For our final St. Lucia adventure and my favorite by far, we headed over to Hotel Chocolate, a Boucan Estate. They offer a Tree to Bar experience where we learned how the different cocoa beans grow, got to plant our own cocoa bean tree, then make our own bar of chocolate. This was such a unique experience! Today I am sharing Part 1: Tree to Bean Experience.
That’s my kind of Christmas tree!
We picked our own cocoa bean being careful to twist the bean off in order to preserve the stem so that it would sprout again. You preserve it by carefully twisting it. This allows the fruit to come off without ripping the stem. You know that its ready when it is large & bright yellow.
Many different fruits & vegetables are grown onsite in addition to the cocoa beans. They provide cover for the cocoas and supply the restaurant with fruits and vegetables which allow each dish to be fresh & locally prepared. The soursop tree fruit from the tippy top of those trees was the best! It looks prickly & scary, but it was delicious! I wish that I could find them here in California!
Cocoa beans are split open to get the fruit out. We got to taste the fruit. It was gooey on the outside and hard and bitter on the inside.
They are then wrapped in banana leaves and left to sit for days to generate heat.
The beans are then spread out to dry in the sun. The quality is checked by hand to ensure that only the best beans make it through. They huge trays of beans have tarps so that in case of sudden Caribbean shower, they can be quickly covered!