Forum Activity for @Powell and Jones

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
11/06/16 06:40:47PM
30 posts

spots of adherence in polycarbonate bar moulds


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

[quote="Thomas Snuggs"]

Hi Dominique,

Here's a link to my setup at home when I cool my chocolate bars. I use some small racks that will hold six molds. I've also put this rack in my refrigerator if it's too hot to let the bars cool on the counter. I thought this might help.

http://chocolatetalk.proboards.com/thread/1733/small-scale-cooling-racks-chocolate

-Thomas

Hi Thomas.....

Betty Crocker is your friend! Good find.... Looks like a handy small scale set up, guess it depends on how warm the room is and the time you have...  We are currently making 200+ bars an hour, next on my wish list,  a vertical cooling tunnel like the one FBM offer.

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
11/05/16 09:18:55PM
30 posts

spots of adherence in polycarbonate bar moulds


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

[quote="dominique"]

Thanks for your reply Powell.

You're saying that the temper is off, and I would really like to know what helps you see that in the picture. I don't understand this tempering issue, as I'm using a Chocovision tempering machine. It seems to me that what could bring the chocolate out of temper is a part of the process that does not involve the machine.

What you're saying about the moulds and cooling is very interesting, thank you. I put the moulds directly on fridge shelves, which are glass shelves and not racks. But I feel this is more a cooling issue than a tempering one (even if I can of course be completely wrong!). 

How would you proceed to cool the chocolate ? Do you leave it for the whole process in the fridge ? Or do you let them cool at room temp (what temp?) after a specific time in the cold. What's the temp of your cooling device ?

Thanks a lot for helping me.

Dominique

Without detailed knowledge of what you are doing any 'free advice' is fairly worthless...

However,  the temper was checked how? Just 'cos your machine tells you it is 'ready' doesn't always mean the chocolate is in 'good temper'.  I can see some inclusions which are unmixed chocolate? which is why I  say that the temper may not be good?

If you read my first reply again, I am also saying it's in part a cooling issue.   If you are certain your chocolate is good temper, look at the molding and cooling  conditions.   Was the mold pre-warmed before filling? 

Glass shelves......The cool air of your fridge likely needs to be able to get to the bottom side of these molds to allow the latent heat of crystalization to be removed.   (That's what is being generated when chocolate is being moves from a 'liquid' to a 'more solid' form).     We use wire racks not sheet pans or glass shelves, my commercial set up also has fans in it.  With molds placed on sheet pans we have seen areas of molds cool at different rates.  The chocolate needs to stay in the cool long enough for it to set to the point it is starting to come away from the mold.   Just look at the underside and compare an uncooled mold with one that's spent time in the fridge. 

You just need to figure out a set of conditions that work for the chocolate you have and the equipment you are using... Again, experimentation is the answer not somewhat random advice off the internet... (:-)

Just remelt your 'failures' and try until you get it right.....

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
11/05/16 05:08:15PM
30 posts

spots of adherence in polycarbonate bar moulds


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Dominique, 

The temper is probably off looking at the pictures,  but I suspect the root of the 'problem areas'  is seen in one of the pictures you attached.   These molds have a plastic ridge underneath to stiffen the mold.   This is resulting in the cooling rate of the 'sticky' section under the plastic ridge to not be the same as the other areas of the mold.  A fixed temp fridge is unfortunately a poor alternative to a cooling tunnel where the temperature is ramped down during the movement through the tunnel.   You may find leaving the mold in longer helps or not!

It's something that we have dealt with by selecting molds that don't have these sorts of plastic bars under them.  A real cooling set up (tunnel) may not be as problematic but an inexpensive solution is to avoid certain mold styles.  

Do you use sheet pans with the molds placed on them or just place filled molds directly on the wire racks in the Fridge?  That can also make a difference in cooling rate and cause uneven cooling spots.  

You need to determine the correct time to have the molds in the cool also......

Good Luck

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
04/21/16 02:13:51PM
30 posts

What on earth do the Mast Brothers have planned next?


Posted in: Opinion


Perhaps they will now develop new packaging and labels to go with the new factory?

Clearly, flying 'close to the Sun' is their business model?  Not a good idea if your a chocolate maker or any kind of food company,  but actually MB aren't the only ones,  just apparently one that's blatant in terms of dodging some of the requirements?  

All fun and games, until someone suffers a serious allergy issue or there's a State / Federal recall issued as part of investigation of a food borne illness /allergy complaint. 

If I was a potential investor in this business or any other craft maker, I'd have required FDA label compliance as part of the due diligence before funding an operation that is designed to produce millions of bars and place them in interstate commerce.  In particular, as I know having purchased a very expensive policy that liability / recall insurance doesn't cover a claim if selling misbranded / mislabeled goods and most knowledgeable retailers wouldn't be prepared to stock the products either.

More generally, I'd question how many craft chocolate makers making and selling in the USA are fully FDA compliant?    I suspect there are a few that aren't and probably don't even know they are required to register with FDA etc?   The lack of funds for Federal agencies like the FDA means they don't do proactive enforcement, their model for food related issues is to come in after the problem and tackle GMP and other issues that relate to food safety.   Not likely to change anytime soon, so many firms just carry on as usual,  knowing the risk of action is rather low absent a consumer or public health complaint.


updated by @Powell and Jones: 04/21/16 03:04:24PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
04/20/16 11:11:57PM
30 posts

FDA Packaging Guidelines for Chocolate???


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Thomas Snuggs:

I have an update about my Organic Ingredients question. I contacted www.ccof.com to inquire about oOrganic certification and they told me I did not require certification for what I want to do. I quote from their email response:

"If all you want to do is list the organic ingredients in the FDA-required ingredient list, and not use the word organic anywhere else on your label, you do not need to be certified."

This is what I thought and was surprised by County Health Department when they told me I could not. 

As we both wrote Organic on the Front LABEL.... Certification required.  Apparently for the  FDA ingredient panel only: something like:    Cacao*, Cane sugar*,  Cocoa Butter*      *organic  is acceptable..... However,  it's not much of a marketing hook printed in 1/16" type on the back of bar and you can't mention 'contains organic ingredients' on the rest of the packaging.    

The cost of certification might be something to investigate, think you will find it may not be as expensive as you think, but does require good record keeping and annual inspection in most States.

