Friday, October 15, 2010

One Who Flew Over The Cocoa's Nest

It's been awhile since there's been a road trip with fellow bloggers into the interior. Ever since our intrepid adventurer and adventuress, Cumi & Ciki became international food and travel writers, these jaunts into the quaint little towns and remote areas have become all but a memory. So, when Cumi & Ciki spearheaded the trip to Cocoaland, well, actually a Cocoa plantation run by the Lembaga Koko Malaysia, (not related to Coco Chanel), a large group of us enthusiastically hopped onto the proverbial bandwagon...some wagons arriving later than others, and getting lost.

The place, Jengka, off the new east coast highway, just after the Temerloh turn off, approximately 2 hours from KL. There are a whole lot of Felda settlements along the way, and Jengka is divided numerically into Jengka XXX. We were supposed to turn off at Jengka 18. Laidat oso got people can get lost.

The Malaysian Cocoa Board has a nice building perched on top of a hill...

Our troops ready for adventure.

The people at the Cocoa Board are very hospitable, we were given a lovely breakfast of fried noodles with fried eggs, before being ushered into the conference room for a taklimat. (briefing). It was actually very educational. I always thought Malaysia was way up there in cocoa production, but actually, we are lagging behind at number 18, if I am not mistaken, in cocoa producing. However, as Cocoa grinders, we are ranked no 3, so there is a big disparity between raw material and end product in our industry here.

The Cocoa Board actually sets out to help small time or big time farmers, interested in cultivating the crop. They provide seedlings, saplings, bud grafting, pest control, advice and service for 5 years for FREE!!! They even arrange for your crops to be bought. So, if you have 10 hectares of land lying around idle, do consider a career in cocoa planting. The price of processed cocoa powder is apparently even higher than palm oil.

Is that dashing British fellow falling asleep at the briefing? Gasp!

We were provided transport in a convoy of 4 wheel drives. Children being children, opted to sit in the trunk.

A cocoa tree up close, with them cocoa pods.

Who makes the peace sign anymore these days while taking pics? Well, apparently Memoirs of Chocaholic does. Maybe the cocoa fuelled the flower power in the chocaholic.

Ms Cocoaland 2010??

Some kid who was hanging around with us.

The cocoa pods come in different colors. This species is a glorious aubergine type color.

One of the projects of the Cocoa Board is to experiment on different permutations for crops. In terms of spacing of the plants, and what other plants can be grown concurrently. Here we have the very sought after TONGKAT ALI grown in between the cocoa plants. I would love to try them aphrodisiac chocolates made from cocoa from this plantation!

The fleshy interior of the cocoa pod.... the texture is a bit like soursop, as well as the taste. Yes, its edible.

Check out Oliver's pods.

With one deft chop, Su of Delectable manages to crack open the cocoa pod like a hard boiled egg.

The circle of life for the cocoa bean. The seeds are placed in a wet gunny sack to germinate. When germinated, the seedling is placed, root down, for the young sapling to grow. The pictures show the cocoa baby plant in various stages of growth. After 6 weeks or so, they are bud grafted, with other species, for more productivity.

And the final stop, how we actually GET the cocoa from the cocoa pod. The pods are broken, either manually, or with the Cocoa Breaker Machine, (COBRE), the beans are separated from the husk, and the beans are fermented for up to five days. Hence a foul odour fills the air, so if you intend to ferment cocoa beans at home, make sure you don't do it in your condo.

The fermented beans are then left to to get a sun tan, for 3 days or so, before they are dried to a crisp, and vaguely the same skin tone as Ciki. The precious cocoa lies within the seed.

We have in that last frame, that British fella telling Puan Rozita, "hey, this doesn't taste like Cadbury".

And the end product of cocoa is.....tah dah....

For those of us who wanted it, you could actually get the young cocoa plants and bring them home. The boy took 5 back.

A great trip, and honestly, MOST educational. Highly recommended for field trips etc. The people at the Lembaga Koko are great, hospitable, friendly and helpful. Kudos to them for an excellently run establishment.

Thanks to Cumi for organising, to Ciki for inviting, and to all the staff at the LKM.

PS- I hope little Chloe benefited from the Cocoa Pod that her mother asked for! ;)


PureGlutton said...

Such an educational post - i learned lots :-)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Brilliant! I look forward to seeing cocoa plants in your garden soon. (FBB cakes - from the pod to the pot)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

haha some boy..indeed..

can get funding too if you grow at home?

qwazymonkey said...

Hey, that kid looks like my bruvver!

Brilliant round up. Now I need to crack my head on my post. Die.

iamthewitch said...

Oh no, I never knew Cocoa pods have erm, flesh? So the cocoa is made from the seeds within the flesh? I'm such a n00b!

babe_kl said...

Too bad we couldn't make it for the trip, otherwise that little boy would have another little boy to play with :p

Julian Si said...

Wah so educational :-)

Ta, bro!

Rachel@Any Idiot Can said...

Cool. I had no idea what cocoa pods even looked like :) Cool photos. Looks fun too.

KY said...

abang, semua gambar tak keluar ehhh

J2Kfm said...

Wah complete with slide shows and introduction. Not bad .... government departments very efficient. *wink wink*

Anyway, yeah, I have tasted the raw cocoa as well, from a friend's farm somewhere up north. Nothing like chocolate, sadly.

gfad said...

Wahh.. I wonder how many of your readers actually know where your title really comes from. Was it during the era where Meryl Streep was constantly nominated for Best Actress every year?

So the cocoa as we know it actually comes from inside the seed of the cocoa fruit?

And if you have a cow, rear some chickens, plant some wheat and sugar cane, you can proudly proclaim a truly homegrown homemade chocolate cake!! :D

J said...

What a great day out :)
(So have u planted the cocoa into your garden yet? I guess we can expect ur specialty chocolates range in about 2 years time?)

fatboybakes said...

J, no la, the boy hasnt planted it yet. roll eyes.

GFAD, yalar, i oso think no one caught it...sum more i thought it was such a brilliant title. i think this was even BEFORE the meryl streep era. it was jack nicholson.

fatboybakes said...

j2kfm, yeah, they were very good actually. very impressive set up. more people should go visit them!

KY, adik, gambak mana yang tak keluak?

fatboybakes said...

rachel, heh heh, i'm glad you have been enlightened.

jules, it was. most interesting bit for me was the fact that cocoa beans have to be fermented before they have any taste.

fatboybakes said...

babekl, hmm, that boy seems quite antisocial, so i dunno if your boy would've someone to "play with".

iamthewitch, aiseh, cocoa not one of the ingredients in the cauldron ah? heh heh. dun worry, i think most of us didnt know cocoa beans had flesh either. most thought cadbury just grows on trees.

fatboybakes said...

monkey boy, yes, the similarities are startling.

nipples, well, if you have a 10 hectare garden, i guess they would fund you..

fatboybakes said...

thamby, alas, the fermentation of cocoa beans are is too much work...and i dont have a cocoa breaker.

pure glutton, yup, i think we all learnt alot.

阿葉 said...

我們提供一項最簡單 最輕鬆經營模式達到持續性收入
線上培訓學習簡單 系統自動跟進

ngochan said...

Dear fatboybakes,
I'm Han from Grand Place Viet Nam
On your blog I saw the image of Cocoa pod breaker. I'm interested in this machine.
Would you like send to me some information about this machine?
-Where I can buy it?
-Contacting address
Many thanks with your answers.
My email:
skype: ngochan26687