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Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)

Kakao or cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is a perennial plant species in Malvaceae in the tropics, in the form of a tree 10 m high but in cultivation it will be limited to only 5 m to expand the canopy and multiply branches so that more fruit grows where the seeds are processed as chocolate.

T. cacao has flowers like other Sterculiaceae members that grow directly from the stem, perfect and single flowers, 3 cm in diameter, but appear in panicles because often a bunch of flowers emerges from a single bud.

Dlium Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)

The flowers are white and are ready to be pollinated within a few days especially by the Forcipomyia fly, winged ants, aphids and some Trigona bees which usually occur at night. The main pests of this plant are Bactrocera carambolae and Bactrocera papayae.

Cacao trees generally cross-pollinate and have their own incompatibilities, but some varieties are capable of self-pollinating and produce higher-selling commodity types.

The fruit grows from pollinated flowers, has a fruit size much larger than the flower and is round to elongated. The fruit consists of five lines and the space where seeds grow. Young fruit is green to purple, but the outer skin is usually yellow when ripe.

Seeds arranged on the placenta that grow from the base of the fruit on the inside. The seeds are black and protected by soft white aryl. Endospermia contains high levels of fat. Pulp is generally fermented for three days then the seeds are dried in the sun.

Cocoa likes shade with a potential yield of 50-120 fruits/tree/year. It often grows in clumps along the river bank where the roots may be inundated for a long time in a year. It grows at an altitude of 300 meters with rainfall of 1000 to 3000 mm/year.

In general, cacao trees start to bear fruit and are harvested when they are 4-5 years old. Mature trees may have 6000 flowers a year, but only produce about 20. About 300-600 seeds from about 10 fruits are needed to produce 1 kg of cocoa paste.

T. cacao has three varieties. Forastero grows in the lowlands, has harder seeds and cheaper prices on the market, Criolo or fine cocoa can be planted in higher, rarest and most valuable plains. Trinitario or hybrids from Forastero and Criolo.

Trinitario has a high productivity character, quickly undergoes a generative phase after the age of 2 years, is resistant to VSD (Vascular Streak Dieback), harvests throughout the year, fermentation is only 6 days, controls market share and has a preferred chocolate flavor.

The beans are fermented to produce cocoa butter and powder. The distinctive taste of chocolate develops during the fermentation process. Chocolate contains large amounts of polyphenols, especially flavonoids such as flavan-3-ols which are responsible for bitterness and astringence in raw cocoa beans. Polyphenols can be found in such high quantities that raw seeds cannot be eaten.

Cocoa powder is an ingredient for making cakes, ice cream, snacks, milk and others. The character of the chocolate flavor is savory with a distinctive aroma so that it is liked by many people especially children and teenagers. The Indonesian National Standardization Agency has issued rules on standardization of chocolate and chocolate products for SNI 7934:2014 code.

Cocoa flavonoids and their derivatives are very useful for the prevention of cardiovascular and degenerative disorders, antioxidants are protective against free radicals and other degenerative species prevent LDL oxidation, modulate vascular homeostasis, and inhibit platelet aggregation.

The metabolomic study that can be done is to determine the quality of cocoa beans from each variety in terms of the metabolites it produces. In addition, metabolomic studies can also be carried out to optimize the fermentation process that produces quality cocoa beans when viewed in terms of metabolites and their relationship to the chocolate flavor they produce.

Cocoa beans have 45-53.2% fat in the form of cocoa butter consisting of various fatty acids. Cocoa beans contain up to 10% phenols and flavenoids which are antioxidants that have the potential to inhibit cancer or cardiovascular disease, as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Also contains 1-3% theobromine and caffeine, alkaloids which stimulate the central nervous system.

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Theobroma
Species: T. cacao



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