5 Handy Uses of the Cacao Pod
Grown on the cacao belt all around the world, the cacao pod is a type of fruit that comes from the Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao beans come from inside these 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. It 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. A great property, 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!
Another amazing benefit of cacao, comes from its rich flavanol content. When used in skincare, cacao can protect your skin against the weather and other environmental conditions that may make your skin stressed out.
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, flaky outer casing of the cacao beans. They’re soaked and steeped so as to enhance the natural flavours, producing a great tasting tea.
Cacao is bursting with goodness and nutrients, this includes vitamins C and E. Vitamin C assists your immune system and memory, as well as aiding your blood pressure and your cardiovascular system. Vitamin E is a really amazing antioxidant that protects your body’s cells and is really helpful at providing relief and regeneration for your skin, especially skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema.
Not only is it delicious to drink, it has high levels of magnesium and iron that aid focus, bone health and even low mood. Unlike most popular black tea varieties, cacao tea is caffeine free, so it’s perfect to sip and enjoy just before you drift off to sleep. No worries of a restless night!The tea has a characteristically chocolatey scent and also has a light cacao 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 Montezuma. 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. Originally, the cacao pods were allowed to ferment and a boozy drink was made from the cacao fruit. However, as generations passed, South Americans realised that cacao beans made a nicer wine and switched from fruit to bean.
The 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. In using the cacao husks, they are completely organic, so no worries about causing any harm to your crops. It has also been reported that using cacao in fertilisers can help to protect against black pod disease. Protecting both the health of your crops and your pocket!
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. Usually reserved for nobility and the wealthy, cacao was a luxury. The only exception to this rule applied to warriors. Before going into battle, warriors were served this cacao concoction as a way of gaining strength and energy. This enduring love for all things cacao, especially hot chocolate, has stood the test of time. Just 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.
We hope these handy uses of cacao have inspired you to come up with a few concoctions yourself!
Check out our range of organic raw chocolate bars at mrpoppleschocolate.co.uk