decrease the water of the grains.
- Avoid germination of the seeds.
- Maintain and achieve the required quality of cocoa beans and finally.
- Achieve the moisture required to prevent the development of bacteria and fungi.
To achieve this proper drying it is important to consider variables such as humidity.
The temperature: both for drying and for storage, in this case, low temperatures are suitable; Another important variable is the drying time for each period, in order not to exceed until burning or roasting the grains or, on the contrary, exceeding the desired humidity.
Storage and selection of Cocoa Seeds
For its part, it is important to make a selection of grains by quality.
Premium grains correspond to large and large grains.
To carry out this classification, specific sieves or sieves are used, so that the cocoa of lower quality (due to its smaller size) passes through the sieves.
It is important to consider that the special cocoa screen is number six (# 6).