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
04/20/16 02:42:49AM
30 posts

FDA Packaging Guidelines for Chocolate???


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


Thomas, I think the advice you were given by CDPH is correct. Specifically: Organic Chocolate is regulated food product in California, rules enforced by CDPH,  think you will find if your gross sales are over $5000 and you have organic in your label (even made with organic...) you are required to register  see:

ORGANIC OVERSIGHT - LAWS AND REGULATIONS:

Laws relating to the handling of organic foods are codified in the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the California Organic Products Act of 2003 (COPA), and the National Organic Program (NOP) Regulations (which California adopts).

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) work cooperatively with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce the organic regulations within California.  CDPH oversees processors and handlers of organic food, pet food, and cosmetics, and CDFA oversees organic agricultural production, milk and dairy food processing, meat and poultry processing, and retail organic production activities.

If an operation’s annual gross sales of organic food is greater than $5,000 they are required to obtain certification from an accredited third party certifier, who will verify the sourcing of the agricultural inputs, verify the organic content of processed products, and ensure that operations are conforming with NOP regulations

Organic is a term that indicates that the food or agricultural product has been produced using sustainable practices and without synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering.  Products may be labeled “100% organic”, “organic” or “made with organic.” 

Food products labeled as “100% organic” must consist entirely of organic ingredients; food products labeled “organic” must consist of 95% certified organic ingredients; and food products labeled “made with organic” must contain at least 70% certified organic ingredients (minus water and salt).  Food products containing 95% or more organic content may use the USDA Organic Logo on their product labels or advertising.  Unless exempted or excluded under the National Organic Program (NOP) rules, all organic food products must be certified by an accredited certifying agency (ACA), and the ACA must be identified on the product label.


updated by @Powell and Jones: 04/20/16 02:49:20AM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
04/19/16 07:58:52PM
30 posts

What on earth do the Mast Brothers have planned next?


Posted in: Opinion


Interestingly, the Mast Bros have an FDA exemption filed which expires 11/05/2016.

The current FDA guidance pasted below, as I thought it might be interesting to some, actually raises some other questions.... Retailer exemption,  versus small wholesaler and product type.

Upon reading the rule it appears that sales of more than 100,000 units per year triggers a requirement for the mandated labeling.   A lawyer specializing in FDA regs could perhaps argue that each type of bar warrants an exemption as a different item, but personally I think knocking out several hundred thousand bars a year under the same brand name is probably the point at which you will need to start nutritional labeling.

Section 403(q) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that packaged foods and dietary supplements bear nutrition labeling unless they qualify for an exemption.

Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR) 101.9(j)(1) and 21 CFR 101.9(j)(18) outline the requirements for a small business nutrition labeling exemption for foods. The small business nutrition labeling exemption requirements for dietary supplements are outlined in 21 CFR 101.36(h)(1) and 21 CFR 101.36(h)(2).

The nutrition labeling exemptions found in 21 CFR 101.9(j)(1) and 21 CFR 101.36(h)(1) apply to retailers with annual gross sales of not more than $500,000, or with annual gross sales of foods or dietary supplements to consumers of not more than $50,000. For these exemptions, a notice does not need to be filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The nutrition labeling exemptions for low-volume products found in 21 CFR 101.9(j)(18) and 21 CFR 101.36(h)(2) apply if the person claiming the exemption employs fewer than an average of 100 full-time equivalent employees and fewer than 100,000 units of that product are sold in the United States in a 12-month period. For these exemptions, a notice must be filed annually with FDA.

If a person is not an importer, and has fewer than 10 full-time equivalent employees, that person does not have to file a notice for any food product with annual sales of fewer than 10,000 total units.

A "product" is a food or dietary supplement in any size package; which is manufactured by a single manufacturer or which bears the same brand name; which bears the same statement of identity, and which has similar preparation methods.

A "unit" is a package, or if unpackaged, the form in which the product is offered for sale to consumers.

A "firm" includes all domestic and international affiliates.


updated by @Powell and Jones: 04/19/16 07:59:33PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
04/19/16 07:28:43PM
30 posts

What on earth do the Mast Brothers have planned next?


Posted in: Opinion

That's a lot of chocolate bars, estimating they will need to shift at least 35,000 bars a month to generate that sort of gross profit, let alone get a return on investment.  The FDA annual sales cut off  for labeling exemption is $500k total, I believe.  Clearly, as you mention the turn over is going to be way above.  Actually, the MB aren't the only US based craft maker ramping up sales volume.  Resultantly, I'd predict that all craft makers can increasingly expect FDA enforcement action on misbranded / deficiently labelled product, particularly if any food borne illness or undeclared allergy issues occur.  

The 2016 introduction of the FDA's FSMA act brings us all further into their viewfinder, even small firms will need to take steps to implement the required sourcing controls in 2017 - 18. The FSMA was in part a response to salmonella outbreaks (all be it salad and peanut related) but given that raw cacao is an imported item that can be be a source of salmonella sp.,  we will need to deal with the requirements of the FSMA.   

Interestingly, MB  also now make / sell bars in my old home town, London UK.  The existing EU labeling rules would apply to them in the UK I assume?   Don't craft makers in the UK have to label per EU rules?   Anyone bought a MB UK bar recently, does it have the required nutritional / allergy and best by info I wonder?  

For point of reference, I'm looking at some Willie's Cacao bars my wife brought me home from a recent UK trip, full ingredient and nutritional panel / allergy warning and production lot date and best by date.    Isn't this minimum required?   

Thoughts / comments

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
03/22/16 02:10:15AM
30 posts

DIY Easy build full sheet pan - 6 Mold shaker for bar molds Save $1500!


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


Thomas Snuggs:

Hi Mark,

I built a vibrating table with a much smaller motor, a little too small, but my table is only for two molds. See here: Vibrating table. I purchased the motor as listed in your post and I just tried it out tonight. It was quite comical. Something like trying to play whack-a-mole except I was chasing the mold around my small table to fill it with chocolate. I fill my molds using a 2oz scoop with chocolate from a melter. I even had the speed on the new motor as low as I could go without it stopping. I'm going to adjust the blades in the motor to calm it down a little. 

