Ecuador Albums 2001
Chocolate and Other Processes

I learned a lot about many different processes while I was at Sueños — things like harvesting coffee and making cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter. As interesting as these are, my most valuable lessons were in the processes of community, cooperation, and self awareness. I don't have photos for the latter lessons, but much of their substance is derived from the work of the physical processes.

Who's Who in the Albums

Making chocolate, step 1: Find and harvest ripe cacao.

Whacking the cacao almost in half with a machete reveals purple seeds covered with a sweet white sticky substance. For an extra treat, you can suck off the white covering before throwing the seeds into the harvest bag.

After two to three weeks of hanging the seed bag from a tree and then drying the seeds in a solar box, they are ready to roast. Now the real work begins with shelling the roasted cacao seeds...

...and then grinding them three or four times, each time more difficult than the time before. Add sugar to taste for the final passes through the grinder. In this photo, Anthony is grinder master; Franklin is observer; Jessica and Sharon are chief assistants; I get to be photographer.

Finally, shape the chocolate into bars, decorate them or sprinkle on more sugar to your liking...

...and leave them to dry on plantain leaves. The leaves are doubled over and weighted down with rocks to keep the chocolate covered.

Don Emilio invited us to his farm to harvest some coffee beans as a gift to Sueños. The beans grow in clusters high on the tree branches and are brought down into reach with a hooked stick.

The caution to observe in picking coffee beans is that the clusters seem to be considered desirable habitat for biting ants. Reach with care!

Back at Sueños, the beans are drying in preparation for roasting and grinding.

I arrived at Sueños in time for the peanut harvest.

After harvesting, the peanuts are laid out to dry, and then they are shelled and roasted or ground into peanut butter.

Susanita curls around a bowl of peanut shells destined to be ground into mulch for the gardens.


 

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