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I am evaluating the Chocovision X3210 and Delta. It is attractive that the addition of the holey baffle can temper 6-8kg of chocolate made from the bean. Yet, from what I read it seems that the Chocovision X3210 and Delta are primarily designed for tempering using the seed method using blocks of chocolate which are later taken out. 

Can the Chocovision machines temper without seed chocolate? Does it add significant time in waiting for the chocolate to cool down? I know I could extract some chocolate and cool it in the countertop while stirring to seed but this means it wouldn't be possible to extract it at the right time. 

I've read glowing reviews of the Savage Bros 50lb countertop temperers as well as good comments on the smaller Pavoni Mini-Temper which holds only 3kg. Any other options I should consider for primarily bar moulding applications on a small scale?

Felipe

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Hi  Felipe

I am looking at the chocovision machines you were looking at. I like you do not have any seed due to carrying out the whole bean to bar process. Did you come to any conclusions about which is the better machine at this level.

Rob

Hi Robert, 

I ended up buying a 6kg Mol d'Art chocolate melter with a spare bowl. I've been happy with the machine but sometimes wish I'd bought the larger 12kg one. 

The Mol d'Art's are good for bean to bar because they are very affordable, easy to operate and allow you to learn different tempering techniques. The down side is they are slow to melt so I normally leave them with a block overnight or go straight from the bowl. A large microwave will be a good companion if you go this route. Just make sure not to burn the chocolate on the microwave as it does tend to happen ;)

For bean to bar you have to face two scenarios: flexibility when tempering new origins/formulations without seed, but  also speed to temper your regular batches. If you run 2 or 3 4kg Ultra/Santha machines, you'll soon see tempering as a bottleneck in production.  The absence of seed is only a problem on your first batch for a particular formulation. 

If you are making bars as opposed to dipping, my guess is to go with the larger Mold D'art first and, if production increases go for a small melter from Savage Bros which have consistently good reviews. 

Hope it helps. 

Felipe

Hi Felipe

Thanks for your input!

I am also looking at a melter now, an 8kg Keychoc machine which I have seen used before. I was also looking at using the technique that Brad Churchill uses which does not require the need for seed: http://www.thechocolatelife.com/forum/topics/tempering-untempered-c...

 

I have currently been tempering either on a marble slab or separating the melted chocolate, with the one bowl going into the freezer to bring it down to the required temperature and re-introducing it back.

 

Can I ask, how does the larger Selmi Tempering machines work on the principle of not having seed to use. That's some way off but I would like to know at some point there is a machine that does it for you.

 

Regards

Rob  

Rob:

Continuous tempering machines (like the ones from FBM, Selmi, and others) do not require the use of seed chocolate, as is required in batch tempering machines. You do not need to purchase a large capacity machine to get the advantages of continuous tempering technology, you can get machines with bowl capacities of 4-12 kg, which can translate to 10-35kg of tempered chocolate per hour.

Continuous tempering machines work by keeping the chocolate melted in a working bowl. The chocolate is pumped through a cooling pipe and subject to shear force to start the formation of the proper crystal structure and then spread the crystals through the chocolate. When the chocolate leaves the cooling pipe and exits the spout it is in temper. Unused chocolate is returned to the working bowl where the crystals are melted out before the chocolate is pumped through the cooling pipe again.

Without going into too much detail (which would fill a book - which I am in the process of writing), there is a balance that needs to be maintained between the temperature of the melted chocolate in the bowl and the temperature of the cooling pipe. The temperature of the cooling pipe is lower than the temper point - what is important is that the temperature of the chocolate as it leaves the cooling pipe is correct. Often (usually), the melting point and the temper point are different in a continuous tempering machine than they are when hand or batch tempering.

The advantages of continuous over batch tempering (in addition to not requiring seed) are:

From a cold start, you can start work in 20-30 minutes or less in a continuous temperer. From a warm start (melted chocolate in the bowl) it can be less than 10. In even a small batch temperer you can be talking 30 minutes to an hour or more.

