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Very nearly all cocoa growers (with the exception of those owning some recent plantings in Indonesia, in particular in Sulawesi) fully ferment their cocoa. Unfermented or insufficiently fermented beans, such as those from Indonesia, have poor chocolate flavour and so are destined for cocoa butter extraction rather than for chocolate manufacture. Fermentation methods vary considerably from country to country and even from grower to grower, but there are basically two approaches: fermentation in a wooden box often adopted by larger growers and fermentation in a heap on the ground covered with banana leaves more frequently used by the smaller grower (see Figs 2.7 and 2.8). Season, ambient temperature, duration, size of boxes/heaps, amount of mixing (turning), presence of a cover or not, presence of drain-holes, etc. all require careful optimization; all are variable, subject to local influences and affect the final flavour quality of the dry cocoa.

Fermentation Boxes Cocoa

A cascade of fermentation boxes with moveable side walls. Source: Wood (3).

A cascade of fermentation boxes with moveable side walls. Source: Wood (3).

In general, Criollo beans require much shorter fermentations: 1 or 2 days as opposed to 56 days (or sometimes more) for Forastero types. Beans from South-East Asia almost always have a flavour with a high degree of acidity, at a level which is unacceptable to many chocolate manufacturers and can even require cocoa processors to include additional processing steps. This acidity in Malaysian cocoa (and others from South-East Asia) seems to be due to the presence of larger amounts of acetic and lactic acids, in turn due to the condition of the mucilage (in particular the quantity) present when the beans are fermented,

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