Climate change is good at something apparently, according to a recent study. The new research claims that changing weather patterns may actually improve the taste of chocolate.
In the study which was published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists looked at how climate change and agricultural methods can alter the quality of cocoa beans. Although the agricultural method used for growing cocoa trees did not influence the change much, critical weather conditions were seen as a prime catalyst.
Changing climate conditions can alter the composition of cocoa beans, which in turn results in more flavorful chocolate.
Wiebke Niether and Gerhard Gerold, from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frick, Switzerland, tested different growing methods to see if there was a difference in the cocoa bean’s chemical composition.
Researchers analyzed beans taken from five cocoa tree farms in Bolivia at the beginning and end of the dry season. This runs from April to September. The trees were grown in full-sun monocultural groves or in agroforest environments. Agroforestry groves contain both cocoa trees and other plants that provide shade while monocultural groves contain only cocoa trees that grow in direct sunlight.
Normally, cocoa trees thrive in hot and humid climates near the equator. Another vital aspect of increased cocoa bean quality is that they grow in mixed groves with other types of trees and plants that can cool the air and provide shade.
Niether and Gerold then prepared the beans for analysis by fermenting and drying them.
Weather largely contributed to the cocoa bean’s chemical composition, they found. The antioxidant content increased and the fat content of the beans decreased during the dry season as there was an increase in temperature and decrease in soil moisture. Niether and Gerhold concluded that stressful weather conditions may alter the flavor of chocolate.
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