Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Thu 5 Mar 2015 03:41
|Dear Family and Friends,|
Somehow I think some photos blogs got repeated and this one was missed out altogether.
These photos are from the Belmont Cocoa Estate, Grenada which supplies Lindt and many other Belgium and Swiss chocolate companies with organic cocoa, from its 150 acres of cocoa trees.
The cocoa trees grow all year so there is not a season for cocoa pods, which are yellow when ripe,. They will not fall from the tree when ripe so they are picked by farm workers with a long pole and cutter. The pods are opened and the beans are collected and taken to the estate for processing. In the above photo, they are packed in wooden bins, between banana leaves and topped with jute sacking. They are turned into the next bin every 2 days to aerate them, spending 6-8 days fermenting.
Once fermented, the beans are spread on drying beds on rails that can be run into shelter if it rains.
Walking the beans! To ensure an even drying process, workers walk thorough the beans, turning them with their feet. In the past, there was also a colourful dance to drums that the workers used to perform, pounding the beans with their feet in a large metal bowl which polished the beans, ready for sale. Replaced of course by machines these days! Once the beans have reached 7.5% moisture content they are sent to the Belmont Chocolate factory to be roasted, ground and tempered. The tempering process involves, pressing through rollers, heating and cooling the ground cocoa. The cocoa contains several fats with differing melting points, tempering homogenises theses, creating liquid and workable chocolate at cool temperatures. White chocolate is of course the separated cocoa butter.
Their chocolate was for sale, at 60 - 100% cocoa solids, needless to say 100% is bitter, not sweet at all, and best for dessert flavouring.
As part of our tour we were served an excellent hot chocolate, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, really lovely, we should serve this in the UK! All this was followed by lunch at the estate listening to a good live Caribbean band. If you are in Grenada, this trip is worth doing!
Not a ruin but the River Antoine rum distillery. This overshot water wheeel drive the cane crushing machine, built in Derby Uk, installed arounf 1785 and still working which is probably more thab can be said for the company that built it! Goats optional extras.
Cane threshing machine driven by the water wheel. Unbelievably very little changed in over 200 years.
Large cane sugar boiling pans, wood fires beneath. Syrup is transferred from one pan to the next via the long handled “spoon” you can see in the distance, concentrating the syrup in each successive pan.
The syrup is transferred to fermentation vats and then distilled in Kentucky stills.
These are the rum stills, tendered around the cloak by the rum workers to ensure the temperatures are maintained. Fascinating as it was it is a far cry from European standards of hygiene, perhaps the process added its own flavour. The spirit is aged in barrels before being bottled.
All very interesting, would not have missed it for the world!
All our best,
Lynne and Alan