Chocolate delight

It's not just the Blue Peter head gardener Claire Bradley that likes her chocolate, British people get through a staggering amount - half a million tonnes a year to be precise. Spending an incredible three billion pounds each year on all the different varieties. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which grow on trees that come from West Africa and South America. They are unusual because the flowers and subsequent fruit develop along the trunk and main branches of the tree. The cocoa pod turns a bright yellow when it is ripe and contains between 20 and 40 beans. To make chocolate from this, the beans are fermented, dried, roasted, ground, crushed and sifted - it takes a very long time. But a breakthrough in science might change all of the that. Professor Emile Stratus, a British scientist, has made an amazing discovery which has the potential to turn the chocolate industry upside down. A new species of tree 'choco deliciosus' has been found which produces actual chocolate as its beans. This new plant species is very similar to the normal cocoa tree, the smaller fruit grows on the main stem of the plant, but looking inside a ripe pod, the difference is obvious as a small bean of pure chocolate can be found. Having discovered the plant on a specimen-finding expedition in South America, the plant was brought back to England for further tests and scientists have bred the sugar gene into the plant to produce a sweeter version of the chocolate bean. The next challenge is to try breeding the plant with the milk gene to see if milk chocolate beans can be produced as well. And then they'll move on to different shapes... perhaps after April Fool's day...

Release date: 30 Mar 2010

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4 minutes

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