This is the wonderful cacao flower, one of thousands that will erupt from seemingly anywhere on a cacao tree. They are only about the size of a five pence piece. And they only last 24 hours. If they are not pollinated in that time they wither away.
Cacao has no ‘season’ as such and flowers appear all year round. Each tree will only produce about 30 pods per year and typically 750 pods in it’s lifetime.
Each pod will have about 40 beans in it, enough for one chocolate bar.
The tree can only flourish in the shade of other trees and can only grow in a band 10 degrees north or south of the equator.
The best quality cacao comes from the hardest trees to manage – they are so delicate that harvesting cannot be mechanised – even machinery passing over the roots of the tree can damage it and kill it.
It’s no wonder then that cacao is a pretty amazing substance. We’ll look more into this later this week, watch this space 🙂