Shelf Life of Chocolates

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/03/12 04:10:33PM
17 posts

I have a small chocolate business where I produce hand crafted, ganache filled chocolates with a three week shelf life. I have a customer that is requiring a 6 month shelf life. What is the best ingredient to use, in what amounts should I use it and where can I purchase it.


updated by @sadruddin-abdullah: 04/15/15 11:07:02AM
Andrea B
@andrea-bauer
06/03/12 04:59:51PM
92 posts

I am not sure you can extend the shelf life of a ganache-filled chocolate to 6 months. If you could it would require serious chemicals/preservatives. Why does this customer require a 6 month shelf life? I think most people who make chocolates on a small scale want them as fresh and as natural as possible. This may not be the customer for you (I know it is a novel idea, but you don't have to accept every customer that comes along). Good luck.

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/03/12 05:40:21PM
17 posts
ANDREA,
You are absolutely right, I do not have to accept every customer. I wanted to make an effort to understand the possibilities. This customer wants the look of crafted chocolates but is obviously willing to compromise on the freshness based on the nature of the request.
My goal is to understand my options in this regard. What preservatives do the members have experience with, how long will these ingredients extend the shelf life, etc.

Thanks Andrea
Edward J
@edward-j
06/04/12 02:28:17AM
51 posts

When wine ages, the flavour improves. When chocolate and cream/liquids ages, the flavour does not improve. There are various sugars that you can incorporate in your recipie to greatly extend shelf life (See Wybauw's F.C.#3) that probably will give you great shelf life, but you are adding a lot of weird sugars.

Then there are natural sugar rich confections like Italian nougat, pate de fruits or caramel that might give you 6 mths shelf life. Nut based ones too, but nuts tend to go rancid within 6 mths

You can, however succesfully freeze bon-bons and pralines, with a freezer shelf life maximum of 6 mths. It's actually very simple: Vacuum pack the items, refrigerate for 24 hours, then freeze. To thaw, refrigerate for 24 hours, then at room temp for 24 hours, then open the package.

Hope this helps

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/04/12 08:51:21AM
17 posts

Edward

I've located F.C. #3. I think it will provide me with the information I need. Thank you very much for sharing. You have been very helpful.

Bill Tice
@bill-tice
06/09/12 02:03:30PM
10 posts

If they want 6 months, have them buy Godiva. Those things are the Twinkie's of chocolate.

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/09/12 02:51:58PM
17 posts

Thanks Bill.

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/09/12 02:56:15PM
17 posts

Edward

I just got F.C. #3. It answers my questions and much, much, more. Now off to learn more about chocolate, "The Food of the Gods"

Thank you very much

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/09/12 03:25:51PM
46 posts
I think the laws are different in The USA but I have made chem free ganaches even with fresh fruit included in the recipe and they keep a really long time ... but they did have high levels of alcohol ( my Cointreau ganache is one third alcohol with fresh pureed oranges) and I don't think that that is permitted stateside.

There is such a thing as a water ganache which I have made, maybe that with butter added would deceive the taste buds whilst lengthening the shelf life? I believe shrinkage and air pockets are the main issue re mould growth and extra fat will lessen the effects of drying out.

Or as you suggested , let them open up a can of campbell's oops, sorry a box of Godiva :)
rene
@rene
06/09/12 03:46:41PM
23 posts

it's possible...

-good sanitation

-minimize the use of products with high in water

-stabilize recipe withglucose, invert sugar, sorbitol

-use more cocoa solids

-if ingredients allow then heat up to boil

-low storage temperatures

good luck :)

rene

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/10/12 08:24:10AM
17 posts

Hello Paul

You are correct. The laws regarding alcohol are different in the US and other places. In the US the limit is 5%. This is certainly a way to extend shelf life although not enough to extend 6 months.

The water ganache sounds interesting. The challenge is to extend shelf life the water activity level of the ganache must be low. If you would be willing to share the formula it would be worth a test.

As you've indicated, it sounds like the formula would have to be adjusted to lower the aw with extra fat..,interesting proposition.

Thankyou

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/10/12 08:30:00AM
17 posts

Hello Rene

All good points. Certainly your summary included most of the information I've been able to find. My challenge is I've never worked with sorbitol. What is the relationship of the added sugars to the other ingredients and their affect on the ganache? Do you have formulas, or basic percentages I could use as a starting point to begin to develop some formulas for testing?

Thanks

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/10/12 09:00:40AM
46 posts
The levels of alcohol needed are in the realm of 30% and up . My experience with rapid spoiling and fermentation within the ganache were always the result of shrinkage of the ganache filling resulting in a space between the filling and the coating and the effects of non sterile ingredients such as candied ginger and dried ground spices.The open topped ganache filled cups I have in my assortment are prone to drying so I add 25% butter ( although a stable vegetable fat would suffice) and that significantly reduces shrinkage. The water ganache I made 40% boiling water 60% callebaut 8-11 and 2% olive oil... It was wrapped in lubecker almond paste and enrobed and I have cut one open after two months and there was no degradation ...
Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/10/12 09:25:12AM
17 posts

Hello Paul

This is very helpful. While 30% alcohol ganache would be a big hit, it may attract the wrong king of attention.

