The Improbable Making and Chemistry of Chocolate

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_23742" align="alignright" width="480"] Cacao pods contain the makings of chocolate, but the contents must first go through a fermentation and drying process. Image by Medicaster.[/caption] Some years ago, some made the claim that genuine chocolate isn’t ‘good for you’. They made the claim that artificial chocolate made from carob beans is superior. Curiously, so-called dog chocolate was already made from carob... Thank goodness, science now concedes that chocolate is not all that bad; most of us can eat and enjoy at least some chocolate. And now that we know it’s OK to eat chocolate – and it may even be good for us – did you ever wonder: How do we make cocoa from cacao, and what is the chemistry behind this treat? Chocolate Chemistry: The Cacao Bean The…
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The Northern Catalpa in Southern Virginia

[caption id="attachment_20110" align="alignright" width="440"] Photo courtesy C. Mehring[/caption] The blooming peak of the Northern Catalpa in Nelson County, Virginia is about the 24th May. Although some call it the Catawba tree, in these parts it is called the Monkey’s Cigar tree. This is because of its elongated dark brown pods. I well remember my becoming acquainted with the Northern Catalpa. Reason for My Trip South I had lived in Camden County, New Jersey for 33 years. In my teen years, my parents had taken my sister and I on a trip to Sprouse's Corners in Buckingham County, Virginia to see a friend of my mother from her childhood days. The woman had lost her parents when she was still young. Still in her youth, she had boarded with my mother's…
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