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Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)

Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)

With a height of "only" 15 meters, the evergreen cacao tree belongs to the undergrowth in the Amazon jungle. It likes it shady, roots only shallowly and needs neighboring trees to support it; even at maximum size, its trunk remains thin. Throughout the year, yellowish to reddish flowers appear directly on the trunk and on the thicker branches, where the yellowbrauncacao fruits, about 30 centimeters long, also ripen. Embedded in their flesh are five rows of seeds - the cocoa beans.

Origin and cultivation.

As early as 1,100 B.C., the Olmecs on the Gulf of Mexico were already using cocoa; it came to the Mayas via trade routes and only in the 14th century to the Aztecs of Central America. They called it "xocoatl" - bitter water. Today, cocoa comes mainly from the Ivory Coast and Ghana, as well as Indonesia. After harvesting, the cocoa fruits are broken open and the cocoa beans are fermented, dried and roasted; it is only through this treatment that they acquire their characteristic aroma and black color. By grinding and pressing the beans treated in this way, the valuable cocoa butter is obtained.


A good half of the cocoa bean consists of a pale yellow fat that becomes liquid at body temperature - cocoa butter. Due to its high content of saturated fatty acids, it has a shelf life of up to two years, but is not highly recommended for cooking. In cosmetics, on the other hand, its best properties come into their own: it is quickly absorbed and makes the skin supple without leaving a greasy film on it. Last but not least, it gives cosmetic products a pleasant smell faintly reminiscent of cocoa.

Use of the cocoa butter.

Cocoa butterCocoa butter
  • Cocoa butter is used as an ingredient or base for cosmetics, soaps and ointments and leaves the skin feeling soft
  • as an additive in lotions, creams, bath additives and lip care products, it cares for dry and chapped skin. It performs particularly well in anti-wrinkle creams. Cocoa butter is less suitable for oily skin
  • Cocoa butter on the skin repels insects.
This is what you should pay attention to when using cocoa.
  • In the past, cocoa was offered in small quantities in pharmacies as a tonic, but only later did it establish itself as a stimulant. One reason for this is probably its mood-lifting and stimulating effect. Among other things, the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine are responsible for this.
  • For dogs (and cats, but they are not easily enticed by cocoa), theobromine is harmful even in small quantities. So with a piece of chocolate, you're doing yourself a favor, but not your housemates.

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