Cocoa, a sacred tree’s fruit for many distant civilizations, comes from America’s tropical forests, especially from Mexico. Used in Mayan rituals as a divine drink, cocoa was quickly passed from generation to generation.
Starting at the beginning of the 19th century, Asian and African populations were able to appreciate cocoa’s virtues. At the same time, cocoa production increased enormously from 1900 to 1990.
At its origin, cocoa has three great varieties of plants: Forastero, Trinitario and Criollo. In particular, it serves as the main ingredient in the manufacturing of chocolate.
The Origin of the Forastero Plantation
Forastero or “Foreigner” in Spanish was first discovered in the heart of the Amazon by Spanish conquistadors.
The Forastero cocoa group brings together a large number of varieties native to South America. It is also found in several regions from Ecuador to Guyana. Connoisseurs identify it as a very vigorous tree that resists various diseases. Also grown in West Africa and Brazil, Forastero cocoa seduces farmers with its unique characteristics.
Characteristics of the Forastero Variety
The Forastero tree usually has 30 to 40 cocoa beans per pod. It can be recognized by its smooth, yellow and green pods with a strong, acidic aroma. Its beans contain a high concentration of tannin. The beneficial characteristics of Forastero encouraged farmers to expand their plantation. Thus, this cocoa group now accounts for nearly 80% of world production. Due to its high profitability, the Forastero cocoa crop could expand further around the world.
On the other hand, Forastero cocoa beans contain large quantities of tannin. This high tannin content makes this cocoa’s quality rather average.
The Forastero variety also has many subgroups due to cross-breeding. The most appreciated cocoa which is considered to be of high quality is Ecuador’s National Chocolate.
For their part, African Amelonado cocoa trees also belong to the Forastero group and make up the cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Growing Conditions of the Forastero Variety
In order for the Forastero cocoa tree to grow normally and produce fruit abundantly, many natural factors intervene with more or less delicate interactions. The ideal temperature for planting cocoa trees, and especially of the Forastero variety, is around 24 ° C.
The growth and production of tropical plants generally requires favorable rainfall. And Forastero cocoa trees are particularly susceptible to water deficiency.
Because of their more bitter and sour taste, Forastero cocoa beans are usually used in the preparation of various chocolate recipes (mixed with flavors such as Chuao, Ceylon, etc.), drinks, ice cream, candy, and pastries.