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What’s your favourite type of chocolate? Have you ever wondered how it came to be? VCC instructor Caroline Griffiths shares a few flavourful facts ahead of her new evening course, Introduction to Chocolate, starting March 20.
The cocoa bean originated in Mexico (Mesoamerica), and was cultivated by Indigenous peoples for use in beverages and other rituals as far back as 1900 BC. In 1502, Christopher Columbus was the first European to find cocoa beans but he didn’t recognize their value at first, calling them “almonds.”
Cocoa consumption soon caught on in Europe, however, and by 1580, the first chocolate factory opened in Spain. In 1617, chocolate was produced for the first time in Switzerland, and by 1679, France was manufacturing chocolate as well. It was Daniel Peter of Vevey, Switzerland who invented milk chocolate in 1865.
Cocoa production today
Today, the Ivory Coast supplies 30 per cent of the world’s total cocoa, leading the rest of the world by over half a million metric tons with a total crop of 1,448,992 tonnes. Ghana has the second largest cocoa plantation in the world.
A tropical environment with an average temperature of 26 to 28°C and high humidity is required to grow cocoa. The trees take about three years to produce fruit, and for the first few years, the young trees need to be grown under cover. The cocoa flower buds only remain open for four days and it takes about five months from a flower being pollinated to develop into a fully ripe pod.
Know your chocolate
Do you know what the shelf life for chocolate is? For both white and milk chocolate it’s six to eight months. Dark chocolate can last for up to a year. Also, chocolate with fat content below 33 per cent is best suited for decorations, dessert mousses, shavings, and ganaches while chocolate with fats above 33 per cent is best suited for desserts, fillings, enrobing, and molding.
Ready to learn more? Registration is now open for VCC’s new Introduction to Chocolate course. Join us Wednesday evenings starting March 20 to learn top techniques for working with one of the world’s favourite and most in-demands foods.
Other new VCC Continuing Studies courses starting in Spring 2019 include:
Baking and Hospitality
Early Childhood Care and Education
Building Service Management