Have you heard the term raw chocolate before, but are not totally sure what it is? Here’s a guide to help you understand more.
What is raw chocolate?
Raw chocolate, also colloquially referred to as raw cacao, is made from cacao beans that are unroasted or only processed at very low temperatures resulting in a more natural and less processed form of chocolate compared to typical chocolate-making processes, meaning it undergoes additional processing losing some of the national value along the way.
How is it made?
Seeds are taken from inside the pods of the Theobroma Cacao Tree. The name Theobroma is derived from the Greek for "food of the gods"; "theos" meaning 'god' or 'divine', and "broma" meaning 'food'. Each pod is ovoid in shape, around 15 to 30cm long and 8 to 10cm wide, ripens to a yellow or orange colour, weighs about 500 grams, and contains 20 to 60 seeds which are commonly called cacao beans.
Did you know?
The largest producer of cocoa beans in 2018 was Ivory Coast, at 2.2 million tons (37% of the global total). Other major producers were Ghana (18%) and Indonesia (11%).
The typical process for using the beans is that after they are harvested, they are then fermented and dried. At this stage, Cacao Nibs can be produced, but to make raw chocolate the process continues by grinding beans into a paste (called cacao liquor or chocolate liquor) which is pressed to separate the cacao butter (the natural fat in the cacao beans) from the cacao solids.
These solids can be further processed into cacao powder or used directly in chocolate-making. The beans are not roasted at any point during the process as this can significantly alter the flavour and nutrient composition of the final product.
Why is it better?
Raw chocolate is very popular with people following the raw food movement, as it is believed to retain more of the natural nutrients and enzymes found in cacao beans compared to conventionally processed chocolate, and has been linked with the ability to lower blood pressure and improve cognitive function. It also has high magnesium content, which is important for muscle and nerve function, and its ability to increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce stress. It has a distinct, intense flavour which some may find to be slightly more bitter but also fruity, and is often used in various recipes such as Raw Chocolate Energy Balls or simply used in desserts and smoothies to give flavour.
Raw Chocolate products that we sell at The Bare Alternative
Salted Vanoffee Cashews
Raw Chocolate Coated Almonds
Salted Raw Chocolate Hazelnuts
Raw Chocolate Coated Orange Figs
The Raw Chocolate Co Ginger & Hazelnut / Fruit & Nut Mix Gift Tubes
A final note
It's important to note that while raw chocolate may offer certain nutritional benefits, such as higher levels of antioxidants, it should still be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, as it is calorie-dense and can be high in fat and sugar, depending on how it is prepared.
There are also many ethical considerations around chocolate production, such as the sustainability of the production and working conditions. By its nature, raw chocolate is less processed and passes through fewer stages where unethical practices can happen. When choosing the brand for raw chocolate it is still important to make informed purchasing choices, for example, by checking that the manufacturers and producers are paying fair wages to employees or for the produce that has been grown, and look out for Fairtrade or organic certifications which will also reduce the environmental impact of your purchase.