Build a better chocolate
Some things just feel as though there is no improvement left in them. It is difficult for instance, to muster a cogent argument against the job that the sun is doing; the thermal, illuminatory, and gravitational efforts it has in place can hardly be argued with, at least as far as this little bluey-green orb we inhabit is concerned. Likewise, it is a harsh judge who finds fault with the current technology as it has been applied to socksâ€¦surely the things that go on our feet have no further improvement left in them? Perhaps more than socks or sun however, there are those who will tell you that there is no improvement to be made in chocolate but still we tinker adding various spices, fruits, and grains to the hallowed block. Now, in new research, we are told that what we really need to be adding to our chocolate, is yeast.
To understand the theory behind this we need to understand how chocolate gets to us. After the harvest cacao beans are placed in wooden boxes or, on some farms, simply piled on the ground. The beans at this point are surrounded by an inedible pulp that contains sugars, proteins, water, lignans, pectin, and hemicelluloses. Whatever microbes are present in the farm environment go to work on the pulp and ferment it. The nature of the microbes and the fermentation they cause influences the taste and nature of the resulting chocolate.
In this research the Belgian researchers wanted to find the microbes that would produce the best chocolate, which could be added immediately fermentation begins to overwhelm undesirable microbes.
So the researchers set about testing more than 1,000 strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast), to see which may have the best results. Some of the best strains were those that came from cacao farms but others that worked well were ones that came from the beer, wine, and sake industries. The key they found, was finding strains that could survive the high temperatures encountered during cacao fermentation, around 45-50 degrees Celsius.
The researchers cross-bred the most successful yeast strains and then applied them to cacao beans that were used to produce chocolate. The results were that on taste testing the chocolate made from these yeasts was consistently rated as more tasty than other chocolate. Plans, of course, are afoot to produce these tailor made chocolates for the market.
It seems that these yeasts really can make a better chocolate which qualifies them as yeasts of Eden.