Kakaw is a small evergreen tree with a globose crown, growing to 5 to 8 meters high Leaves are alternate, entire, oblong-ovate to oblong, 15 to 40 centimeters long, 5 to 20 centimeters wide, with pointed tip and rounded base. Flowers are solitary or fascicled on the trunk and branches; yellowish or nearly white, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Fruit is oblong, 10 to 15 centimeters long, prominently wrinkled, yellow or purplish. Seeds are numerous and embedded in whitish pulp; when ripe they rattle in the capsule when shaken.
Edibility / Culinary
– Cultivated for use in the manufacture of cacao, chocolate, cacao butter, chocolate food, drink or fruit.
– Oil or cocoa butter is an excellent emollient, used to soften and protect chapped hands and lips.
– Eczema, dry skin: Roast 10-12 seeds and pound ; apply to affected areas as poultice after a warm compress.
– Root decoction used as emmenagogue (promotes or stimulates menstrual flow) and ecbolic (promotes labor by stimulating uterine contractions.
– Husk is traditionally used to treat the pains of pregnancy, fevers, and coughs. (29)
– Pod of T. cacao and shaft of Elaeis guinensis are burned together, poured into a water container, and used to bathe kids infected with craw-craw (itchy skin disease caused by larvae of filarial worm causing onchocerciasis migrating to the subcutaneous tissues). (38)Others
– Cocoa butter: Cacao butter (oil of theobroma) is an excellent emollient for use to prevent chapped lips and hands. it is used in the manufacture of confections, toilet articles and cosmetics; in pharmacy, used for pill coating and suppository preparation.
– Fuel: The wood–light, soft, and of low durability–is of little value. Occasionally used for making charcoal. The cocoa bean testa is used for fuel. (42)
– Ceremonial Food: Cacao was a tree and food most prized by ancient Maya and Aztec, consumed during rituals and offered as sacraments to the gods.
– Preparation: Cocoa is prepared by grinding the beans into a paste between hot rollers, then mixing it with sugar and starch, with part of the fat removed. Chocolate is prepared in the same way, with the fat retained.