On a positive note, I don't think the chocolate that I just molded will have any air bubbles. Happy

-Thomas


Hi Thomas.   I warned in my post it was a bit of a beast!  Set the blades for 11% Fc and it should be good, you may have got away with using a MVE21 series motor and they are a little bit less expensive....  Still better too much shaking rather than not enough go!    MJ


updated by @Powell and Jones: 03/22/16 02:12:26AM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
03/20/16 06:22:39PM
30 posts

Getting Strong Ganache Flavor and Shelf Life


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Jim,  Just so we don't confuse folks:

While it's true that a simple chocolate ganache (cream/chocolate) with an aW below <0.85 is going to take longer to spoil that one at aW >0.9, basically the target of aW<0.85 is to prevent the outgrowth of pathogens (i.e. aW <0.95) and at aW <0.85 inhibit spoilage by most yeasts. Just because a food has a aW <0.85 doesn't mean it is 'stable' just unlikely to harbor pathogens, and less likely to ferment at RT.

Are you making homemade fruit puree?  aW 0.93? What's the final pH and the starting and final Brix?

What one can make as a pastry chef and serve 'fresh' to diners versus something that can legally be sold in Interstate or even in-state commerce is of course quite different.  Notter's recipes are fine flavoured but are not developed with production, storage and offsite sales in mind.

Regarding your two layer 'jelly' product:

In many States and per the FDA's  food safety rules;  Jam and Jelly / fruit sryups should have a pH <4.0 and or an aW <0.8 - 0.85 to be regarded as a non-hazardous food stuff.     It's my understanding that 'Pate de fruit'  made with commercial Brix 10 starting puree and cane sugar typically fits the bill here, given the final Brix after boiling, and low pH levels following pectin/ tartaric / citric acid addition.  I've never measured the aW of PdF,  but it lasts at RT for months if stored dusted in sugar in sealed containers.

FYI: Outside of the pH and aW parameters above,  typically to make and sell legally a 'jelly' in the USA you to need to attend an 'approved food processing school' and follow the FDA rules which most States now also follow as you could be making a potential hazardous food for resale.   You also need to register with FDA.

Considering your 'Jelly' layer:

According to the the experts, in certain situations with some foodstuffs the relationship between total moisture content and or aW is not necessarily directly predictive of shelflife.  According to the reference materials I have seen, for jams and fruit syrups <0.8 aW is the level necessary to stop most moulds and bacteria such a S. Aureus.  Fruit jams (e.g. your pate de fruit layer?) may be such that halophilic bacteria could grow even at just aW 0.75. (hence pH adjustment is typically necessary for ensuring food safety).   Did you add acid during production e.g. citric acid with the pectin?     When water activity of a food stuff like a gel is likely not a good predictor of shelf life or even protection from microbiological spoilage, a shelf life study and or challenge trial with the formulation to determine food safety /spoilage may be needed.  

Plus, in a two layer product one with a component with relatively high moisture content (gel - pate de fruit into ganache?) there may be some water migration, which can both change texture and also allow aquired free water to promote spoilage in another fraction with an initially low aW.  I've seen a thin layer of cocoa butter sometimes suggested to prevent migration between layer confections.

Potential Changes to PdF:

Dextrose would lower the aW some, sorbitol would only modestly lower the aW (taste changes) ditto for adding more invert (too sweet?).   n.b. You are already getting some invertion of sucrose during the boiling stage assuming you are boiling the fruit?  If the pH is <4.X  you may already have a 'safe' product... (n.b.  not a binding opinion just a projection)

Sidenote: Actually, Glycerol has a greater antimicrobiological effect at the same aW than Sorbitol, hence may commercial praline formulae therefore use both Sorbitol and Glycerol (both taste horrible in ganache in my view,)  I'm not sure they would do much in your jelly?)

Several ways to potentially 'improve' this formulation....Drive off some water increasing the Brix of the initial fruit component, use some dextrose as well as sucrose (perhaps you could even use freeze dried fruit), decrease the pH <ph 4.0 using citric acid (legal requirement + may help taste too), add Sorbic acid or better Ca Sorbate to the fruit, consider perhaps adding some Benzoate.

There's science and food safety considerations behind those ingredients one finds on the label.   No doubt the militant 'vegan liberation front' will be along shortly to tell us all how they turn green and spotty if they eat chocolates /jam with 'preservatives'......  Wink  

Bottomline:   You're perhaps in search of a bit of a unicorn, i.e.  A simple formulation without additives that has a 'long shelflife'.  

Good Luck

Mark

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
03/16/16 05:24:29PM
30 posts

DIY Easy build full sheet pan - 6 Mold shaker for bar molds Save $1500!


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


[quote="Daniel Haran"]

Can you link to the exact motor and springs you bought? Thanks :)

Daniel,

Here's the specifications:

OLI Vibrator: MVE.0041.36.115 Electric Vibrator Motor, Single Phase, 2 Poles, 3,600 RPM, 60 Hz, 115 Volt, 143.30 Lb Output Force ( *adjustable)   

This may be a wee bit too powerful in truth, but better too much force than not enough.  n.b. Adjustable with blade rotation and or the router speed control.  It's also important to note the Fc these produce is different depending on the electrical supply frequency  i.e.  50 Hz (Most of the planet Wink) versus 60Hz (USA).   You get considerably more Fc (centrifugal force) at 60Hz versus 50Hz) so it is possible in the States that the smaller (cheaper) MVE 21 series motors may also be suitable?  However, I've not tested one on this set up.

* Setting the blades inside the motor: Turning 4 blades... (see instructions with motor) provides a 16# centrifugal force, (11.1% of maximum Fc) this setting in combination with the springs I used seems good.  Tested as supplied the motor could probably vibrate an entire 6' x 4' kitchen table. Now there's an idea....!

Springs:   Part Number    C08500922250S
Compressed Length    1.413  inches Outside Diameter    0.85  inches
Wire Diameter    0.092  inches  Spring Rate    25.32 Inch Pounds Load Capacity    16.98  pounds  Overall Length    2.25  inches Size    0.85"
Material Type    stainless_steel_302
Specification Met    AMS 5688 , ASTM A313                                                       Number of Items    10
UNSPSC Code    31161904
Currently Backordered Sad on Amazon, Pack of 10 - $23 when available.

I made the bushings to hold the 4 springs such that there is about 1" free on each of coils, this clearly modifies the relative spring rate,  but again seems to work well.

Have fun! and if you build one be sure post details....

