Thursday September 22, 2005

By way of a customer's comment (thank you John H.) I tried cracking some cocoa beans with my Champion Juicer. I had thought of this some time ago, but never pursued it because the Crankandstein Cocoa mill works so well. I just ran the whole cocoa beans through the juicer without the lower plate on. It cracks them with a single pass and shoots them out the bottom. It works with both raw and roasted beans.

When I first tried this, I was a little worried about how well it works and whether I had just made the Crankandstein obsolete. Well, after a number of pounds of beans, both raw and roasted, I have the following observations:


  • The Champion cracks the beans into smaller pieces than the Cocoa Mill
  • There is more dust, and thus more waste with the Champion
  • The Champion makes a larger mess while cracking (nibs fly everywhere)
  • It takes longer to crack the beans with the Champion (about 1lb/90 sec vs 4-6lb/min)
  • The Champion does a better job at separating the husk from the nib in raw unroasted cocoa bean.


And likewise, this leads me to a couple of conclusion.


  • The Crankandstein is not obsolete as it is quicker and creates less mess and waste
  • If you are only doing a couple of pounds, the Champion may work fine for you.
  • If you want to make you own raw nibs (for eating or post roasting), the Champion does a great job


Basically, it is up to you and what your needs are. I found the husk pieces were smaller with the Champion and so winnowing was a little easier, but as I said, there was more dust (husk and nib) that needs to be removed (I shook my nibs in a fine mesh colander for this test) so that takes a little more time. Either way, we have a new tool in out Alchemy arsenal, or more like, a new use for an existing tool.

Please try it out and report back. I am especially interested in those of you who have both a Champion and Crankandstein Cocoa mill.

12:18 pm : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (0)




Tuesday September 13, 2005

The good news is that the new crop of Ocumare Criollo from Venezuela will be in around the end of the week, and I have begun accepting orders. The bad news is that it has lost its certified organic certificate. Now, that is not as bad as it sounds. They did not lose it per se, as much as they decided not to obtain it for financial reasons. In order to be certified organic, the farmers have to be inspected and certified in addition to the co-op needs to be certified. For financial reasons the co-op decided to forego inspection until the next go around at the end of the year. So, it is like this. This crop of Ocumare is from farmers who were certified organic, and plan to be certified organic again, meaning they can't be doing anything right now that is not organic. Likewise, this shipment is coming direct from Venezuela and so will avoid the port fumigation. So I leave it to you to judge how "organic" these cacao beans are. They do not have their certification, paper trail, etc and that is important. But they are the same beans, grown by the same people using the same techniques as they did before. And that is important too.

So, if you want so, go ahead and order and I will ship out your order as soon as they arrive. Aside from that, a new crop of Ghana has arrived and I like it a little better than the previous crop. A little more complexity of flavor. Some hints of vanilla and cardamom to compliment that deep chocolate base flavor.

Happy chocolate making everyone.

BTW, Santha update. I will be offering modified motor covers that will allow continuous use of the Santha for refining. Look for those in a week or so. In addition, I have been working with Santha and they have decided to supply me with pre-modified Santhas sometime in November. I will let you know when those become available.

03:12 pm : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (0)





Cocoa Beans
Roasting
Cracking & Winnowing
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