Tales of Cocoa and Cocoy

Everywhere we look are trees full of fruit.  We expected palm trees with coconuts and banana trees.  These are leading exports for the island.

Bananas on a plantation

The blue bags keep bugs from marring the surface of the bananas.

The blue bags keep bugs from marring the surface of the bananas.

We’d even heard about abundant mangoes and papaya.

Mangoes

Grapefruit and oranges growing in the rain forest were a pleasant surprise.  So were the coffee trees, limes, and cocoa pods.  As in chocolate growing on a tree.  Well, almost.

On an early hike, our guide picked us two cocoa pods to take home.  He told us to break open the pods and suck on the seeds.  Sounded interesting.

Cocoa pods (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Turns out the pods taste great — a lovely sweet and sour flavor.

Trying cocoa seeds

What we really want to do, however, is try to make our own chocolate.  The first step is to let the white membrane around the seed (which becomes the chocolate) ferment for a week. Step one is currently underway.  Then we will dry the seeds in the sun, crack them, and try to use our handy propane oven to roast the nibs.  Then on to crushing them and pressing out the cocoa butter.  If we succeed that far, we can add a little sugar and make cocoa or melt it all together and make chocolate.  So goes February’s science unit.

We’ve learned there are three general types of bananas:  dessert bananas, plantains, and cocoys.  So when we could try cocoy, of course we did.

The yield from the Market, Portsmouth, Dominica

The yield from the Market, Portsmouth, Dominica

Grilled cocoy tastes great.  So does fried cocoy.  So do the fresh grapefruit and oranges.  Next up to try are tannia roots (apparently like yams or potatoes) and christophene (a type of squash).  It has been fun to shop and eat in Dominica.

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