Easter eggs hot cross buns and the microorganisms that help create them

With supermarket shelves filled with chocolate at this time of year, little thought goes into how the humble cocoa bean eventually becomes the popular Easter egg. But Dr Primrose from our Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation says that even less known is that cocoa cannot be produced without the involvement of hundreds of species of fungi and bacteria.

The Leicester microbiologist takes us through the processes that are required to turn the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree into the cocoa beans that give us cocoa solids and cocoa butter in a new article for our Think:Leicester platform.

Dr Freestone said: "Because of the global popularity of chocolate, chemical analysis of cocoa and chocolate has given us much information about individual flavour component contributions. However, it is not possible chemically to reproduce the characteristic chocolate flavour spectrum that microbial fermentation gives to cocoa beans.

"This means without the hundreds of microbial species that ferment the Theobroma seed pods, there would be no cocoa beans, and no chocolate Easter eggs!"

She also demonstrates the vital role that the fungus yeast plays in the production of another Easter favourite, hot cross buns - as well as a variety of other foodstuffs you may see at the dinner table this Easter.