Mark


updated by @Powell and Jones: 03/16/16 05:25:30PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
03/11/16 08:48:38PM
30 posts

Adding Nibs to Grindeur/Pre-grinding Help


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Need more heat on the stones / drum?     I currently use a Robot Coupe to pre-grind part of the batch, once you have some liquid and frictional heat being generated then just adding nibs slowly works if everything is warm enough,   A s/h RC  would be around $700 - 1000

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
03/11/16 06:25:19PM
30 posts

DIY Easy build full sheet pan - 6 Mold shaker for bar molds Save $1500!


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


Hi Folks,

Just posted a comment on another topic regarding building a DIY cocoa butter press.... that's not something I'd ever try although I've got a full workshop with a welder, lathe etc available.  

But still, in the spirit of DIY,  here's something both useful and relatively easy to make,  I've attached two photos of the 6 mold shaker I built this week.  I looked to buy a similar set up and it was going to be $2000!  My version uses the same Oli brand vibration motor I found under one of my purchased commercially made single mold shakers (Catalog price 1000 Euro!) 

This bigger version cost me less than $400 and a few hours of messing around in my workshop. Main parts needed:  One Aluminum NSF marked 18 x 28" sheet pan, some 1" stainless tubing, plastic joints and some fasteners etc., along with a 18 x 26 Silpat mat.   The vibration motor and compression springs were $220 on Amazon and the rest of the parts were found / sourced locally.   I even fitted a cheap router speed control ($7 at Harbor Freight) to make the thing fully adjustable.     Using my lathe I machined 4 sets of bushings for the springs and also a piece of tooling to countersink the mounting screws in the sheet pan, apart from that only hand tools needed.... Mainly a big hammer to fit the plastic frame joints!

Looking forward to being able to vibrate 6 filled bar molds at a time,  also good for Easter eggs etc.     If anyone wants details,  send me a message and I'll provide more detailed info....

MJ


WP_20160310_16_12_25_Pro.jpg WP_20160310_16_12_25_Pro.jpg - 393KB

updated by @Powell and Jones: 03/13/16 01:47:41PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
03/11/16 05:30:54PM
30 posts

Mini Cacao Butter press for Small Scale Single Origin Chocolate & Artisan Cacao Butter production


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques



There really isn't a good / cheap option at the scale you want to produce.  Making a few hundred grams of CB using one of the chinese made electric electric 'oil' press devices is possible. For a few hundred dollars I suspect they won't last long?  There are some Taiwanese built 100T cacao presses out there, I've no personal experience of them, looks like they could work and make several kilos a day, you would need 3phase power and a strong floor they weigh a couple of tons at least.

Scaling up is both difficult and and expensive.  You simply wouldn't get the level of production (25#/ day) you want from any home brewed set up built using a cheap automotive bearing press.  You need far more force and some means to heat the pressing pot in a controlled way and also some safety screening.  I've built a lot of my own bean to bar set up,  but personally wouldn't bother to try to build a DIY press using a chinese HF 12 T press etc...sure, OK for pressing the wheel bearings off a rear axle, but simply not up to delivering the force necessary to extract cocoa butter efficiently or safely.    

I do admire the home brew crew and in certain parts of the world using a gas blow lamp on the outside of a pot made from an old diesel truck engine cylinder, a metal slug and some old cacao sacking and a hand jack powered automotive press does appear to be a means to produce small quantities of CB of unknown quality?  Personally, don't think this would fly with food safety / insurance etc here in the States, certainly wouldn't meet, State or Federal GMP food codes.

You do really need to both preheat the liquor and heat the pressing chamber to ensure efficient extraction - 25% or better.)  There's complex machining and or welding involved in making a safe (proofed) pressure pot capable of withstanding the massive force being applied. The cost of the billet material needed would likely suprise you.   You need a perforated follower, CB recovery system and a heating system.  The food contact surfaces need to be 304 / 316 stainless or better, and the press frame etc needs to be NSF food safe powder coat, not some potentially cadium or lead containing chinese paint or powder coat.  Electrical needs to be EL code etc.  need a safety screen around the press to protect staff from injury etc,

The Cacao Cucina systems appear built and designed by a company that knows how to design and build this sort of item to comply with the standards and safety norms. They are USA based hence relatively expensive, is there any other viable alternative currently?  Also consider the specs.....

The Lab Cocoa press uses a 75T press as the 'engine', that's a heavy duty bit of kit.   FYI:  Just the cost of a decent quality DAKE brand 75T 'workshop press' is around $9 - 10K.  The 5kg scale Cacao Cucina press apparently uses a dual action 200T press, these cost at least $25K. These items also weigh 1500 - 2600#  can your floors take the load, do you have the necessary space and electrical?   

Even if you manage to build something (cheaper?)  according to the Cacao Cucina specs their 200T model can only process a 5kg batch of liquor, assuming a decent yield of CB that's just over a kilo of CB per batch!  Are you going to run that device 10-12 times a day to obtain 25# or hire a staff member to do it, while you continue with your 'day job' of making chocolate and running the rest of your business?

Why not do the return on investment calculation?   i.e.  Is being able to press CB from you own cacao a critical aspect of your business model?  If yes,  What's the cost of investment needed?  Can I obtain a loan to purchase the necessary kit hire the staff to produce at the daily scale needed.  What is the ROI / pay back timeframe?

Good Luck!  and please be very careful if you go DIY 

Mark


updated by @Powell and Jones: 03/11/16 10:14:27PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/29/16 06:27:04PM
30 posts

Looking to purchase 65lb grinder/melanger


Posted in: Classifieds

Hello Clay,

Thanks for the useful info and insights,  sounds like I'll be ordering a 50L Kleego to try out.  I've already decided to move away from stone grinding for production,  I would have to agree with all of the limitations you mention for the smaller grinders. Yes, the revolving drum driven by a powerful 1- 1.5hp motor in the larger versions is a potential OSHA /Liability issue to my mind too.

With a Kleego I will be able to use a data logging system to profile the conching process, another useful feature of this particular set up.  I don't have an option for a larger Conche 100L - 250L set up yet until we move downstairs, but the faster throughput of the Kleego will work for us presently.... I'll keep you posted....

Cheers   Mark

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/12/16 06:04:47PM
30 posts

Looking to purchase 65lb grinder/melanger


Posted in: Classifieds

Clay Gordon: FBM introduced a new machine at SIGEP that I helped them design - the >> RUMBO <<.

