Fermentation Scientist in the making

Caitlin Clark
@caitlin-clark
07/01/16 01:42:56AM
2 posts

Hi all,

I'm new to Chocolate Life but very excited to have found it.

I work at bean-to-bar maker Nuance Chocolate in Fort Collins, Colorado, and in addition to that I am doing graduate work in the Fermentation Science program at Colorado State.  My goal is to pursue cacao fermentation as a specialty and as a career. 

I have read everything I can find about cacao fermentation, but there is much that is still unknown and even more that is unpublished.  If anyone wants to talk fermentation, I would be very, very eager to engage.  No one is really "teaching" this stuff, so I'm on the lookout for any type of contact, resource, or information.  I am beginning to form some ideas about the direction I'd like to take my studies, but I'd really like to hear from people who know more than I do.  What are the "big holes"?  What information do we most need?  What about the fermentation process is being missed or overlooked?  What are some potential research projects?  What would you bean-to-bar makers like to study yourselves, if you could, but don't have time to?  What have you wondered about?  What connections would you like to see made?  What connections have YOU made, or guessed about, but can't prove? 

Hope there is some reaction this--I know what I think about some of these things, but would really like to hear from others in the business. 

Can't waiit to dive into all the good info that's on this forum!

Cait

Clay Gordon
@clay
07/03/16 02:51:32PM
1,680 posts

Caitlin - 

Congrats on your journey of discovery ... though I do have to disagree that no one is teaching this stuff. The project I am working on in Mexico includes Zoi Papalexandratou, who has a PhD in cacao fermentation from the University of Brussels. You can go see the results of her work at the Ingemann post-processing center in Las Maderas, Nicaragua. Ingemann offers six different fermentation protocols from the same varietal (Chuno).

There is growing understanding of the contribution of the base chemistry of the bean and the pulp, and how that interacts with the species of yeasts, acetobacter, and lactobacillus that dominant in the region.

I would recommend searching for Zoi's name for research papers she has (co-)authored and then look for papers published by the other cited researchers. You'll see that there is a lot of work being done in this area and that some of that research is being put into production around the world.

In my experience, bean-to-bar chocolate makers need more training on what "properly fermented" truly means ... as the accepted standard of "80% well-fermented probably only applies to bulk varietals destined to be be made into chocolate for mass-market chocolate candies.

:: Clay




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Sebastian
@sebastian
07/05/16 06:42:11PM
754 posts

I would say that the chemistry and microbiology of fermentation is very, very well understood.  It may not be public knowledge that is freely available, but it's quite well understood.  If you are looking to do something that has not yet been done, I'd not focus here.

Where I see the industry eventually moving to is an industrialized modernization of fermentation, much like how wine is produced. Stainless tanks, controlled oxygenation and headspace, temperature control via jacketing, etc. Some in the industry are already thinking in this direction, but to my knowledge no one has begun the work on it on a large scale.  That might be something to begin exploring.

Caitlin Clark
@caitlin-clark
07/05/16 07:36:12PM
2 posts

Thank you both for those responses!  That is a lot of useful information and I appreciate it. 

Cait

Sebastian
@sebastian
07/06/16 08:37:35PM
754 posts

The other thing that comes to mind would be to focus on the impact of alcohol soluble micro-nutrients and self-reducible metals in the fermentation heap.

Steven Appleton
@steven-appleton
07/12/16 05:35:14PM
2 posts

Sebastian:

I would say that the chemistry and microbiology of fermentation is very, very well understood.  It may not be public knowledge that is freely available, but it's quite well understood.  If you are looking to do something that has not yet been done, I'd not focus here.

Where I see the industry eventually moving to is an industrialized modernization of fermentation, much like how wine is produced. Stainless tanks, controlled oxygenation and headspace, temperature control via jacketing, etc. Some in the industry are already thinking in this direction, but to my knowledge no one has begun the work on it on a large scale.  That might be something to begin exploring.

I love the idea of introducing controlled, modern fermentation techniques (along with drying and storing), but can/will the market support the added costs of equipment and training in the poor rural communities where fermentation occurs? 

Sebastian
@sebastian
07/13/16 06:39:00AM
754 posts

Grapes used to be grown on the hillsides of farmers in Israel 3000 years ago, and crushed by stepping on them by farmers who were subsistence level.  Today they're processed in state of the art industrial complexes.

If the demand is there, and it comes with either an improvement in quality, control, or cost - sure.  

Clay Gordon
@clay
07/13/16 07:26:33PM
1,680 posts

Steve: 

Post-harvest processing of cacao happens at many different scales, from very small to very large. Ironically, it is the smallest producers who might benefit most from improving the consistency of fermentation and drying ... and they are the least able to afford it. However, one way to figure out how to drive down costs is to start somewhere and put the equipment and techniques into production.




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Steven Appleton
@steven-appleton
07/14/16 11:25:18AM
2 posts

Clay Gordon:

Steve: 

Post-harvest processing of cacao happens at many different scales, from very small to very large. Ironically, it is the smallest producers who might benefit most from improving the consistency of fermentation and drying ... and they are the least able to afford it. However, one way to figure out how to drive down costs is to start somewhere and put the equipment and techniques into production.

Indeed, I should take action and see where it leads. Thanks.

Daniel Haran
@daniel-haran
07/16/16 05:22:26PM
49 posts

Sebastian:

The other thing that comes to mind would be to focus on the impact of alcohol soluble micro-nutrients and self-reducible metals in the fermentation heap.

Can you elaborate on this? Googling for self-reducibility doesn't really enlighten (and gets me a lot of computer science results)

Sebastian
@sebastian
07/16/16 11:02:19PM
754 posts

inter cellular transport of materials is responsible for much of the flavor development reactions that occur (or the precursor reactions).  metallic compounds participate in a number of flavor reactions.

Daniel Haran
@daniel-haran
07/17/16 11:08:28AM
49 posts

Ah, that makes sense, thanks.

I'm shocked reading papers from 70 years ago that are asking the same questions as I had visiting processing centres last week - and not finding much that's published since or that would explain why the state of the art hasn't visibly changed much.

Besides Zoi's papers suggested by Clay, are there other starting points to our modern understanding of what happens in fermentation?

Sebastian
@sebastian
07/17/16 08:31:18PM
754 posts
A good source of information that often escapes people's radar are PhD thesis'.
tjulia026
@tjulia026
09/08/16 04:13:41AM
1 posts

Hello guys I am new here. There is something really interesting topics which I want to know and discuss about them.

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