What are Cacao Nibs and Nibbles? What are the benefits?

Last Updated on October 21, 2020 by marvz

It’s chocolate in its purest and healthiest form. If you love dark chocolates, then you’ll love cocoa nibs too. You can be sure that it has no added ingredient.

Cacao nibs are nutty, fruity, and bitter. Not the flavor I love but it’s quite addicting. My taste buds want me to stop but my hands keep on getting more.

What are cacao nibs?

Cacao nibs are cotyledon. The part of the seed that becomes the first two leaves and at the same time, the plant’s first energy source, for dicots at least.

It’s cotyledon and it becomes nibs when you set it for eating purpose, whether it’s raw or roasted, with shell or without.

However, most cacao nibs available in the marketplace are roasted cacao nibs. Roasting improves flavor and facilitates the easy removal of cacao shells.

So, if you want raw cacao nibs, you have to buy unroasted cacao beans. Then remove the husk while snacking. It’s like eating watermelon and squash seed.

What are the differences between cocoa nibs and cacao nibs?

The two have no difference. People often refer to cacao as a tree or fruit. While cocoa refers to processed powder form.

In our modern era, the two terms are interchangeable. Calling the product either cocoa nibs or cacao nibs is self preference.

Cocoa nibbles or cacao nibbles on the other hand are usually coated with milk and sugar. It’s also healthy but not as healthy as pure cacao nibs.

Are cacao nibs different from cacao nibbles?

The term nibs has been established by the cacao industry as broken pieces of cacao beans, either roasted or raw. While nibble refers to eating by taking small bites.

In my observation cacao nibbles or cocoa nibbles are usually coated with a mixture of sugar and milk. Cacao nibs have no added ingredients.

What are the health benefits of cacao nibs?

All benefits you can get from cacao are also benefits of cacao nibs.

  1. It may reduce blood pressure. Thanks to its high flavonoid content.
  2. Reduce the risk of diabetes. Cacao is loaded with flavonoids, which increases insulin sensitivity.
  3. Lower the risk of heart disease due to its high potassium content
  4. Mitigate inflammation that lessens the risk of cancers, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease

Are cacao nibs good for you?

The straight answer is yes. Cacao nibs are rich in antioxidants. If you snack on it, you will not only take in antioxidants but also avoid eating common highly processed snacks.

Antioxidants are synonymous with patrols. They’ll roam through your body and remove all harmful elements.

Junk foods on the other hand have plenty of harmful chemicals. Do you bother reading the ingredient list before opening the package? I bet not. All you do is eat to your heart’s desires.

Most junk food ingredients are harmful. But the effect is not immediate. The chemical will slowly accumulate in your body. Then when a disease manifests, you’ll have no idea which is the real culprit.

You can eat raw cacao beans – as nibs

Eating raw cacao beans seems odd but the health benefits are great. You’re going to get all the antioxidants, including those that vanish with heat.

If cleanliness is questionable for you, then get cacao beans reputable source. A company that observes good manufacturing practices.

Another way. Get ripe cacao pods. Then ferment and dry it in your home.

It’s easy. Open the pod. Take off the slimy beans. Transfer into a sealed container and let stand for 5 to 6 days. After, dry under the sun or dry in the oven.

Fermenting and drying cacao in large batches requires rigorous steps. For your own use, the simple steps I stated will do.

How is raw cacao nibs related to raw chocolates?

Raw cacao nibs and raw chocolates are both unroasted. However, raw chocolates follow strict self-imposed standards.

Raw chocolate makers strictly monitor the process from fermentation up to molding. Each step should not exceed above 40ºC.

Are raw cacao nibs safe to eat?

Safety practitioners are against the idea of raw cacao nibs and raw chocolates. Roasting, which is about 100-150ºC, is the only part of the process that kills microbes.

However, cacao in its pure form is not a preferred microbes breeding ground. It can carry microbes but proliferation is unlikely, unless you add milk.

Want to eat them raw? The choice is up to you! As of now, I’ve never heard of cacao having E. coli or Salmonella that caused health problems.

Get freshly roasted cacao beans instead of nibs

Chocolatier selling freshly roasted cacao is rare. However, you can buy them freshly roasted upon request.

Eating them freshly roasted is quite enjoyable. It’s like snacking on salted watermelon seed. However, cacao shell is pretty easy to remove. It won’t hurt your hands in any way.

Buy cacao beans and roast them yourself

Be more adventurous and roast the cacao beans yourself. You can roast them in a skillet or in a mini coffee roaster.

Go roast beans the old style. Get a skillet and put it over the gas range. Then roast the beans with continuous stirring for about 15 minutes to 1 hour. The higher the heat the shorter the time gets.

Remember to stir continuously or you’ll never get a uniform roast outcome. Get better results with less work by using a mini bean roaster. Every roast batch is a breeze once you got the right roasting profile.

What are the benefits of making the cacao nibs?

You can develop the roasting profile you want. Choose quality beans and develop your roasting method. Get the popular Criollo variety and do a medium roast.

Aging chocolates improves the flavor. However, cacao nibs are best when fresh. With beans, equipment, and skill, you can enjoy fresh cacao nibs whenever you want.

Is there any use for cacao shells?

Yes, you can use cacao shells for a variety of things.

  1. Source of antioxidants and fibers. Cocoa shells are rich in both
  2. Use to make tea. People have different opinions about it. It’s a no for me because it might contain heavy metals, ochratoxin, and microbes
  3. Use cacao shells as a cocoa replacement. Barry Callebaut has a patent
  4. Use as paper packaging. Mix shell with other fibrous material to make paper
  5. As fertilizer. If you can’t think of anything, this is the best use.

I just want to buy nibs. How do I know if it’s real or not?

If you see cacao nibs written on the label, then probably it’s true. Unlike coffee being adulterated by chicory, cacao has no replacement. On the other hand, some makers are coating the nibs with sugar. It’s not a bad thing because it gives a bittersweet flavor.

If you’re avoiding sugar, please read the label carefully. Pure cacao nibs should only contain one ingredient, the cacao.

Another option is to buy freshly roasted cacao from your favorite chocolate maker. The crunchy nibs get tough after a day or two, especially if not packed nicely.

What are the uses of cacao nibs?

I’m adding cacao nibs to salads, coffee, and even oatmeal. I haven’t tried yet but I think it will be a great cake and bread toppings. And maybe you want to try making your very own chocolate!

If you choose to make your own cacao nibs, then you’re two steps away from making your own dark chocolate. Save enough for a mini melanger. Buy a few molds and learn how to manually temper and mold.

Making chocolate is hard and time-consuming. But if you value health and enjoy working with chocolates, everything will be easy.

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