The design is a hybrid of the Indian wet grinder and a traditional Lehmann melanger. The bowl and the base are fixed and the grinding stones turn. The grinding stones are direct-drive: no belts or chains, and the motor is variable-speed.

The base and the grinding stones are also made of real granite. The people who cut the stones for the RUMBO are the same people who cut the stones to repair actual Lehmann melangers. The grinding stones weigh 45kg each as well.

Perhaps more importantly, the RUMBO incorporates a forced hot air mechanism into the design. You can heat the stones and base before you start grinding so that the fat starts to liquefy more or less immediately. Furthermore, you can keep the air blowing while refining (or not) your choice.

Also, the machine unloads itself. There is an opening in the side of the machine and the scrapers push the chocolate out of this opening. No more tipping the bowl and having to reach in to scrape the chocolate out. The bowl is in two parts and is removable so you can reach the innards for cleaning.

Finally, it's price competitive with a fully-loaded CocoaTown 65. About 10% more. Rated batch capacity is 40 liters, but the bowl is 120L. The more chocolate you put in the machine the longer the processing time. We are looking at ~24 hours to grind/refine to the desired particle size, then transfer to a Kleego50 for conching (in under three hours).

If anyone is interested, please send me a private note and I will send you the catalog page.

Hi Clay,  That's one heavy looking beast, should last a long time!   

Please tell me more about the Kleego 50 / 100,  I got some info and brochures recently from Tom at TCF.    Installed units Stateside currently?

Private note if you prefer.  

Thanks   Mark

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/12/16 05:44:45PM
30 posts

Premier Wonder Grinder Help


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

timwilde: And yes, the expoxies are the only things that have an issue with the heat. Based on what I've been able to find ; which I'll admit is not much so it is an educated guess, is that 180F is the material test rating. 170 is close, but not over what the material should be capable of handling. HDPE (the plastics) are dishwasher safe, meaning they'll withstand the over 200F of a dishwasher drying cycle. And stone...well, stone shouldnt have the issue.

Testing with a surface IR thermometer, the stone never reaches that temp in the time I have it in the oven. It just happens to be the lowest my oven will go.  After 2 hours, the stones read 150F/65C. And yes, I'm cautious as I'm aware of the potential issues there. The epoxy doesnt loosen or budge. It's just as hard and rigid after heating as it is when it's room temp. So I dont fear that to be an issue.

 Well I'm out of ideas, if the bushings are fine and secure.   Anyone else solve this mechanical mystery?

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/12/16 05:14:54PM
30 posts

Premier Wonder Grinder Help


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


timwilde: To reiterate: when I got the machines in October. I unpackaged them, ran them under hot water and mild soap and used a scrubbing brush. That was to get rid of any plastics and oils prior to first run.   The first run; again as a cleaning procedure; was to pour hot water and mild degreasing soap into the maching and let it run.  The axles were covered during this time. After running through like that, I took the assembly apart, scrubbed the wheels the best I could, wiped down the axles as best I could and used forced spray of water to clean out the inside of the wheels.  

This area here is too small for any brush I have (bottle brush will not fit).  I have since used my dip tube brush from my keg gear.  It's a tiny brush that requires some force to push through the wheel, bristles are bigger than the hole, so they are indeed scrubbing.

I was able to run a batch of 2 ingredient chocolate through at 72% dark. For prep for this I heat my oven to the lowest setting which is 170F/76.6C and set the assembly and drum separately on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. The assembly sits in the oven for about 1-2 hours, then gets placed on the base. I pour the liquid ingredients in first; i.e. cocoa butter if I'm adding any. If no cb, I begin by adding freshly roasted/winnowed nibs about a handful at a time (maybe .5oz) and let it get somewhat liquid first before moving forward.   It takes about 2 hours to add all nibs in. At that point I let it refine for a minimum of 12 hours before adding any other ingredients (milk, sugar, vanilla, etc). There was no visible or noticable issue with that batch. Other than the premier refined a lot faster than I'm used to (ready in 36 hours).

To clean after a batch of chocolate has been run through, I pull out the degreaser and hot water to remove any chocolate that I couldnt scrape out. I let this soak for a few minutes prior to attacking it with a scrubbing brush. I then use the spray hose to rinse out the bowl and remove any visible chocolate on the wheel assembly. I then take wheels off, and scrub the inside of the wheels and wipe down the axles.  I then wait for it to be mostly dry, then I set the disassembled wheel assembly onto a parchment lined sheet pan into the oven.  This assists in getting the pieces drying.



If I'm going to run another batch that day, I will leave the pieces in the oven for about 2-3 hours to both dry and warm the pieces.  When I assemble, I make sure to tighten the nuts as tight as they were prior to me disassembling. As of thus far, I've been treating the new premiere grinders the same as I have treated my santha grinder.  The santha grinder is still running, zero issues, and have never had a problem with it. In fact I've just replaced a belt on it, first time in almost 8 years that was done.  So I'm going to assume maintenance, cleaning, sanitation is going to be the same?

Hi Tim,

I don't understand why you are having problems, you do pretty much what we do with our Wonder grinders in terms of use and cleaning.  I've also found as you mention that the Premier grinders reduce the particle size faster than other brands too.

I guess I should have written 'test tube' brush not bottle brush....  they are quite a bit smaller.  We use an item with about 1" diameter soft bristles but do have to snip the end to get it to go through the bore hole of the wheels.   Again, do you wheels have 'end float' or side to side movement on the shaft with the nuts tightened? Assume the wheels spin freely when clean?


updated by @Powell and Jones: 02/12/16 05:15:58PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/12/16 12:53:07PM
30 posts

Premier Wonder Grinder Help


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

[quote="Tony.n"] I've seen this issue before, is definetly a cleaning issue, Do you spin the granite stone rollers while rinsing with hot water?

Can you describe how do you clean your melangeur? 

Tim,

As Tony writes cleaning is key,  for both cleaning and sanitation it's actually a good idea to remove the wheels from the shafts (just need a M10 wrench or spanner).    Clean the bore of the stones with a small 'bottle brush', (Erin could sell them? but easy to find on eBay etc.)   After cleaning we place the stones and drum in a low convection oven set to 100C,  if you are lucky enough to have an oven that can be set this low it's a good way to drive off water and pre-heat before chocolate making.

