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We are Rutger Lem and Ellen Ligteringen - husband and wife team - both totally fond of taste and flavour. Rutger has a background as an art historian, Ellen as a visual artist. To us cacaomaking is like composing an art piece of taste.

Tan Bun Skrati was established in 2010. Although Suriname has a long tradition in growing and processing cacao, both as home craft as well as exporting for overseas industries, almost all activity had vanished by the time we started our enterprise.

Ellen knows the tradition of Surinamese cacao making from her mother and grandmother. They prepared cacao for a hot cacao drink called ‘skrati’. This usage was common and widespread in Suriname until the advent in the 1950’s of imported chocolate and cocoa powder. Up to then most people used to have a tree in their yards to pick pods from for their homemade cacao. Tan Bun Skrati has her roots in this tradition.

From skrati to chocolate
When Ellen started she only had this information from her mother and elderly people to draw from. This way of cacao making is rooted deeply in family tradition. How the cacao is supposed to taste is determined by the way mother, grandmother en great-grandmother were used to make it. That’s your point of reference.

In the beginning our product wasn’t very consistent from batch to batch. Sometimes it was very bitter, other times way too high in acidity. Even when we used beans of the same tree!
It was after we contacted the Cocoa Research Centre in Trinidad in 2011 and got trained by them that we were able to better understand the intricacies of tree-to-bar cacao making. Thanks to their ongoing online support - and more recently to the hands-on training by an oenologist from Canada - we were able to refine our knowledge of especially the post-harvesting techniques.

As chocolatemakers we now start nurturing the flavour already at the stages of breeding and sanitizing of the trees. Fermenting and drying are key for developing the rich and fine flavour profil that allows for us to finally work the Surinamese Trinitario into high end quality products.

We like to develop new products: bars with high cacao percentages, truffles and pralines in various flavours made with fresh local Amazonian ingredients. Because we work from the fruit on the tree, we’re able to also make less common cacao products and make the rich palette of flavours of the whole cacao fruit come to the fore in its entirety. Like tea, brewed from the husk of the roasted beans. The latest addition to our assortment is cacaowine-vinegar, a culinary vinegar made from fermented fresh pulp. Participants at our workshop can already taste it.

By making chocolate and unconventional cacao-derived products we are preserving tradition by making it dynamic and up to par with today’s standards and environment. Tree-to-bar chocolate making is an open-ended practice in which you never stop learning.

"There's more to cacao than chocolate"
Copyrights Lem Ligteringen 2020, E-mail: info@tanbun.org