Red cacao, the evergreen fruiting tree native to South and Central America, is the chocolate-lover’s dream plant. A member of the Malvaceae family, it is related to Cotton and Durian, and grows best in rich soil. Its cultivation famously dates back at least 4,000 years ago, when the indigenous people in Mesoamerica harvested it for use in ceremonies, medicine, and cooking. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Theobroma cacao. Cacao crops are cultivated on a global level to produce the world’s cocoa supply.
Red cacao is just one variety of Theobroma cacao which produces uniquely crimson fruits. Yellow Cacao, its family member, produces a similar fruit with a golden exterior. The taste of the raw cacao pulp brings a fruity, tropical sensation, while the beans – the part used for chocolate – bring a bitter crunch which preferably ferments and gets roasted to extract the flavors which most associate with chocolate.
Your Cacao tree will feel at home in an environment most like it’s native tropical rain forests. Long summers and pampered days of tropical-level humidity will get Theobroma cacao to produce fruit prolifically. Embrace the peculiarities of the cacao plant, and prepare to yield success as a powerful shaman, or artisan chocolatier!
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