Love Chocolate? Grow a tree!

GROW YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE TREE INDOORS (EVEN IN COLD CLIMATES)

The first step in growing chocolate from seed is to crack open the seed pod, which is roughly 1 centimeter thick.  It takes a knife and quite a bit of elbow grease, so be careful with your fingers. Avoid cutting into the seeds, because they’re surprisingly soft, gummy and fragile.

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The most efficient way to clean and prepare the seeds is by placing them into your mouth and sucking off the white cacao nectar.  It’s sweet and fruity. (In the tropics, they ferment it into liquor)

For germination, the seeds want to be kept warm and moist.   In nature, cacao trees are a zone 10 plant, so they want to be kept warm, but room temperature, keeping them consistently between 65 and 70 degrees is sufficient for them to thrive.  They’re an under story plant, so filtered light indoors is actually ideal.

It takes 5-6 years from germination to see your first crop.  The flowers will appear directly out of the stem, and though the plant will produce hundreds of tiny flowers, only a few will actually go on to produce cacao pods even in ideal conditions.

The fruit will begin to form, and will grow slowly for 6 to 8 months.  Harvest happens in February or March for northern grown indoor cacao trees.

Be sure to have plenty of friends on hand for the harvest, to share in your success, and help you enjoy the sticky sweet cacao seed coating.  When you harvest, you can continue to propagate from the seeds, or you can try eating the fresh raw seeds themselves.  They have a unique flavor, and texture somewhat like a very firm grape or kiwi.

It really is a rare treat to get to enjoy your own fresh, raw chocolate from a homegrown tree.  Best of luck, and get growing!

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