Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The history and origin of chocolate

The origins of chocolate are very old, usually traced back to the Maya people, who were probably the first to cultivate the cacao plant, in 400 AD. They discovered that the seeds could be roasted, ground, and eaten. Maya Indians had created a chocolate drink by combining cocoa powder with water and spices.

The plant known today is the result of crossing and selection that had already started 35,000 years ago. Cocoa was first discovered by Europeans in South America. The Aztecs traditionally itself the seeds of the Theobroma cacao to make a drink by extracting the seeds from the cocoa pod and fermenting, drying and grinding them; the powder was then mixed with water. The Aztecs believed that the god Quetzalcoatl came to Earth on rays of light from the Star of the Morning,

In 1502, the first meeting of Western civilization with cocoa occurred: Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Guanaja, Honduras, and received the gift of a cup of chocolate.

It was cocoa as a drink that was imported by the Spaniards into Europe in the seventeenth century. A Spanish explorer by the name of Hernando Cortez helped Europeans begin to see that there was value in cacao beans. The great Aztec ruler Montezuma had served Cortez a drink made from cacao beans.

Until the 1600s and 1700s, chocolate was a luxury food for royalty and powerful church officials. But during the 1600s, people began grinding large amounts of cacao beans in mills, producing much more chocolate and lowering the cost. Starting from 1660, the drinking of hot sweet chocolate was spread across Europe: Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, and also Austria and Italy. In 1815, Van Houten developed a process for pressing a proportion of the fat from the dried powder in order to make it more palatable: at about 50% fat, the drink made from untreated cocoa must have been very heavy. Modern drinking cocoas, by contrast, contain only 20% or less of fat.

At first, the expressed cocoa butter must have been a troublesome by product with relatively low value. But by mixing the cocoa butter back with unpressed cocoa and sugar, it was possible to make an entirely new product, namely solid chocolate for eating. In 1875 milk chocolate made by Swiss Daniel Peter with condensed milk powder from Nestle Henry.
The history and origin of chocolate
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