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This morning at Hacienda Limón we went over to see fermentation and drying. Samuel does a “pre-drying” where he takes the harvested cacao, lets it dry for 4-8 hours on the patio, and then begins fermentation. This is sort of his “signature” fermenting process; he claims it helps remove the agua sangre, a phenomenon that occurs here in Ecuador with a buildup of liquids after several hours of fermentation. He claims that by pre-drying, it helps eliminate the acidity that “agua sangre” creates. He’s being working with cacao processing for well over a decade and research on cacao for more than two decades, and this is his theory.
He showed us a small batch of beans he had fermenting just for demonstration purposes, since harvest is basically over.
And the last batches of already fermented beans were drying on the patio, soon to be packed up.
We did some tasting of beans from local farms prepared on site. First, the bean were roasted by hand, then peeled by hand. Then the beans were ground in a small lab grinder right on site.
We then did the tastings of the pure liquor.
You can definitely recognize differences in each one, some being surprisingly much more palatable than others.
There´s a small house of concrete and bamboo where we stayed, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and small living area on an open patio. We got lots of bug bites, though it was nice to hear all the bug music at night.