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Cocoa processed with alkali

Updated on January 7, 2011
photo credit: reflexstock.com
photo credit: reflexstock.com

Those of us that are really vigilant about eating all natural foods might spend a lot of time reading ingredient labels. When we do so, we might still find ourselves stumped when we ponder upon certain ingredients. What is cocoa processed with alkali? It might not sound too natural when we read the words "processed" and "alkali".

Cocoa processed with alkali is also known as the dutch process for cocoa. It was invented by 19th century Dutch chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten. Born in Amsterdam, He lived from 1801 to 1887 and was a chemist.

The purpose of the dutch process was to add some base to neutralize the acidity of the cocoa. The base used was typically a salt such as a sodium carbonate.

The acidity of cocoa in its natural form causes a bitter taste and the cocoa is reddish brown in color. When the alkali is added, the taste becomes less bitter and the color becomes a darker brown.

The pitfalls of the alkali processing include a decrease in the amount of polyphenols and antioxidants in the cocoa. If the cocoa was not processed with the alkali, it would have greater health benefits.

Cocoa processed with alkali is widely used today in many foods containing chocolate.

photo credit: reflexstock.com
photo credit: reflexstock.com
photo credit: reflexstock.com
photo credit: reflexstock.com
photo credit: reflexstock.com
photo credit: reflexstock.com

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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Wow, that is a revelation. Thank you.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for this great tip that we often overlook - the alkali reduces the very benefits that make chocolate so healthy. I think most people just ignore this when it is listed on a label. We need to know what it means.

      Thanks for the useful information - and great photos! Rated up!