No long waits between batches. In a batch temperer, when you finish a bowl of chocolate you have to wait for a new batch to temper - which may or may not involve manual intervention. That might take an hour or more to get ready - a long break in the middle of a busy production schedule. With a continuous tempering machine the warm restart (add melted chocolate when the bowl is down by 25-33%) is extremely fast. This is why you can get 2.5 to 3.5x the bowl capacity in hourly throughput. 

More consistent crystallization. Because of the nature of the system, most continuous tempering machines are better at holding a chocolate in temper throughout a long working day and can tolerate changes in the ambient environment automatically. Especially, the chocolate has a tendency not to thicken up over the course of a long shift. This is because the crystals are constantly being melted out and the chocolate is being re-tempered. All modern continuous tempering machines have computers on them to regulate the tempering process. With a batch or in hand-tempering, the operator has to have the experience to know what to do when the chocolate goes out of temper.

Please note that a continuous tempering machine (or any tempering machine, actually) is not a substitute for knowing how to hand-temper chocolate. Anyone who is experienced at hand-tempering chocolate will be able to get the best out of any tempering machine, irrespective of the technique employed.

Hi Clay

Thank you for going into such detail, very interesting and broadens my knowledge, will probably have to read it a few times to get it to sink in! ;)

Can I ask about the Chocovision X3210 and Delta machines. I asked Duffy (UK) concerning tempering in his early days before he got his Selmi machine and he said that due to the fans on the machine not being effective enough he would take a ladle out and cool on a marble slab and then re-introduce it back into the batch. I'm not sure which machine he was using but think it may have be an earlier Chocovision.

How do the X3210 and Delta compare now and can you or someone clarify how these machines are best used around chocolate that has never been tempered before. Maybe I just haven't got my head around it yet but watching the videos on these machines and seeing all examples using seed behind the baffle leave me a little confused. Are you able to add the chocolate, maybe even pre melted and then take the machine through a program that brings the chocolate down to 26c and then back up to 32c?

The continuous temper feature of these machines is clearly the big selling point and one I think I really need, just want to understand the physical process before getting one.

Thanks Rob

Hello,

I use a Chocovision X3210 (purchased through TCL). I temper small test batches without seed by selecting tempering mode 2 and then just waiting a little while. It works pretty well. The problems I've had are mostly because I jumped the gun on molding.

For normal production, I use seed chocolate as it's much quicker and more consistent.

I'm not sure if your last comment is calling the Chocovisions continous tempering machines or not. They're batch tempering machines, not continuous. The continuous ones, as Clay describes, continuously cycle the chocolate through the tempering process and then back into a melting tank.

I like my X3210 just fine, but I really want to get a continuous temperer for the time savings that Clay mentions.

Ben

Rob:

Ben is right in pointing out that the Chocovisions are not continuous tempering machines - they are batch tempering machines.

Okay - tempering basics. First. Tempering is the chocolate equivalent of annealing in metallurgy.

There are six different crystal structures that cocoa butter can assemble into when it cools down. Forms I-IV (one through four) result in a substance that melts very easy and is soft, even when at the correct temperature. Form VI (six) crystals don't melt easily and are what give chocolate a hard brittle crunch texture and sandy/pebbly texture in the mouth when melting (not very well as the melt point is at or just above body temperature). What we want is for Form V (Form Five) crystal to predominate in the mix. (Technically, there are usually always some lower form crystals floating around and like entropy, everything tends towards Form VI in the long run.)

The tempering process is all about forcing the majority of crystals that form to be Form V crystals. This is done by raising the temperature of the chocolate to melt out all the crystals (usually to about 115F), then cooling the chocolate down under controlled conditions, then warming it back up slightly to a working temperature all the while agitating (mixing) the chocolate in a controlled fashion.

This can be done entirely by hand on a marble slab. Warm chocolate is spread out on a cool surface and as it cools down it is moved around by hand. It is the agitation of the chocolate that is part of the key to proper crystal structure. Because the relationship between the temperature of chocolate, the temperature of the slab, and the speed at which heat is transferred from the chocolate into the slab, the hand-tempering process is one that requires a high degree of skill. When the chocolate is tempered it is usually added into a bowl of melted chocolate. The tempered chocolate acts as seed - coercing the crystals in the mass of melted chocolate to form preferentially into the desired form - Form V.

