Cacao Nibs: Snacking on Bitter but Irresistible Seeds

August 14, 2020

It’s nutty, fruity and bitter. Not the flavor I love but it’s quite addicting. My taste buds want me to stop but my hands keep on getting more.

What are cacao nibs?

Cacao nibs are cotyledon. The part of the seed that becomes the very first two leaves and at the same time, plant’s first energy source, for dicots at least.

It’s cotyledon and it becomes nibs when you set it for eating purpose, whether it’s raw or roasted, with shell or without.

Is cacao nibs good for you?

The straight answer is yes. Cacao nibs are rich in antioxidants. If you snack on it, you will not only take in antioxidants, but also avoid eating common highly processed snacks.

You may eat them raw.

Eating them raw is great. You’re going to get all the antioxidants, including those that are supposed to vanish with heat.

Raw chocolate makers strictly monitor the process from fermentation up to molding. Each step should not exceed above 40ºC.

However, safety practitioners are against the idea. Roasting, which is about 100-150ºC, is the only part of the process that kills microbes.

However, cacao in its pure form is not a preferred microbes breeding ground. It’s not invulnerable of contamination but proliferation is unlikely, unless you add milk.

Want to eat them raw? The choice is up to you! As of now, I’ve never heard of cacao having E coli or Salmonella that have caused health problems.

Get them freshly roasted.

Chocolatier selling freshly roasted cacao is rare. However, you can buy them freshly roasted upon request.

Eating them freshly roasted is quite enjoyable. It’s like snacking on salted watermelon seed. However, cacao shell is pretty easy to remove. It won’t hurt your hands in any way.

Roast them yourself.

Be more adventurous and roast the cacao beans yourself. You can roast them in a skillet or in a mini coffee roaster.

What are the benefit of these?

You can choose quality beans and develop your own roasting style. Get the popular Criollo variety and do a medium roast.

I’m too busy. I just want to buy nibs. How do I know if it’s real or not?

If you see cacao nibs written on label, then probably it’s true. Unlike coffee being adulterated by chicory, cacao has no replacement. On the other hand, some makers are coating the nibs with sugar. It’s not a bad thing because it gives a bittersweet flavor.

If you’re avoiding sugar, please read the label carefully.

What are the other possible uses of cacao nibs?

I’m adding cacao nibs to salads, coffee, and even oatmeal. I haven’t tried yet but I think it will be a great cake and bread toppings.
And maybe, you want to try making your very own chocolate!

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