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New Scientific Method for Healthier and Sustainable Chocolate

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Swiss scientists and chocolatiers developed a recipe that swaps sugar for waste plant matter, making chocolate healthier and more sustainable.
According to a report published in Nature Food, scientists have made a sweet, fibrous gel by mashing up the pulp and husk of cocoa pods instead of just taking the beans.
Scientists found that “whole food” chocolate makes a more nutritious product and uses less land and water than conventional chocolate.
Kim Mishra, a food technologists at ETH Zürich and lead author of the study, said cocoa fruit is basically a pumpkin and right now we’re just using its seeds.
Researchers develop cocoa fruit gel to replace sugar in chocolate
Researchers made a gel from the waste flesh and juice of the cocoa fruit that can replace powdered crystalline sugar in chocolate.
Introducing moisture into chocolate is not recommended because you are destroying it, said Mishra. “We disrespected one of the most holy rules of chocolate-making.”
According to him, the findings could lead to healthier and more sustainable chocolate, as well as a new source of income for farmers.
Compared to the old method, the new method consumed 6% less land and water in a lab, but increased planet-heating emissions by 12% due to an additional drying step.
However, by scaling up the process and drying the pulp in the sun or using solar panels, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced.
According to Alejandro Marangoni, it needs to be validated with a pilot study from the University of Guelph’s department of food science.
A $100 billion chocolate industry generates only a small fraction of the profits for tropical farmers. The biggest benefits, said Marangoni, would probably be seen in the countries that grow the cocoa because processing the pulp would have to take place there. As a consumer, we’d hope they don’t mess up our chocolate if this were implemented.
Is chocolate an environmentally harmful food?
Regarding greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food, chocolate ranks alongside some meats as one of the most polluting foods a person can consume. In addition to reducing waste in the production process, Mishra and his colleagues found that it could also become healthier.
The bittersweet finding for chocolate lovers is that the new product lacks the fine-tuning ability that powdered sugar has long been known for.
While the sweetness of the gel is comparable, it doesn’t reach exactly the same level, said Mishra. “Making this chocolate is all about balance – too much sweetening gel prevents the chocolate from processing; too little is not sweet enough.”
Although it was similar in texture and taste to flavourful dark chocolates from South America, he said the lab-based chocolate was “basically the same” as dark chocolate. Compared to traditional dark chocolate, the sweetness releases slightly slower and the juice has more fruity notes and acidity.
 

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