Belmont Estate Grenadas must see attraction Grenada Emblem
 

Cocoa, Chocolate and Spices

 

Grenada has earned its name as the Isle of Spice and The Spice of the Caribbean because of the extensive selection of spices grown on the island. Being the world's second largest producer of nutmegs, this precious spice naturally tops the list of fragrant spices produced here. The exotic spice array includes cinnamon, pimento, cloves, bay leaves, turmeric, ginger, and mace, and all are grown at Belmont Estate. Nutmegs and mace are exported and are used extensively for culinary and pharmaceutical purposes. Locally they are both used as food flavourings, and seasonings, while the pericarp (fruit ) is used for making jams, jellies, syrups, juices and candy. A local company, Noelville Ltd. uses nutmeg oils to manufacture the now world famous Nut-MedT, a proven formula for joint and muscle pain relief.

 

Prior to hurricane Ivan, nutmegs and mace were the number one agricultural products grown on the estate. Nutmeg production has decreased by about 75 percent since then. Cooca, has now replaced nutmegs as our number one agricultural product. The cocoa adventure at Belmont begins with a visit to the cocoa fields where the captivating story of the transformation of raw cocoa beans into a delicate product that is used for making chocolate unfolds.

 

Cocoa is harvested by sniping the colourful oval shaped pods off the trees using mitten-shaped knives (called cocoa knives). The pods are heaped into piles, then cracked with a cutlass or machete and the white beans (seeds) are removed and placed into buckets or bags for transportation to the fermentation point. There the beans are placed into a sifter where excess water is drained out and debris (leaves, stones, broken pods etc.,) are removed. The beans are then weighed and placed in large wooden bins (fermenting boxes), covered with banana leaves and jute bags. The beans remain in boxes for 7-8 days during which time fermentation takes place. During fermentation the white substance covering the beans, disappears; the beans turn a rich shade of brown and flavour develops. The beans are turned from one box into another every two days to allow an even distribution of the heat that is produced during fermentation. Once fermented the beans are placed outside to dry in the sun on big wooden trays, for six to seven days. During that period workers walk through the beans to allow air to flow evenly through the beans, to aid with the drying. The beans then go through a cosmetic process called polishing. Traditionally, beans were polishing by dancing on them in large copper pots. Polishing removes any dried pulp residue on the seed, and gives the bean a smooth, polished look. Polishing is done by commercial polishers. Belmont Estate has forged a strategic alliance with the The Grenada Chocolate Company, to make the world's finest dark organic chocolate. The Grenada Chocolate Company and Belmont Estate are a members of the Grenada Organic Cocoa Farmers Co-operative Society Ltd., that grow organic cocoa to make the product. The co-operative consists of about twelve farmers that have received organic certification through the German certifying company Ceres.

 

Belmont Estate has an excellent relationship with Grenada Cocoa Association (the local farmers association). On and off over the last 30 years Belmont Estate has acted as an agent for the GCA (who manage the cocoa industry, buying from local farmers and selling internationally). When acting as an agent for the GCA, Belmont Estate purchases wet cocoa from the farmers in the community, ferments and dries the beans, then sells to the Association. In 2012 Belmont Estate and the Grenada Chocolate Factory formed a closer partnership and currently organic beans are purchased from local organically certified farmers then fermented and dried at Belmont for the factory to produce the world class, award winning chocolate. On buying days at Belmont, visitors can see the beans actually being weighed and purchased from farmers. And on any day of the week be assured that you will see beans being fermented, and dried. The story of the cocoa is brought to life at the fermentary with the display of several pieces of machinery that are used in the semi-processing and by the demonstration of the traditional method of polishing the bean, by dancing in old copper pots.

 

Visitors are shown a video entitled "Cocoa - Food of the Gods, From the Field to Chocolate " and can sample Belmont's "cocoa tea" (local hot chocolate) as they allow the fine bouquet of fermenting cocoa beans and the aroma of nutmegs, cloves, bay, pimento and other local spices to permeate their senses..

 
 
 
 

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