Researchers have claimed that species of yeast that is used in production of beer, bread, and wine works particularly well in chocolate fermentation.
The research conducted by the University of Leuven worked to improve cacao fermentation by controlling the microbes involved.
Kevin Verstrepen, PhD, professor of genetics and genomics, said that chemical analyses as well as tasting the chocolate showed that the chocolate produced with their best yeasts is much better and more consistent than the chocolate produced through natural fermentation.
After harvesting, cacao beans are collected and placed in large wooden boxes, or even piled on the soil at the farms where they are grown.
At this point, the beans are surrounded by an unappetizing white, gooey, pulp composed of sugars, proteins, water, pectin, and small amounts of lignin and hemicellulose. Microbes that are present in the farm environment then go to work consuming the pulp through fermentation.
Verstrepen mentioned that some microbes produce bad aromas that enter into the beans, giving rise to chocolate with a foul taste, while others do not fully consume the pulp, making the resulting beans difficult to process, so they tried to find the best microbes that result in the best chocolate.
The investigators then applied these new hybrids to fermenting chocolate on farms, which their industrial partner, Barry-Callebaut used to make chocolate for the taste testing done by a selected panel of consumers.
The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.