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Pod breaking

Pod breaking or opening is not a minor operation that merely consists of breaking open the pods and removing the beans, since it strongly effects subsequent operations, ultimate bean quality and conversion yield of wet beans to dry beans.

After harvesting, pods are either broken by means of a small cutlass or a wooden billet.  The pod is struck halfway across the longitudinal axis and opened by twisting the tip of the cutlass.  This is done in one fluid motion.  Opening using the wooden billet involves one or two sharp blows with the edge of the billet.  The distal portion of the pod falls away and the beans remain conveniently attached to the placenta from which they can be easily extracted.

The beans are removed from the placenta being careful to exclude any germinated, black or diseased beans or pieces of shell and placenta fragments.

The time between harvesting and opening the pods have been found to influence subsequent fermentation and ultimate flavour development.  In Trinidad, it is the practice to harvest pods at the start of the week and crack the pods in the field at the end of the week, fill bags or baskets with the wet beans and transport them to the fermentation facilities.  The wet beans should reach the fermentation facility within 24 hours of the pods being broken to avoid any problems during fermentation.  Pod storage in excess of six days has been found to affect flavours in cocoa (Clapperton et al., 1994).


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