Have you ever wondered just how your yummy chocolate Easter egg arrived in your hands? Well, wonder no more!
Energy is involved in every stage of the journey, from the cocoa plant to the supermarket shelf.
STEP BY STEP
Cocoa plants can be found around the world, usually in warm and wet areas near the equator. Countries in Africa and South America produce the most amount of cocoa in the world.
It’s from this plant that the chocolate we know (and love!) is produced.
Fermentation is the breakdown of sugar into acids, gases and alcohol.
The seeds or beans of the cocoa tree are picked, cleaned and roasted before being fermented for 5-7 days. The collection of the beans is carried out very carefully, in order to not damage the rest of the tree.
They are then laid out in the heat of the sun to dry for around 4 days.
After they dry, the beans are then pressed in a grinder to separate them into cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
Different amounts of cocoa powder and cocoa butter are mixed together, along with sugar and milk to make all kinds of flavours and types of chocolate.
They are mixed together in a process known as conching. This involves stirring the mixture round and round and round for several days! This is done by machine for the large amounts of chocolate made for Easter eggs, but can be done by hand for chocolate at home.
After this time, the mixture is cooled, while still being stirred (can chocolate get dizzy?), which is known as tempering the chocolate. This stops it from setting into a hard block of chocolate.
Keeping it soft lets manufacturers mold and transform it into different shapes easily, for example regular chocolate bar shape, or your fancy Easter egg!
Now comes the wrapping! Packaging of Easter eggs involves quite a lot of cardboard and plastic, but manufacturers are trying to cut down on these materials to help the environment. So if you have lots of boxes and things leftover, remember to recycle them!
Once the egg is nicely wrapped up, it travels again from the manufacturer to the supermarket shelf, and then into your belly!
So when you tuck into your chocolate egg this Easter, think about how far it’s travelled and the energy used to get it to you; from farmers using energy to collect the beans from the tree, the natural heat energy of the sun in growing and drying the seeds, the oil and gas used in transporting the chocolate thousands of miles to the supermarkets, heating and roasting the beans in the factory, and producing the plastic used in the fancy packaging, and finally to all the electricity used in every step of the journey!