If you ever wondered how chocolate is made here you can learn about chocolate making process from the arrival of the cacao beans at the factory to the packaged chocolate product.
Here are all steps in the production of cacao and chocolate:
Cacao plant is best grown within 20 degrees of either side of the equator, with a lot of yearly rainfall and moderate temperatures (cacao tree cannot withstand temperature lower than 15C). Most common variety of cocoa is forastero, grown in Africa. The most expensive and rare is criollo from Centarl America.
Cacao pods that contain beans are removed from the tree with machete or club, and beans are separated from the pod and pulp. Beans are then exposed to microorganism that start fermentation process that last up to seven days. During this time the familiar taste of chocolate is created. After seven days beans are dried up, and transported to the manufacturing facility where they are cleaned, roasted and graded. Then, shells of beans are removed, and nibs are grounded and liquefied into chocolate liquor. That chocolate liquor is then processed into cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
To create chocolate recipe of choice, cocoa solids and cocoa butter are then mixed in a specific ratio. This basic blend can produce any type of dark, milk and white chocolate. Other agents are also introduced, such as emulsifying agent.
One of the last steps in the chocolate creation is conching process in which mix is kept warm by movement friction. This process removes all the traces of uneven and gritty textures, grinding the chocolate into fine grained state that can be easily detected by the taste receptor in our mouths. Conching process can last from 6 hours (for lesser grade chocolate) to 3 days (for high end chocolate).
At the end, liquid chocolate has to be solidified by uncontrolled crystallization. Melting temperature of chocolate is directly connected to the shape of its cocoa crystals. There are six types of them, and the melting temperatures can range from 17 °C to 36 °C.
Because chocolate is very sensitive to heat and humidity, manufacturers are storing it between 15-17 °C with 50% or less humidity.