Yeast in Chocolate

Does chocolate contain yeast?

The short answer is yes.  It doesn’t necessarily have a lot of yeast in it, depending on how it is processes.  It may or may not be enough to be a problem for you.

Also, most chocolate has a lot of sugar in it, which is also bad if you are on a yeast-free and “don’t feed the yeast” diet.

Other ingredients added to some chocolate bars may include additional yeast.

The main culprit is maltose and other similar ingredients. Maltose is a fermented product, usually made from barley. Fermentation in this case involves yeast.

“Surely” you may be thinking to yourself, “chocolate doesn’t have yeast in it!”  Here’s why chocolate has at least some yeast in it.

Thanks to Samantha Madell for her cocoa processing article, and several other sources, I now have the following information to share with you about cocoa processing and the involvement of yeast.

Cocoa beans are at the center of a pulpy fruit.  These beans do not have the familiar chocolate taste we are used to.

The beans and surrounding pulp are removed from the fruit.

At this first stage of fermentation, air is excluded, which is perfect for the growth of yeasts.  Wild yeasts, probably from the outside of the fruit, drive the fermentation process.

Note that this is not baker’s or brewer’s yeast.  If you have a yeast allergy, or suffer from Candida, they types of yeasts found in chocolate may not be a problem for you.  On the other hand, they may trigger your allergy, and eating chocolate is not, strictly speaking, a yeast-free activity.

After about a day, air is allowed into the fermentation process and the bacteria take over.  This is the second stage of cocoa fermentation. 

Chocolate may contain mold.  The cocoa beans are then dried.  This has to be done properly or molds will develop.

After drying, the beans are roasted, then ground into cocoa mass – pure chocolate.  From here it is further processed and other ingredients are added to form the final product (cocoa power, chocolate bars etc.)


So should you eat chocolate if you have a yeast allergy?

The answer is not so easy.  The yeasts used in fermenting chocolate are not the same we are most commonly exposed to in bread, beer and other common foods with yeast in them.  But yeast is still involved.

You will have to use your own discretion when deciding whether or not to eat chocolate.

If you want to be very safe, don’t eat chocolate. 

If you are willing to experiment, try cutting out chocolate for a while, and see if you feel any different, then reintroduce it.  If you decide to do this, be sure that other parts of your life are yeast-free.

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