Criollo and Trinatario cacao prefer to be grown near the Equator, which makes Peru an ideal growing region. The trees take root in lush soils, reach up to 40 ft. in height and around three years of age start producing their distinct floral smelling pods. The pods are harvested when mature and range in color from light to medium shades of purple. Each pod is split open to reveal dozens of little beans, coated in thick white, sweet pulp. To avoid germination, the beans are placed in special boxes, where microorganisms react with the sweet pulp, initiating the fermentation and heating up the beans. Over the next five days, a series of reactions occur, causing the pulp to break down, heat up and ultimately cure the bean. This process breaks down the bean’s cell wall and results in chemical changes that are responsible for the development of exceptional flavor, color and nutrient availability.
After the fermentation process, the beans are rinsed off, laid flat, and rotated frequently to promote even drying. Most companies will roast the beans which compromises many of the natural flavor and nutrients the plant took so long to develop. We believe these flavors and nutrients are important and something to be enjoyed, so instead of roasting, we remove the shell and gently crush the bean into nibs.
Peruvian cacao nibs have a strong cocoa scent, can be used in snacks, baked goods or eaten by themselves for a healthy dark chocolate crunch.