Hope you have better luck with your next batches

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/10/16 07:25:33PM
30 posts

Premier Wonder Grinder Help


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

timwilde: Ok, because of the 2am cleanup finishing around 3am, a little slow at getting the pics up.  However, the lube appears to be cb with granite dust. In one of my last batches of 2-ingredient dark chocolate I found a big glob of it with the last 8-10oz of chocolate. I've poured that in a container un-tempered to solidify before throwing out. Looking at it now, it's cb. It has the same temper/texture/solidity that the cb immediately around it has, only it's pitch black with some sort of metalic sparkle to it (hence when seeing it in liquid form looked like a separate lube).



I've done the dry sugar thing on my Santha, but that was several years ago. I was told in some posting or another in the years since that it's not a suggested practice since it's a wet grinder and can damage the machine by running dry foods through it.  I take it that's gone back to standard practice again?

What I have done to clean, other than running 4 batches of chocolate through one machine and 2 batches through the other, is I've poured hot water and a degreasing soap into the machine and let it run for a few minutes. Took it apart and washed/scrubbed thoroughly as a first cleaning procedure. 

As a secondary suggested procedure to knock and collect dust, I did run an oil/sugar mix through the machines for about 2 hours. It discolored the oil but I've since cleaned that out. 

I'm thinking at the moment, the biggest worry is the seizing wheels. I'm not sure what could be causing that, and I'll have to take the wheels out into daylight to see if there's scratching or marring on the white bushings that I cant see in the indoor lighting for some reason. It's worrisome because it's happening on 2 assemblies, not just one machine. 

Since I have one machine open with a newly cleaned and dried wheel assembly, I've run the dry sugar through for about 45 minutes. That did not discolor the sugar, and I'm in process of cleaning that out and getting it dried again. The other machine I'll have pics posted of the chocolate free siezed wheels and they're disassembly up as soon as is possible.

Hi Tim,

Do check the 'end float' on the stone wheels, ideally with the washer and M6 nut snugged up the wheels should spin freely but the wheels shouldn't be able to move up and down the shaft much at at all.  These things are a very cheap device,  unfortunately the manufacturing tolerances seem to be a bit hit and miss.   The HDPE bushings are a two piece effort with a piece inserted and glued from each side, there shouldn't be a big gap between the two parts of the bushing inside the stone? 

I've also noticed that on some stones on the ones we have that the bushing is quite a loose fit on the shaft, if there is a bit more end float 'stuff' including dust can get in between the bushing and shaft.  I haven't had the issue you seem to have (yet),  if I needed to correct the end-float I'd probably try re-cutting the thread on the shaft with a M6 die so I could tighten more, I imagine using a thicker washer could also work?   Alternatively, replacing the center assembly might help.  Hopefully, there's not stone /grit worked into the revolving stones bushings, if present it will grind on the shaft as shown by 'witness marks; on the stainless shaft.    Again, these grinders aren't build for HD chocolate making, you can get away with using them, but there apparently are one or two design weakness.

Mark

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/10/16 02:54:45PM
30 posts

Premier Wonder Grinder Help


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


timwilde: This past season I chose to expand the new small business production and got 2 premier wonder grinders. And I'm having problems with both.

When I went to make some white chocolate, it came out a very sickly grey. No off flavors, but just sickly grey. After the first batch like that, I pulled the hub assembly out and saw there is a lot of black lube in the wheel; more specifically it seemed to have hidden/stored in the gap between the two-piece axle shaft assmbly that is epoxied to the wheels.

After trying to clean that out the best I could, I got a less grey, but still sickly looking white chocolate. After cleaning hard again - difficult because of the small opening I had to work with. and yet again another batch (third one) that is unusable because of it's sickly color.

Thus far, it looks and tastes like it's a food-grade lubricant of some sort, which I dont mind, just want it gone so it doesnt discolor my chocolate. I eventually went through both with a dip tube brush from my beer keg cleaning gear, which was the only small scrub brush that I have that would fit in there.

I *think* I've gotten it all out, but now I'm having issues with both assemblies with the wheels seizing.  They "float" across the bottom, but do not spin. When I first saw this, I pulled the assembly and took it apart. There appeared to be plastic or string kinda twined in there. Pulled that out and inspected the wheels but I'm not seeing any damage at all.  I put the other assembly in (2nd machine not in use) to finish the batch, and this one also seized up.

Anyone else having these issues?  I've attatched the grey vs fresh add to the grinder for color comparisons.  This is getting a little frustrating at this point.



I'm currently in the process of emptying the grinder that currently has the siezed wheels. As they get cleaned I'll post pics.  I'm really hoping this isnt due to something stupid on my part. I've been careful to disassemble and reassemble exactly as they were.  Seemed to be working fine with the lube in there other than tainting the chocolate. But now that it's cleaned, not seeming to work right.

I use these for prototype batches, looks like you have stone dust and or food grease with gray metal wear particles dissolved in a sea of CB?

Did you 'run-in' the grinders with a 1lb of sugar before use?  You do need to bed in the stones before making product. A 30 minute run with sugar helps settle the stones against the base stone, then discard and wash up.  That said, before you use the grinder for the first time undo the nuts holding the wheels on and clean and grease the spindles with some FDA legal food grade grease (Lubriplate FGL-2) it will stop the sugar getting into the stone's bushings.  Personally, I've found the stainless steel shafts the wheels revolve on to be a bit soft and the shaft will wear / gall if any grit gets between the bush and shaft.   The stone dust (granite) and even some unrefined sugars are effectively a form of grinding medium.   Once you have bedded the stones, discarded the sugar and wash and dry the set up,  you can wipe off the shafts to remove the food grease, it's a DELRIN (as Erin pointed out) bushing really should be self lubricating.

Also, when making chocolate with a Premier I never add sugar before having nicely liquid cocoa and or cocoa butter circulating to prevent any particles getting into the shafts.   I will also sometimes 'grease' the spindles with CB after I clean my grinders and reassemble for the next batch.   The premier grinders are a great small batch option but the spindles and bushings are the one thing that is less than ideal from a santitation point too.


updated by @Powell and Jones: 02/13/16 10:18:06PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/08/16 01:28:21PM
30 posts

Help needed for a pest issue - 'warehouse moth'


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

James Hull: Sorry i posted that before properly reading Jordans earlier post.

I will contact my main supplier in Nicaragua and see if they can sort out some of these grainpro bags as they sound like a step in the right direction.

