5 Handy Uses of Cacao Pod
Grown on the cacao belt (equator) around the world, the cacao pod is a type of fruit that comes from the Theobroma (Cacao) tree. Cacao beans come from inside the pods, and are used to make one of the worlds most favourite foods; chocolate. The uses for this fruit range from culinary uses, such as adding it to other ingredients in recipes, making smoothies or eating them raw, to medicinal uses like tea and even skin care products. Right, let’s explore ten different uses for cacao pod!
Hang On, What’s Cacao Fruit?!
Cacao fruit is the whole pod you see that grows from the branches of the Theobroma tree. The white fleshy edible part of a cacao pod that surrounds the individual beans are found when you crack it open. Whilst widely unknown, this is often used in chocolate and cocoa products and has a uniquely citrusy flavour that is enjoyed by local farmers and natives. The natural fats inside the beans themselves, most commonly known as cacao butter, is widely used too, as well as the rest of the entire pod…
Both cacao fruit and other cacao derivatives are used by many different companies to produce beneficial and interesting skincare products. Cacao is a great ingredient to use in skincare for numerous reasons. For example, cacao is antioxidant rich, this is a great quality as antioxidants can help combat free radical damage. This preserves the youthful quality of your skin. Cacao derivatives, such as the popular cacao butter, are also great at hydrating skin. They take care of the layers of skin on your face by protecting the skin barriers and preventing water loss. Meaning your skin stays hydrated for longer! This is a little taster of the amazing benefits cacao has to offer when added to your skincare routine. And they smell amazing, added bonus.
Okay, so it’s no secret that Brits are crazy about tea. But, did you know that tea can be made from cacao? The tea is made from the cacao husks, the hard, flakey outer casing of the cacao beans. They’re soaked and steeped so as to enhance the natural flavours and produce a great tasting tea. It has a characteristically chocolatey scent and also has a chocolatey taste that is often accompanied by other popular ingredients such as cinnamon and sometimes liquorice. Yum.
Cacao wine was popular among the Aztecs, especially Emperor Moctezuma, who it has been said that he often drank copious amounts during ceremonial feasts. This drink had sacrificial and religious ties, but also tasted great! This is why it is making a recent comeback. Cacao wine is made by separating the beans from the cacao fruit and allowing the fruit to ferment. The fruit is left to ferment for between one to eight days. This boozy delicacy is often brewed until it reaches the same percentage as beer (5-8%). If you want the taste of chocolate with a unique twist, why not brew your own cacao wine. Or, if you want an easy life, there are a few varieties available on popular online retailers.
4. Compost & Feed
Okay, okay, so this may not be a glamorous use of cacao, but it IS super helpful! Many farmers use cacao as a way of adding nutrients back into their farmlands and enriching the soil. Micro-organisms in the soil break down cacao husks and the result is nutrient rich soil, perfect for growing more crops and more cacao trees. Cacao Husks provide extra goodness such as phosphate and nitrogen. This is definitely not a well known use of cacao, but it is definitely a super important one in terms of food and agriculture.
5. Mayan Hot Chocolate
Of course, we had to leave you with an amazing chocolatey delicacy. It has been long understood that the Mayans and Aztecs had a major love affair with cacao. This enduring recipe and speciality has stood the test of time, showing how extremely tasty it is! Mayan Hot Chocolate is really simple to make. It is a mix of hot chocolate flakes or cocoa powder with a dash of cinnamon and a small pinch of either cayenne pepper or chilli powder (depending on your spice preference!). This sweetly spicy drink is sure to warm you up on those colder days ahead!