White Cacao Beans?
Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley were sourcing fruit in Peru’s Marañón Canyon when they discovered cacao trees growing in a remote horseshoe-shaped canyon surrounded by 6,000-feet canyon walls. The cacao trees were growing football-shaped pods filled with a mix of 40% white and 60% purple cacao beans in the same pods, or in some cases, the pods were completely filled with only white beans. Curious about what turned out to be rare white beans, they sent leaf samples to the USDA for testing. “When they called with genetic test results and asked, ‘Are you sitting down?’ I knew we had found something special,” said Pearson.
It turns out that they had rediscovered a Pure Nacional cacao variety, one that was once used to make the chocolate that dominated the worldwide fine chocolate market with its complex fruit and floral flavors before it was tragically wiped out by disease and thought to be extinct.