Also i will look into getting the one that CO2 can be used with for treating my current stock of cocoa beans and give it a test.

Will report back with my findings.

James,  As your in the UK, I think you will find CO2 in a cylinder easier to find than 'dry ice' (solid CO2 which needs to be stored at -70C) although note you can make slugs of solid CO2 from a cylinder that's fitted with a dip tube using a special draw off device that traps the liquid as it is flowing from the cylinder.... Don't know how expensive these are, it's years since I last used one in the laboratory.

 Suggest you get friendly with a local Pub owner and 'borrow' a cylinder of CO2 and the regulator,  pipe the gas into the bag at say 2 - 3 psi and allow it to 'escape' for a while, once you have flushed the air out of the bag, seal it up and cross fingers it will be good to go.   If you can't get a loaner,  welding supply firms can hook you up with CO2  (your want disteller's grade really - same as used to serve beer, some CO2  is a mix intended for welding only not food)  FYI: Firms like MachineMart sell cheap cylinder regulators and fittings..Again you need to reduce the pressure from the cylinder's  hundreds of pounds per sq inch to a 'gentle purging wiff'....  PLEASE NOTE BELOW

SAFETY:  Be sure to use a stand or chain the cylinder to the wall if it falls it can break off the top and turn into a lethal heavy weapon.   CO2 is an asphyxiant in a closed space and will displace the breathable air, use only in a well ventilated space.    The UK H&S regs may even require a  gas monitor to be installed in a space that contains gassed up bags?     Please use prudence and common sense.

Mark

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/03/16 04:58:48PM
30 posts

Help needed for a pest issue - 'warehouse moth'


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hello Jordan.

I was about to post a question for Sebastain regarding the 'industry view' of optimal moisture content for fermented raw cacao shipments prior to transit, but it looks like you have answered it?  What's high moisture content in this context?    Of course it's easy to check the moisture content of dried beans before they are sealed up, but doesn't the relative humidity (typically hot and steamy in Cacao growing areas...) have a greater contribution to the water vapour within the enclosure?  Surely it's largely this water vapour from the air spaces around the beans which might condense and or allow mold to develop, hence Sebastain's concern?   Is there an extra step to filling and sealing these sacks, i.e. something like doing it in a low relative humidity space?

The zipper bags do sound like a good way for us small craft scale chocolate makers to protect our warehouse stock, particularly in shared space where other clients aren't organic and are exposing their wares to chemical fumigation, other pest control chemicals or storing sacks of onions next to the cacao as you point out.

Mark

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/01/16 11:20:31PM
30 posts

Home Business Questions


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

[quote="annalynn"] Thanks! And, please feel free to keep them coming. I'm learning so much.

Two way street!     How about coming back in a while and sharing what you have learnt?  Or are you really just expecting to get spoon fed? (free consulting)   Think you will find several expert folks here happy to answer some questions, but few are likely willing to dish all their knowledge and secrets gained from training, study and time in the trenches.  

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/01/16 10:40:54PM
30 posts

Home Business Questions


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

California like most States doesn't allow dairy containing foods unless prepared in a commercial facility and refrigerated as needed.  It's technically a slight grey area from a food microbiology position, but nearly all simple dairy + chocolate ganache formulations will have a Water Activity (aW) >0.85 which puts them firmly as 'potentially hazardous foods' (PHF) as described in the Federal and most State food regulations (the later typically adopt the Federal rules as State code) 

We chocolatiers often tweak recipes to reduce aW in an effort increase shelf life without adverse effects on favour/texture.   Chocolate ganache with an aW <0.7 made in sanitary conditions stored at 12C can last at least 8 weeks or longer, as most spoilage organisms and more importantly pathogenic bacteria don't grow under these conditions

However, the food safety regulations only consider that at an aW >0.85 both food spoiling microrganisms and any pathogenic bacteria present can and will grow if the product is held at room temp during it's shelf life, providing a significant risk of food born illness. Dairy including fresh milk, cream even if UHT are regarded as high risk components in filled chocolates, hence not allowed in Cottage / home produced products.

Caramel, toffee, dipped marshmallows, dried fruit, nuts, and fondant will have an aW <0.7 or lower as does a typical chocolate bar.... Thus they  are considered low(er) risk (non-PHF) and often allowed to be made and sold outside of commercially regulated food production facilities i.e.  Cottage / Home producers.

I also note the California home food rule doesn't require liability insurance for producers of 'home foods'.  Risky,  one bad batch of ganache and a food born illness claim could leave you living in a tent as you have to sell your home to cover the legal bill! 

My tips for you:

1. Find a good clean commercial kitchen, you will need a space you can use for production with approved materials, and also store the finished goods there.

2. Get trained / upto speed regarding the food safety aspects and regulation.   Review City, County, State rules and if you do any internet sales also the Federal rules as they will also impact your business.

3. Take out a decent liability insurance policy, which is typically needed in any event if you want to sell at farmer's markets or other public events and totally required if you do 'indirect sales' (no retailer or broker will take your produce without this)

Making the stuff is the relatively easy part, turning the hobby or interest into a legal, safe and viable business takes real effort and expertise.

Good Luck

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
02/01/16 09:26:28PM
30 posts

Help needed for a pest issue - 'warehouse moth'


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hello Jordan,

Thanks for the very useful clarification regarding the use of GrainPro bags to both protect and treat cacao.  I'd planned to use 32 gallon bins for bulk storage, (bug and mouse proof) guess I'll need to contact you to explore using the GrainPro 69KG sacks /cocoon.   

Given the cost of 1/2 MT of single origin cacao it sounds like a very worthwhile investment, organic / fairtrade and then bombed with chemicals doesn't really cut it on the marketing front!

However, as CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas accounting for around 80% of the United States greenhouse emissions don't think I'm going to mention its use either.  Guess I could plant a tree for everytime I gas up a bag to offset?

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
01/21/16 09:04:19PM
30 posts

Help needed for a pest issue - 'warehouse moth'


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Sebastian, You are correct, I'm a poor typist and proof reader Methyl bromide not bromine.  You are however not quite on with phosphene.....

A phosphene is an optical phenomenon in which people think they see light when no light is actually entering the eye.

