FCIA Fine Chocolate Glossary


Winnowing (in chocolate) is the process of removing the husk from the cocoa bean, leaving behind nibs that can be further processed to make chocolate.

Winnowing is an important step in chocolate making as the husk can have an impact on the flavor and texture of finished chocolate. In addition, the husk can contain contaminants like heavy metals or aflatoxins.

Cocoa beans consist of three main parts: the nibs, the husk, and the radicle (sometimes referred to as the germ). In order to make chocolate, the husk must be removed before refining the nibs. While it is possible to grind the nibs without removing the husk (sometimes called “Whole bean chocolate”), the FDA allows no more than 1.75% of husk by weight to be legally labelled as chocolate within the United States.

There are many different ways to remove the husk, the simplest method being simply removing them by hand. Roasted beans can be hand cracked and the shell manually removed. Alternatively, the beans could be crushed (e.g. contained in a bag and hit or crushed with a rolling pin) and then the pieces of shell can be picked out individually. This can be very time consuming and not practical beyond a very small scale.

Winnowing can also be achieved with a hair dryer or fan. Basically after crushing (or cracking) the beans into the constituent nibs and husk, you blow air through the mixture. The shell, being lighter, will blow away leaving the heavy nibs behind. This requires some technique to move the nibs and husks around to allow for air flow.

In addition, it’s possible to build a simple winnowing machine using fans and/or vacuums and a series of pipes. In addition, commercial winnowers at many different throughput ranges.

Próximamente versión en español

Winnowing cocoa beans, How to Make Chocolate at Home, Chocolate Alchemy

Entry Added: September 14, 2023
Verified on: December 14, 2023

Authored by

Todd Masonis, Co-founder, Dandelion Chocolate
Chocolate maker


Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S’more, Todd Masonis, Greg D’ Alesandre, Lisa Vega and Molly Gore, New York: Clarkson Potter, 2017.

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