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The Humble (or not so humble) Beginnings of the Cacao Bean.
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Unusual facts.....followed by suggestions for use.

  • The cacao pod fruit has a delicious pulp that tastes like apricots or melons and is a favourite of monkeys.
  • The pulp of the fruit was fermented into a native concoction called cacao chica and the beans fermented too thereby sweetening their taste and making them more palatable.  
  • The Mayans treasured cacao as a restorative, mood-enhancing cure-all. It became an integral part of their society, used in ceremonies, given as gifts and incorporated into their mythologies.
  • Burial tombs have been found that contain offerings, including ancient potteries that bear witness to cacao’s importance.  The vases are covered with paintings showing Mayan gods fighting over beans and kings waiting to be served cacao creations.
  • Chocolate plays a part in Mayan religion. The Mayan’s sacred book, Popul Vuh, contains their story of the creation, and instead of an apple tree, there’s a cacao tree.
  • The Mayans used cocoa beans as their form of currency. Thirty beans would buy you a chicken or a rabbit and a slave for about 100.
  • When the Spanish Conquistadors came to Emperor Montezuma’s temple they found records showing that he had over 40,000 loads of cacao beans in his store, which represents approximately 960,000,00 beans.
  • If you wanted to marry in Mayan culture you needed to offer over 350 beans as a dowry – an indication that you were serious and intent on marriage and a man of “means or beans”.
  • 1858 currency. The bean also was used as money in Central American markets long after the Aztecs were gone, as late as 1858.
  • Cacao Currency Fraud Forgery has been a popular scam for centuries – early civilizations did it with fake cacao beans.  A practice of passing bad cacao “coins” was in use in Pre-Columbian times. Forgers would take empty cacao shells, fill them with earth, reassemble them and palm them off as real.
  • Native currency or "coins" A list of Aztec trading prices looked something like this:

1 small rabbit = 30 cacao beans
1 turkey egg = 3 cacao beans
1 large tomato = 1 cacao bean

What to do with Cacao Beans?

Cacao Bean Almond Mylk

When making almond mylk drop a few beans or more in with the soaking almonds  and then strain and blend both of them up.  Strain through a nut mylk bag thereby removing the skins off both the almonds and cacao beans...then pour back into blender and add spices or vanilla and your favourite sweetener to arrive at your own raw, delicious chocolate almond mylk drink!

Hint: This Chocolate mylk could be used for the basis of recipes like  the Almond Mylk Chia Pudding.

Other Suggestions

  • Peel them with your fingernails or a knife. Soaking them in cold water for 30 minutes makes peeling easier then:
  • Eat them straight, one at a time instead of coffee as an energy booster and to increase alertness.
  • Drop them in and blend them with your smoothie.
  • Freeze a blend of cacao beans and a sweetener of your choice (agave, maple syrup, raw honey etc.). Eat cold
  • Crush and add to ice-cream for the healthiest chocolate chips you will ever taste!
  • Make your own chocolate bar or trail mix by blending/mixing with a sweetener/dried fruit and nuts/ seeds

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The cacao pod fruit has a delicious pulp that tastes like apricots or melons and is a favourite of monkeys.
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The Humble (or not so humble) Beginnings of the Cacao Bean.

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