HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is most known for growing coffee and pineapples; however, what is surprising to most, Hawaii is the only state that can grow chocolate as it all starts from a tree.
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Locally sourced chocolate companies:
- Manoa Chocolate
- Lonohana Estate Chocolate
- Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate
- Waialua Chocolate
Lonohana Estate Chocolate explains their process of growing chocolate. Click here to see photos.
On the farm at Lonohana, they try to harvest the cocao beans at peek ripeness “in order to capture their full potential.”
Depending on the year, harvest will start between February and May and will take about three months.
There are typically 50 to 100 pods throughout a season on the cacao tree that will reach ripeness all at different points, according to Lonohana Estate Chocolate. “By only picking a pod at perfect ripeness do we have the best chance to capture the full flavor development and not risk having a single bean that is either under ripe or past its prime.” Lonohana Estate Chocolate
After picking a ripe pod, it is cracked with a hand machete where about 50 beans held together by white fibrous material is then extracted. According to Lonohana Estate Chocolate, “They actually look much like a brain when they come out.”
Fermentation impacts the overall acidity by placing the wet beans into a wood box.
Lonohana Estate Chocolate uses handmade mahogany wood boxes that get up to 130 degrees.
The company would describe this phase as telling the seed, “You’re done. You’re never going to grow into a tree.”
During fermentation, the white fibrous material turns into liquid; and the seeds turn brown after about five days.
After fermentation is done, the seed is left moist and sticky, according to Lonohana Estate Chocolate.
The beans are then spread out on drying racks in a greenhouse for a period of four to six days.
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The fermentation and drying process has to be done with precise care or the batch could be ruined.
For more information on the process of growing chocolate, click here.