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Spotlight On Spices! Issue January 2012 - Cacao-Cocoa "Food of the Gods"
January 12, 2012

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012 and another year of spicy living.

In trying to decide which spice would be an excellent candidate for being in this month’s spotlight, I considered what people seemed to be eating/drinking given the colder weather. It’s January and many are in the mood for hot cocoa and other similar hot tasty treats. Plus, considering next month’s upcoming celebration of Valentine’s Day and its chocolate highlights, I decided to do a two-month spread of …

THE SPICE OF LIFE - Cacao-Cocoa "Food of the Gods"

Cocoa-cacao is coveted by people all around the world. Annual world-wide production is over three million tons. There are many historical and trivia notes for cocoa, so let's start with a basic dictionary of cocoa terms, and continue in February with more in-depth information and links to delicious treats.


Cacao Tree - tropical tree that produces cocoa beans. Its Latin, botanical, name "Theobroma cacao" means "food of the gods." The average tree takes five years to produce its first pods, and then it will continue to produce pods for up to ten years.

Cocoa Pods - are the leather-like oval-shaped fruits of the cacao tree containing seeds ("beans").

Cocoa Bean - is the seed of the cacao tree's pods. It is only called a "bean" once it is removed from the pod.

Chocolate/Cocoa Nibs - the core/meat of the beans left after the shell is removed during the chocolate production process.

There are three major types of cocoa beans in the world:

Forestero Cocoa Beans - Most commonly grown and used. Over 90% of the world’s production are of this strain which are produced primarily in West Africa (Cote d’Ivoire).

Criollo Cocoa Beans - Premium strain grown primarily in the Central and South Americas.

Trinitario Cocoa Beans - Natural cross from varieties of Criollo and Forestero cocoa beans.

Chocolate Liquor - this liquid is obtained by grinding the cocoa nibs.

Natural Cocoa - Untreated cocoa having all of its natural acidity.

Dutch Processed - Process wherein the nib or liquor is treated with an alkali solution after roasting. This process reduces the acidity resulting in a mellower cocoa product. The name honors the Dutchman, C. J. Van Houten, who developed the process.

Conching - A step in the chocolate-making process wherein cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and sugar are blended, and then mixed under heat by large agitators, called "conches."

We'll continue in February ...


January is the Month for:

National Oatmeal Month

National Slow Cooking Month

National Soup Month

And, some of our favorite food days in the month include:

January 3 National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

January 4 National Spaghetti Day

January 10 National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

January 19 National Popcorn Day

January 20 National Cheese Lover's Day

January 22 National Blonde Brownie Day

January 23 National Pie Day

January 24 National Peanut Butter Day

January 28 National Blueberry Pancake Day

January 29 National Corn Chip Day

January 30 National Croissant Day


Check here for the latest news on any spice recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts:

Food ALERT! Widget


Websites for Spice Retailers:

Atlantic Spice Company -

Durkee® -

McCormick® -

Milford Spice Company -

Penzeys Spices -

Savory Spice Shop -

Spice Islands® -

The Spice House -

Spice Accessories Websites:

Bottles, Containers & Jars:

Bottle Store - -

SKS Bottle & Packaging, Inc. -


Online Labels -

Spice Racks:

Tubular Spices -

Spice Rack Source -

Check out our website that's All About Sweet Potatoes

How to Grow Potatoes

growing tomatoes


Tell us what you would love to see in our monthly eZine. We want to keep this publication fresh and relevant. We want to put a spotlight on the herbs and spices that are of the most interest to you.

Use our Contact Form to give us constructive feedback or ask questions. Thank you!

Ellen White

Eat Well. Live Well. Cook everyday with spices and herbs!

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