just thought I would share a recent idea I had for conching in my wet grinder. Conching is often done at temperatures higher than that reached by a wet grinder. So I borrowed my father-in-law's sous vide temperature control unit and came up with the setup in this video (I'm sure it could be setup neater, but this was just to see if it worked).
Basically the sous vide machine measures the chocolate temperature. I enter the temperature I want the chocolate to be at and the machine switches a heat gun (pointed into the grinder bowl) on and off to achieve that temperature.
I refined the nibs for 6 hours, added the sugar and refined for another 9 hours. I then switched on the temperature control unit and "conched" for 15 hours at 60.5C. I added the additional cocoa butter 8 hours into that conching period.
The machine I used was a Sous Vide Magic, but there may be others that do something similar.
The final chocolate seemed to have a better mouthfeel and flavour, so I think it worked as a conch. The next step is to try a longer conching period and maybe increase the temperature (especially for milk chocolate). The only thing I am weary of is I don't know the maximum temperature the expoxies/glues used in the wet grinder can withstand.
Anyway, I've only tried this once for now. Let me know if you have any questions about my setup or any improvements/alternatives I could try.
I bought a small Johnson Controls temperature control unit (A419) from a home brewing supplier through Amazon. The unit needed to be switched from "switch off when too cold/on when too warm" to the opposite ("off when too hot, on when too cool"). It was an easy switch to make that the unit's manual described well, although I did need to remove the front cover. Easy enough for anyone who can change a light bulb. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00368D6JA/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_...)
The heat gun I used is a HomeRight C800781 Heat Pro Deluxe II that has some temperature and speed control. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003IHVANI/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_...).
I attached the heat gun to an artist's easel, as it made positional adjustments very easy.
I hope that helps,
greatness! and super thanks