After many years of reading about Cocoa plantations and finally launching Dello Mano, I pinched myself as I stood there in Ghana amidst the beauty of the dapple rainforest light, gorgeous little Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Trees) and the most amazing rainforest floor (what I would give for that lovely mulch in my home garden!). Although par for the course, it is sweltering - very hot and very humid. Apparently with the wet season coming, the humidity was set to rise, so I'm grateful to be ahead of anything more extreme than what we experience that day. Still heat and humidity aside, it was fantastic to actually be there experiencing the beginning of the Chocolate trail.
The cocoa pods vary in colour from an earthy green through orange and pink. I was amazed at how beautiful some of them are as they hang almost precariously from the trunk of the trees (Cocoa Trees are one of the few trees in the world that bear their crop on their trunk). One little thing I did learn that was different to what I had imagined, the crops are planted in a very organic way. Meaning to say that they are not lined up in any order but rather meander around the larger canopy trees making for really natural and quaint farms. The pretty pink, red and orange pods are from the original trees and look amazing under the canopy although we were told that these are very susceptible to disease and infestation.
Much work has been done to develop new hybrids of trees resulting in more efficient growth of the pods at the farm - although not as pretty to look at.
It's so hard to imagine that the whole chocolate story starts here with this tiny little fragile flower (below). Reliant upon pollination and very delicate this little flower is the beginning of the chocolate story. As you can imagine, so many flowers are lost along the development to cocoa pod.
When ripe, the pods are harvested by cutting them from the tree usually with a long knife on a stick. The pod is then cut and split to reveal a fruity, almost meaty and pulpy centre.
We tasted the surrounding pulp and it actually tasted great! A little like lychee I thought.
This is the little bean after removing the pulp around it.
And very importantly this is morning tea on the farm :)
The smallest most delicate flowers tucked away in this gorgeous rainforest seem so far away from making it to the chocolate we all love.
and then still further to finally this - the best brownies found at Dello Mano:)