cacao

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cacao

(kəkä`ō, –kā`–), tropical tree (Theobroma cacao) of the family Sterculiaceae (sterculiasterculia
, common name for some members of the Sterculiaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and trees of tropical and subtropical regions. The most important members of the family are the cacao, source of cocoa and chocolate, and the cola, the caffeine-rich seeds of which are used
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 family), native to South America, where it was first domesticated and was highly prized by the Aztecs. It has been extensively cultivated in the Old World since the Spanish conquest. The fruit is a pod containing a sweetish pulp in which are embedded rows of seeds, the cocoa "beans" of commerce. To obtain cocoa, the harvested pods are fermented by naturally occurring bacteria and yeasts to eliminate their bitter, astringent quality. The seeds are then cured and roasted. The clean kernels, called cocoa nibs, are manufactured into various products. Their large percentage of fat, removed by pressure, is the so-called cocoa butter used in fine soaps and cosmetics and in medicine for emollients and suppositories; the residue is ground to a powder (cocoa) and used for beverages and flavoring. Chocolatechocolate,
general term for the products of the seeds of the cacao or chocolate tree, used for making beverages or confectionery. The flavor of chocolate depends not only on the quality of the cocoa nibs (the remainder after the seeds are fermented, dried, and roasted) and the
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 is a product in which the cocoa butter has been retained. Cacao products have a high food value because of the large proportion of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Cacao is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Malvales, family Sterculiaceae.

Cacao

 

(1) a plant of the genus Theobroma of the family Sterculiaceae and (2) the food product obtained from the seeds of that plant [in English, the term “cocoa” is more commonly used for the food product].

The seeds of cacao beans have a bitter astringent taste, which is caused by the presence of tanins and theobromine, and do not have the aroma and taste characteristic of chocolate products. The color of the beans ranges from violet to gray and white. In order to improve their flavor, freshly picked beans separated from the pulp are fermented for two to seven days. As a result of complex biochemical processes, the beans turn various shades of brown and acquire a pleasant aroma and taste. Next the beans are dried in the sun on plantations or are dried by heated air.

Cacao is a valuable food raw material. The average composition of the kernel (evaluation of the dry substance) is water, 4—6 percent; fat, cocoa butter, 51-54 percent; starch, 7-10 percent; glucose, fructose, 1-2 percent; protein, 10-12 percent; theobromine, caffeine, 1-1.5 percent; tannins, 4-7 percent; acids, 1-2 percent; and mineral substances, 2-3 percent.

After the beans are cleaned, sorted, and thermally treated, they are broken into nibs and finely ground to make ground cacao, which in turn is used to make cocoa butter and chocolate. Cocoa butter is made by pressing the ground cacao. The remaining cake is coarsely broken and pulverized to make cocoa powder, which is used to prepare the beverage cocoa.

cacao

[kə′kau̇]
(botany)
Theobroma cacao. A small tropical tree of the order Theales that bears capsular fruits which are a source of cocoa powder and chocolate. Also known as chocolate tree.

cacao

1. a small tropical American evergreen tree, Theobroma cacao, having yellowish flowers and reddish-brown seed pods from which cocoa and chocolate are prepared: family Sterculiaceae
2. cacao bean another name for cocoa bean
References in periodicals archive ?
It targets where to begin searching for cacao trees that may harbor new genes for disease tolerance or resistance.
The results of these authors also indicated wide variation in the demand for Zn between the varieties of cacao tree.
Cocoa harvesters use sharp, heavy machetes to cut pods from cacao trees, then to hack them open to get at the seeds.
By making the results publicly available, scientists will have access to key learnings to advance plant science, while plant breeders and farmers around the world will be able to develop cacao trees that are more sustainable, and can better fend off the environmental assaults that inflict $700 to $800 million in damages to farmers' crops each year.
In my visit to the Guaymi Indigenous reserve there were some minimal cacao trees associated with adjacent homes.
The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop their flavour.
In an attempt to grow more plants more quickly, cocoa farmers have started growing cacao trees in full sunlight and cutting down rainforests to do so.
Chocolate, by the way, is made from the fruit of the Cacao tree, a fragile plant that needs constant warmth and rainfall but no direct sunlight--and only can be found 20[degrees] north or south of the equator.
If it continues to show positive results it could be applied to cacao tree flowers to help shield the plant and its precious beans from fungal attack.
T IS made from the seeds of the cacao tree and the Aztecs used the seeds to make a hot frothy beverage reserved for warriors, nobility and priests These days it is still held in high esteem but eaten rather for its mouth watering quality than for any other reason.
Cocoa beans are produced by the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) and can only be grown 20 degrees from the equator (see "Enlightened Indulgence," Eating Right, July/August 2001).