I have read now in a few places that the best chocolate is made from fermented beans that were left in the pods for about 4 days after picking before then being opened and fermented. This got me thinking about an explanation, perhaps this is akin to the malting process. The malting process is where a grain is taken, most commonly barley, and it is soaked in water and then allowed to germinate. Once germinated it is then dried for a few days at around 50degC then roasted after that to the darkness required. The process of germination breaks down polysaccharides into monomeric sugars such as glucose and fructose and also proteins are broken down into amino acidsthese arethe two precursors for the Maillard reaction which is responsible for the flavours in chocolate.
So joining the two together is it possible that leaving the pods once cut for 4 days before opening and fermenting leads to changes in the beans akin to malting providing the bean with more precursors to the chocolate flavour? I know that cacao germinates very quicky, I am growing some in Darwin at my sister-in-laws house.
I had a quick look in the scientific lit. and couldnt find any refs on the subject, it would be a cool research project I think.
updated by @tom: 04/21/15 12:52:21PM