Hello and good day!
Take a look at the photo. That is what cacao mucilage run off looks like at the end of the day in our cacao processing facility. Cacao mucilage is the sugary, citrusy, white gel that surrounds cacao seeds inside the pod.
It is the magic ingredient that makes chocolate taste like chocolate.
The sugar in this gel makes fermentation possible. And fermentation is what develops chocolate's flavors and aromas. Cacao straight out of the pod, pre-fermentation, tastes nothing at all like chocolate.
The mucilage drips down and out of the bottom of the wooden boxes we use for cacao processing. We put receptacles underneath and catch the run off. At the end of every day, different team members take the run off home to their families to drink and use in cooking. Also, throughout the day, if the team is thirsty, we grab cups and scoop a drink straight out of the trays and buckets we use to collect run off.
Cacao nectar, which is what we call mucilage when it is in a liquid state, is one of the most naturally delicious and refreshing drinks that you will ever taste. It is chalked full of vitamin c. It is thick, almost like a smoothie, but about 20% thinner.
in campo we use it to make frozen popsicles.
It can be rendered down over heat into a sweet, tart, concentrate that has many applications for cooking. We've sent rendered cacao mucilage to several of the chefs who use our chocolate over the years and all have wanted to purchase it to use in their kitchens.
But we just don't have the infrastructure, or desire really, to produce it on a large scale. It is delicious though.
Cacao nectar can be frozen into the most delicious popsicle.
We give away a lot of cacao nectar to a local small business woman who freezes the nectar into popsicles, which she sells. All we ask is that she bring a couple of popsicles for each of our team members to enjoy anytime she makes popsicles.
These are very refreshing out in the jungle heat, and especially so when you've been working hard in the cacao facility. Cacao mucilage can be fermented into a good booze.
We explored a booze project many years ago, but it was a non starter. The infrastructure needed to make booze on a large scale was too intensive. The electricity isn't good enough out where we operate and the location is too remote.
It is best to drink cacao mucilage quickly, because of the fermentation. The second day, cacao nectar starts to get fizzy. This may be the absolute best day to drink it.It still doesn't taste like vinegar yet and you get the fizzy bubbles. It is a natural, lemon lime soda.
Back in the day, in our very first processing facility, back when my brother Brian had very little experience with cacao mucilage, he accidentally caused a pretty decent explosion.
At that time, my brother Brian and my brother in law, Miguel, were the only two employees of the company. This is 15 years ago.
They were living in a single room, sharing bunk beds. It was a sun baked concrete room that did not breathe well, and it was hot all the time in there. The room was next to a space that had previously been used as an old parking lot.
They hired a local carpenter to build some rudimentary fermentation boxes and dryer beds. At this time, it was all testing.
Brian and Miguel drove out to farms on motorcycles and brought back small loads of cacao. They did this for over a year, testing and testing and testing. Just a couple of guys out in a remote agricultural area in northern Peru, trying to figure it out.
Anyhow, they thought it would be interesting to poor a bunch of cacao mucilage into plastic bottles and then seal the bottle closed with caps and see what would happen. They knew the mucilage would ferment, but they didn't exactly know what that would mean. They had all of these bottles filled up and sitting on a bed stand next to their bunk beds.
By the way, my brother was 37 at the time and my brother in law was 20. The company wasn't making any money at all. We didn't even have a product to sell. We were just trying to figure it out.
Brian was drawing a meagre stipend to support his wife and new born daughter. So there they were, these two grown men, sleeping in bunk beds, Miguel on top and Brian on the bottom.The room was so small that bunk beds were the only way to get two people in there sleeping together.
In the middle of the night, they started to hear explosions, one after the other, like fireworks. They had about ten bottles on the nightstand and there were ten pops.
The noise startled them out of their sleep and, still groggy, they tried to figure out what was going on. The bottles were missing their caps and the mucilage was foaming over the rims of the bottles and running down the sides.
To see at night, the guys used head lamps because there wasn't a light in the little room. Miguel looked up and saw ten stains on the ceiling.
Then he looked down and saw ten blue caps on the concrete floor. Brian looked up and down with his headlamp as well.
And there they were, two grown men, standing right next to each other in a small concrete room, at night, with head lamps on, looking up and down at the concrete ceiling and the concrete floor, realizing that their cacao mucilage bottles had exploded. It wasn't realistic to clean it up at night, so they got back in bed, turned off their headlamps, and went back to sleep.
They learned a good lesson that day.
You don't leave cacao nectar in sealed bottles, in your room, on a bed stand, next to your bunk beds, for more than a couple of days. .
It is much better to drink cacao nectar on day one or day two. After that you either need to freeze it, render it, or intentionally follow through on the process to make booze.
Otherwise, it will explode, and if you have the bottle in your room, it will startle you awake. We learned this lesson the hard way.
Anyhow, thank you so much for your time today.One last thing, the gentleman in the photo is our wonderful team member Omar.
I hope at you have a truly blessed day!