Batch tempering machines take the hand work out of the process. It IS possible to temper the chocolate through agitation and precise control over the temperature during melting/cooling/warming, but it's much easier (and more consistent as Ben points out) to use seed chocolate during the cooling phase. The Form V crystals in the seed chocolate "nudge" the crystals being formed in the cooling chocolate to preferentially form in Form V. The basic concept of batch tempering is that you have a fixed amount of chocolate (a batch). You temper that and use it, and when it's gone, you temper another batch.

In a continuous tempering machine, the physics is pretty much the same. You melt the crystals out, then cool the chocolate down in a controlled fashion while agitating/mixing it. What is happening in the cooling pipe of the continuous tempering machine is that the chocolate is being pumped through using an auger. The chocolate in contact with the inner surface of the pipe is subjected to a temperature below the temper point and is subject to shear and mixing as it is transported through the pipe. The combination of temperature and shear/mixing causes (when the geometry and speed of the auger/pipe and the physics of the cooling system are correct) Form V crystals to predominate as the chocolate cools down completely.

When the chocolate comes out of the spout - when the tempering cycle is in its active phase - it is tempered. Any unused chocolate is returned to the bowl where the crystals are melted out. 

At this point it's helpful to realize that not all of the crystals in the chocolate are of the desired form, even though the chocolate is "in temper." What happens is that the dominant tendency for Form V crystals in the melted chocolate coerces the preferential formation of Form V crystals over other forms in the chocolate as it cools down. 

Chocolate really never stops crystallizing, even when it's solid. In a batch tempering machine crystals will continue to form, even when the temperature is not allowed to cool. This results in the chocolate thickening and becoming more difficult to use over the course of a shift. Therefore, it's necessary, in most batch tempering setups, to be aware of the thickening process and to play with the temperature in the working bowl to melt out crystals as the chocolate thickens.

This is not an issue for most continuous tempering machines because the crystals are continuously being melted out in the working bowl. If you have a continuous temperer and the chocolate starts to thicken up (over-crystallize) during a shift, there is something wrong with the tempering machine (either it is poorly designed and so it's not capable of keeping the tempering cycle in balance or it needs repairing).

Clay,

Thanks for sharing. Is the Savage Brothers 20 kg table top tempering machine considered continuous tempering? It does require running water input to speed up cooling.

See: http://www.savagebros.com/p.26/50-lb-20-kg-table-top-chocolate-melt...

I'm pretty sure it's a batch tempering machine.

Felipe/Ben:

Ben - you are right, this is not a continuous tempering machine, it is actually a melter and instead of a wheel to move the chocolate around there is a stirrer.

In a wheel machine, the wheel serves two functions

1) mixing the chocolate
2) transporting the chocolate to a spout for dispensing

In the case of this Savage, there is a take-off valve at the bottom where you drain tempered chocolate out of the bottom of the bowl. (You can add a pump and/or a depositor.) But tempering requires adding seed and/or controlling the temperature via the water jacket. There is a version of this machine with a PLC control panel which makes it into a semi-automatic batch tempering machine.

One of the clues that you have a continuous tempering machine is the visible presence of a dispensing spout over the working bowl. The continuous tempering process (in these machines) relies on pumping the chocolate from the working bowl through a cooling pipe and then back into the working bowl. If you don't see the machine operating that way, it's not a continuous tempering machine

Does anyone know the price of this melter with the PLC controls?

The above melter is $5,400
With pump and depositor it's 8,400.
Quote as of this month.
They say they need 1-8weeks depending on inventory.
I dont work for them or anything just Hoping to have one within the year.

Joseph: The $5400 is for the PLC model?

For comparison.

An FBM Prima continuous tempering machine with a ~15lb capacity working bowl (~50lb/hr throughput) costs about US$8000 (before shipping and with ChocolateLife member discount). Delivery time is 60 days from order. 

Two advantages of the Prima:

1) you can easily attach an enrobing belt after the fact and
2) the vibrating table is built in

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