The fumigant is phosphine according to the FAO manual ( http://www.fao.org/docrep/x5042e/x5042E0a.htm) "Phosphine or hydrogen phosphide (PH3) is a low molecular weight, low boiling point compound that diffuses rapidly and penetrates deeply into materials, such as large bulks of grain or tightly packed materials. The gas is produced from formulations of metallic phosphides (usually aluminium or magnesium phosphide) that contain additional materials for regulating release of the gas." 

According to the cocoa brokers I've spoken with something called ECO2FUME made by Cytec is used at warehouses in the USA, it's 2% Phosphine and 98% Carbon dioxide  http://www.cytec.com/sites/default/files/files/ECO_SPEC_SHEET_2-16-11_FINAL.pdf.   I agree nasty stuff, but rapidly disappears once the tenting is removed.   I share space with a craft distiller on a light industrial park, their 'pest man' would use it if they had problems in their grain store, but you do have to be licenced to buy it and apply it.

The Grainpro bags are as you say just another way to prevent warehouse infestation / and or protect fumigated goods in store or transit.

Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
01/20/16 08:34:27PM
30 posts

Help needed for a pest issue - 'warehouse moth'


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques


Warehouse moth:  CO2 and barrier solutions

Methyl Bromine used to be employed to fumigate commercially traded cocoa imports at export or receiving warehouses.  Banned / withdrawn since 2010 often replaced by phosphine which is highly flammable and rather nasty.  Typically in the warehouse they tent the pallets and gas the bags, interestingly phosphine is available in a form where it is mixed with carbon dioxide.   I imagine this is both to make a readily applied gas mix and of course the CO2 reduces the fire risk! 

Modified atmosphere storage works and certain hot or cold treatments also work. There have even been experiments with microwaving. (perhaps Sebastian can provide industrial insights regarding this?)    A small amount dry ice in a dustbin (UK!) or trashcan (USA) for a 1/2 sack works  well according to John (The Chocolate  Alchemist).  If you're handy and a practical sort, (making craft chocolate this typically is the case)  assembling a flushing system with a cylinder of CO2 from a welding gas supplier or a friendly bar owner could work if you can't readily get solid carbon dioxide (dry ice).    The usual  safety  / hazard notes about enclosed spaces and pressurized containers..(Attempt at you own risk, I'm not recommending you do it.)     Of course also consider, you don't need to pressurize just displace all the 'regular' air and replace and hold with CO2 for a bit, even relatively inactive insect pupae need oxygen to survive.....

 FYI:  Physical barrier solutions
 At the recent FCIA meeting in San Francisco,  in the queue for evening beverages I met a nice chap (Jordan) from a company called GrainPro  (Google it) , they make / sell special barrier solutions for farmers / cacao producers to protect warehouse stock and even individual sacks of cacao or shipping containers loads.   These sorts of protection might be a way to protect your stocks and they appear to have solutions that are highly scalable.


updated by @Powell and Jones: 01/20/16 08:36:00PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
05/21/15 10:29:38PM
30 posts

Real Milk, Milk Chocolate


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I'll 'third' Sebastian's suggestion not to formulate using liquid milk even in 'condensed form'!  As he states there's a high risk of microbial issues.

It's a good way to get folks sick given the near impossible set up for 'in place' sanitation of the equipment you are apparently using.   I hope and assume you're not planning on selling this 'product'?

p.s.  I haven't seen the Glass and a half in every bar of Dairy Milk tag line used for years.... I thought Cadbury's UK had dropped way back it as it isn't technically true....The UK trade descriptions Act require truefully accurate language, they use proprietary Milk solids (Milk crumb) as most of the big boys do.

Please don't take offence, but the old saying " A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" comes to mind here

 

MJ

 


updated by @Powell and Jones: 05/21/15 10:30:25PM
Powell and Jones
@Powell and Jones
05/12/15 08:10:27PM
30 posts

Ingredient expiration


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Must say I was a bit surprised to read this question posted from someone whose company Davis Chocolate is manufacturing products, private labelling, co-packing and I assume selling in interstate commerce? 

You business model puts you firmly in the category of a commercial concern that is required to be registered at FDA as a 'Food facility' and also required to fully observe and understand the CFR (Code of Federal regulations) that apply to chocolate and related food stuffs. 

To answer your question checking the FDA website will help with the questions you posed.  As a starter the following is taken directly from the FDA site and might help?

"With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label. FDA does not require food firms to place "expired by", "use by" or "best before" dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.

"A principle of U.S. food law is that foods in U.S. commerce must be wholesome and fit for consumption. A "best by", "use by" or expiration date does not relieve a firm from this obligation. A product that is dangerous to consumers would be subject to potential action by FDA to remove it from commerce regardless of any date printed on a label."

Some other thoughts....
Using any 'expired' or 'aged out' materials in a manufactured product is very poor manufacturing practice. "Good manufacturing practice" for both an artisan confectioner or a large commercial operation would require a bill of materials with the specifications and traceability / lot number of items like 'dried milk powder' recorded including expiry dating.  That said, in fact dried milk powder (DMP) is actually long lasting if stored dry and dark, it has been stored for years as a food for emergency relief use, or as part of the European commodity price protection program.  In the 1980's the  European intervention stores (huge warehouses) were full of sacks of DMP.  Personally, I'd use dried milk or milk crumb well in date for making milk chocolate.  Once all incorporated as final compound the combination of DMP, sugar and chocolate liquor yields a aW (water activity) usually well below 0.65 and milk chocolate is a shelf stable food from a microbiological standpoint,  that's without considering the changes in temper / sensory qualities that with occur during storage. 

By convention a product's 'shelf life' starts the day it completes manufacturing and is 'product released' from the production area / factory.    Your formulated product.... Milk chocolate I'm assuming in your case? should have a shelf life assigned from your experience of prior batches held and examined for quality after X months (bloom / temper other issues?)  Alternatively, a conservative short dated 'Use by" set and perhaps updated using results of a 'real time' stability study of a sample of your current production (hold back sample) could be used. (Personally I'd not be a fan of this approach.)      

Typically well made quality milk chocolate has a shelf life assigned by an experienced manufacturer of around 18 - 24 months from date of manufacture when stored at 68F in impermeable packaging protected from light.  Shelf life is an issue for bulk purchasing for small companies,  if I buy in bulk to get decent prices and then hold in stock, I'd typically ask for the product production dating when ordering 500lb lots and would reject short dated goods.  
    



MJ