I understand the point about shrinkage. You often see the bottoms of bon bons curving in which is an example of your point.

The water ganache formula is interesting. Intuitively I would think there is too much water in the water ganache formula. Most of the established thinking indicates a reduction in water. So I am excited to try it. I will definitely the water ganache formula.

Thanks

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/10/12 09:45:46AM
46 posts
I just had to get up during my Sunday coffee to make olive oil water ganache so I can show you ! Ha ha ha
rene
@rene
06/11/12 04:43:40PM
23 posts

dear Abdullah,

sorry i don't have formulas for you, but maybe you can find them in the internet like the other information. i only know what i learned thru practical work in chocolate and pastry school.

good luck.

rene

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/11/12 04:51:13PM
17 posts

So Paul, how did the ganache come out?

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/11/12 04:54:23PM
17 posts

No worries Rene

The community has been very helpful sharing information on this subject. I certainly have enough information to start testing some formulas. The information you've offered really does summarize the available knowledge on the subject.

Thank you

rene
@rene
06/11/12 05:00:10PM
23 posts

you are welcome Abdullah. glad if i could help.

cheers.

rene

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/12/12 06:40:53AM
46 posts
Great.... I posted a picture of it on my Facebook page chocolate-asm by Paul John Kearins . Glossy dark ganache that has a more bold favor without any dairy in there.... Try it out! Note higher percentages of cacao can be used but the risk of separation is there. If that does happen I just put a hand held blender in the ganache and zoom it back together :)
Edward J
@edward-j
06/12/12 09:03:13PM
51 posts

When formulating ganache recipies, you have to remember that even 60% alcohol contains 40% water, butter still contains 12-15% water.

I think the expression "having your cake and eating it too" applies here. You can't have a "good" ganache containing only cream, chocolate, and flavourings last for 6 mths. You must remember that a chocolate shell is still somewhat porous. Think of a wine bottle, a cork is a must as it allows the wine to "breathe", but unlike wine, ganache flavours do not improve with age. I feel this idea of a 6 mth shelf life for a cream ganache is looking for the Holy grail, it doesn't exist.

As per Wybauw youi can use the "weird" sugars, including glycerine and others for a long shelf life.

You can also use shelf stable fats like coconut fat as Lindt does with it's "Lindor balls" to replace cream/butter

You can vacuum pack and freeze "real" ganache bon-bons with the added bonus that frozen articles don't require an ISO 9002 certificate that many retailer demand. The trade off is an un-interrupted frozen transportation cycle.

You can use nuts, nut produts, (marzipan, nut pastes, gianduja, etc) caramel, nougat, pate de fruits, honey, sugar crusted alcohol centers etc. for a long shelf life.

But 6 mths shelf life for a "real" ganache?" I dunnooo.........


updated by @edward-j: 09/11/15 01:04:39PM
Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/12/12 10:22:40PM
17 posts

I think the key word is here is "real ganache." Certainly there will be loss of quality as in flavor and mouthfeel the more sugars and stabilizers you add to the ganache over such extended periods of time.

The question is can you get a reasonable product with an extended shelf life. Maybe the line of what is called reasonable doesn't extend to six months. Maybe it is three, four months, let's see.

I have never used glycerine, sorbitol or some of the other life extending ingredients. With your help and the help of others in this thread I intend to see what can happen.

Can you tell me the shelf life of the crusted alcohol centers?

Thank you Edward

Edward J
@edward-j
06/13/12 01:04:48AM
51 posts

About 6 mths, maybe longer . Basically you make a syrup, add in the booze and pour into starch molds (typically bottle shaped or cigarette shaped). After about 24 hrs, you can take them out, brush off the starch and enrobe.

I'm curious as to where you are located and if you can get away with selling alcohol based confections in your area. And in some places, getting all those "wierd" items is almost impossible. Sorbitol (aka sorbex) is quite impossible to get in B.C., Canada unless I get it in enormous quantities, and the dosage of this is quite precise. Also, remember that many of the "Wierd" sugars are laxative if consumed in moderate quantity. And expensive....

In Wybauw's #2 he tells you how to make invert sugar; simple really, with just sugar and baking soda, but almost as simple is just using pure honey, which is a partially inverted sugar--but it will crystalize eventually.

Basically, shelf life is directly related to the water content (or more accurately water activity) of the item. Dark chocolate by itself has a shelf life of 2 years or even longer simply because it has almost no water in it. Sugar, if kept dry, can last for centuries.

