What is Cell-based chocolate?

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Chocolate Information

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Cell-based chocolate is a new type of chocolate that involves growing cacao plant cells in a lab instead of harvesting cacao pods from cacao farms. The process uses advanced cellular agriculture techniques to grow cacao cells that produce the same complex flavors and textures similar to those found in traditional chocolate.

In this blog post, we will explore the world of cell-based chocolate. We will look at how innovations in science and technology are opening new doors for the chocolate industry.

What is the difference between normal and cell-based cocoa?

The primary difference between regular cocoa (derived from cacao trees) and cell-based cocoa (produced through cellular growth) lies in their cultivation methods.

Regular cocoa is obtained from cacao beans that are harvested from cacao trees grown in tropical regions. The beans are processed to extract cocoa solids and cocoa butter, which are the primary components used in chocolate production.

Cell-based cocoa is produced in a laboratory or controlled environment through cellular agriculture. This process involves the cultivation of cacao cells, which grow, replicate and then differentiate to produce the various components needed for cocoa-based products, such as chocolate.

Is cell-based cocoa more environmentally friendly?

Cell-based cocoa has the potential to reduce many of the environmental impacts associated with traditional cacao farming, including deforestation, habitat loss, greenhouse gas emissions and lower carbon footprint.  While promising, the true impact and cost of the various inputs needed to grow the cell cultures and the byproducts produced by such a system won’t be fully understood until these new methods are scaled up for mass production.

How do they make cell-based chocolate?

The process of creating lab-grown chocolate starts with cultivating cacao cells in a lab setting so that the needed chocolate ingredients can be produced. 

Here’s how it works:

Step 1

The first step in this process is to obtain a small sample of cells from a cacao tree. These cells can be stem cells or other types of cells capable of reproducing and differentiating.

Step 2  

Cacao cells are placed in an environment that provides the necessary nutrients, temperature, and humidity conditions for cell growth. These cells multiply to form a larger population of cells in the growth media.

Step 3

To create cocoa solids and cocoa butter, the cultured cells are guided to differentiate into specialized cell types. For example, some cells might develop into those that produce cocoa solids, while others become those that produce cocoa butter.

Step 4 

After the cells have differentiated, the cocoa components are extracted from the cells.  They can then be dried and/or purified, and combined in the appropriate proportions to create cocoa and chocolate products. Additional ingredients such as sweeteners and flavorings can be added to achieve the desired taste and texture.

Step  5 

Quality control measures are taken throughout the process to ensure that the cocoa produced meets desired flavor, texture, and safety standards.

Cell-based chocolate is still in its early stages and may be years away from being widely available. While we wait for the future to arrive, let us continue to enjoy our favorite chocolates and savor every bite with an appreciation for tradition, knowing that new developments are on the way.

We hope you enjoyed this article. For more great articles, check out the rest of our CocoTerra blog

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us through our social media channels.  We are @cocoterra_co on Instagram and Pinterest and @cocoterraco on Twitter and Facebook.

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