More and more people are starting to realize that with medicine, "new" is not neccesarily better than "time tested".

Keeping that in mind, every nationality/race has age old methods of preserving food. Salting, smoking, sugaring, and drying are all popular--and have been for centuries. They all have in common the fact that water is removed. Raisins, for instance, have a shelf life of years, and have a m/c of about 10%. This is the "zone" where you will get your shelf life.

For me, I always look back, to what is time tested. For instance, the people of India have been using "ghee" for centuries, and one of the main reasons is that it keeps so well. What is "Ghee"? Butter, pure dairy (cow's) butter. But it is butter that has been transformed, it has the remaining 12-15% water removed, it is 100% pure fat, and because of this has a shelf life of well over a year. Time tested, for centuries.

l

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/13/12 06:43:30AM
17 posts

I am in North Carolina. The laws in the US are strict. I think confections are limited to 5 by volume. At the same time it would be good to make to give to friends, etc. I took a class with Chef Wybauw where he make them. The information was on my lap top which got stolen. Does Chef Waybauw cover it in any of his books? It would be great if you could share the formula and method of production.

On the subject of ingredients, I have not yet started looking into the sourcing of ingredients. I am hopeful that I will be able to secure a reasonable amount to start testing. Perhaps I can purchase from someone that has some.

I appreciate the concept of preserving. As you've said, Ghee sounds interesting. I'll start researching that as well.

I think I'll start with a butter ganache, use an invert sugar and possibly the Ghee in replace of the butter and play with the flavorings trying to keep the water activity down. From there play with the Sorbital and other "Wierd" sugars.

Thanks again. I appreciate you help.

Omar Forastero
@omar-forastero
06/15/12 09:59:47AM
86 posts

Hi Sadruddin,

To answer your question about sorbitol addition in ganaches, Ewald Notter mentions in his book that sorbitol should represent 5 to 7% of the total weight of the ganache. More will affect the taste of thte filling.

Hope this helps

Omar

Nick Shearn
@nick-shearn
06/16/12 03:18:53PM
12 posts

As usual, another informative and helpful discussion...

I'm sure we can all agree that, in an ideal world, we would only use fresh ingredients that gave a maximum shelf life of 2-3 weeks and our chocolates would be stored correctly by the customer and eaten within a few days. But once you start producing in any quantity this must surely be very limiting in terms of wastage, keeping on top of expiration dates and the risk of selling something that is no longer fit for consumption. I've played around with glucose and invert sugar which presumably raise the shelf life to somewhere around 6 weeks (a much more acceptable compromise v taste and texture) and, after all, these are natural sugars so shouldn't put customers off.

I'd like to know from those already in business - is there really anything wrong with using these sugars? Do customers really care, or even ask? As I say, I'd love to just use the freshest ingredients without messing about with recipes but I'd like to make this hobby into a business and I think a shelf life of closer to 6 weeks for the enrobed ganaches would give much more flexibility without really affecting in any noticeable way the taste, texture or perception of the customer.

I like the idea of using ghee as well. Has anyone actually tried this?

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/16/12 06:16:19PM
17 posts

Nick you are right. The challenge of earning a living may drive us to understand how to push the limits of what we do while staying true the artisan principles of our craft. I think it is a legitimate question.

On the other hand we know the bulk of the chocolate that will be sold on Valentines Day 2013 is being made now. So we know it is not fresh, and customers are buying it.

For me, if a customer asks for chocolate with a six month shelf life I know he/she doesn't expect it to be fresh. At this point it is a business decision. Is this your customer or not? It can be, it doesn't have to be.

What ever decision we make as entrepreneurs, it must be an informed one. That is why I appreciate this community. What I have learned on this one topic was worth the time it took to ask the question.

You're right, I can't wait to try the Ghee.

Edward J
@edward-j
06/16/12 10:26:44PM
51 posts

I use ghee in two of my pralines, I like it.

I don't use much glucose in my ganaches (I do in my caramels and Ital. nougat).

Invert sugar is quasi "natural" ( you can make it with regular sugar and baking soda as per Wybauw #2) but I don't bother--I use honey. It is a partial invert sugar and will provide shelf life--but it will crystalize after 2-3 mths.

However, longer shelf life, and packaging go hand-in-hand.

Yes, you can make bon-bons with a 6 mth shelf life and sell them to your client within a week of making them. But you can't brush off your hands and say "that's that".

Why does the customer want 6 mth shelf life?

So they can sit on a shelf.

What is the ambient temp of that shelf?

Foriegn odours?

Humidity?

A regular cardboard box won't offer much protection against these evils. Odours are the worst.

Why does all quality chocolate have some form of aluminum in the packaging? Welded seams? Shrink wrapping?

If the client stores the chocolates on a shelf above his esspresso machine, or beside his beverage cooler, he will be calling back in 3 mths to complain they they have melted--even when he knows darn well he shouldn't have--it doesn't hurt to ask, right? If he stores them in a dank, musty basement that smells like mould and wet cardboard, your product will take on this odour if you do not protect it.

You will need to invest just as much money and time in the packaging as you will for the product...

d.a.m.h.i.k.t. ................

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/17/12 06:37:10AM
46 posts
Soooo..... I could start a new thread on shelf life as this has got me thinking. I don't want to hijack your post Abdullah! Or can we continue here?
Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/17/12 06:49:12AM
46 posts
You know your stuff, Edward.... I was thinking about your comment re the water percentage in liquor and was thinking that the extended life of my ganache must therefore be an anomaly ..... I mean , it DOES last a long time . Without losing " freshness" . Then i realised that the liqueurs I have been using, Cointreau , amararetto etc would contain inverted sugars, which have been mentioned here....and I used the Van Wees esprit range contains 80% alcohol ( these are pure flavour distillates of fruits , nuts and flowers) ..... Maybe that's it?
Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/17/12 09:53:34AM
17 posts

It makes sense for those interested in this subject to continue the thread. You can certainly continue here. If you decide to start another thread on shelf life it would be a continuation of this dicsussion, so Paul I think that's your call. Which ever you decide, I am interested in your thoughts.

Sadruddin Abdullah
@sadruddin-abdullah
06/17/12 10:14:32AM
17 posts

Point taken about the comparison between honey and invert sugar. And yes, the point of a 6 months shelf life is so it can sit on the shelf. Thanks

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/17/12 10:16:00AM
46 posts

cool.... because I will be shortly starting up in The USA and have a few clients lined up already. one of which runs a busy Mountain retreat rental co. I am to formulate a line of signature chocolates for their arrival baskets and although the turnover is fast they want a long shelf life.

My product will be mostly organic and fair trade , so the idea of preservatives is a difficult thing to get my head around.
I have been researching since this thread began and i found a company that produces organic antimicrobial preservatives .... all natural. I havent heard back from them but I'm very curious what they have to offer. Also i found that a moisture free emulsion of oil and chocolate would provide the 'mouthfeel' of real ganache without the water induced spoilage .... Gum acacia acts as a good emulsifier/stabiliser and is also a natural product. I would think the end result would be not dissimilar to a chocolate creme/paste/spread..... i will be experimenting .

Edward J
@edward-j
06/17/12 12:18:37PM
51 posts

Ahhh....... may I guide you down the supermarket shelves to "Nutella"? A blend of oil, nut paste (including nut oil) cocoa and lotsa sugar. Smooth enough mouthfeel. This is probably where you can start your research.

Although, I have to split hairs with the definition of "emulsifaction". To the best of my knowledge, emulisifcation requires a fat phase and a water phase, and there is no water in oil and very little (under 1/2%) in chocolate.

But you are right, stick with natural ingredients and you can't go wrong.

Paul John Kearins
@paul-john-kearins
06/17/12 12:33:08PM
46 posts

You are right... on all counts... I was just trying to sound fancy .

my colleagues and I tried to create a stable homemade spread and there was often separation even though no water was present , that's where the emulsifier idea started....

kind of loses something when it's Nutella though! I wish you had said Duo-Penotti :D

Edward J
@edward-j
06/18/12 01:25:34AM
51 posts

How about a classier name, like ferrero rocher?......................

jisimni_mark
@joe-john
10/27/15 08:03:35PM
20 posts

hi, I'm sorry to bring this up again, but it is a very interesting discussion. It appears you are all saying you cannot have quality chocolates with a 6 month shelf life. Whilst I understand what you're saying, I believe it can be achieved. I know an importer of fine chocolates, and one VERY reputable European chocolatier (I won't mention names for privacy sake, but I promise, it's not Godiva or something similar lol) makes chocolates (with ganache and all crazy fillings), with a shelf life of 6 months. These guys have won many presitigious awards in the chocolate industry. The chocolates are manufactured for praline bars in retail shops, so I am lucky to have access to the boxes they come in (where I can see the ingredients). The only "weird" ingredient they use is glucose syrup. Otherwise, it's all natural flavours. And the ganaches are made with cream, too. They are among the best and most natural tasting chocolates I've ever had, and I've sampled a lot of chocolates!

Peter3
@peter3
10/28/15 07:06:38PM
86 posts

Long shelf life of chocolate products (products to be stored at 18-20C) is achieved by formulating recipes in a way that would keep "water activity" low. Product with water activity below 0.6 will not spoil as there is not enough available water for microorganism to multiply (it does not kill them, just stops them reproducing) and there is no need to add any preservatives. 

We make a very wide range of centres like ganaches, fruit based, nut based, with cream (we boil the fresh cream) with shelf life between 4 and 6 months.

 

A bit more info on water activity:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_activity

 

 

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