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Hi everyone-

I hope someone can point me in the right direction here.  We have a few opportunities to sell at local Craft markets and fairs.  We need a small table top/display case.  Portable is the key.  120V AC None of the big dealers know what I'm asking for.  I know I have seen them before- does anyone know where we could get something like this?   

Thanks-

Roy

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It's going to be custom, heavy, and expensive.  

We knew a toffee vendor who made his own holding cabinet and would add dry ice to a top compartment and the cool would fall down over his products.  I didn't have the carpentry skills to handle a buildout like that or want the weight to transport to and fro. The best we ever came up with was a wine cooler with glass front.  Even that though if the heat differential was >30' would struggle keeping up and eventually freeze up.  If you find a real solution definitely post it up.  At the end of the day all we ever found that worked wonders was keeping the products in a series of coolers (to prevent humidity from eventually contaminating) and to create some fake products, and some sacrificial products for the display tables.

Oh last thought I had one day was watching a fish monger sell at a market and using a sushi case.  I don't know what temps they are rated at but might be worth looking into.  Low profile and if its made to keep fish cold, I'm sure it can keep chocolate cold. ;)

a sushi case i think is the best option. i was thinking about it when in the beginning there was plans of doing markets.

The temp is probably set-able up to +9C but with a good fridge technician you should be able to re-gas so that +14C are achievable. 

you wont be able to stock a lot in it, so you need to replenish continuously. 

also, you need to keep it away from the sun, as you know the sun light will damage your chocolate anyway..

Still is not cheap but is you do markets every day you could work the expense in short time.

andy - howdy neighbor! this is a timely discussion. i'll be selling at the davidson farmers market starting in april and wondered if you could elaborate on your 'series of coolers' process. i'm debating a portable electric cooler vs. small glass-front wine cooler (humidity being my fear) vs. your process. however, not sure if you are starting at a very cold (electric?) cooler to a gel pack cooler to ambient atmospheric temp? could you explain further? i'd assume you have a step-up process so temp changes occur gradually.

i'd email you directly, but i think everyone on this discussion would benefit from your reply. look forward to your reply. especially since you 'enjoy' the same hot/humid climate conditions as i!

thanks.

Casey! Davidson market, sounds like fun. It's always been way too far for us to travel but it's a nice market!

Again there is no perfect solution. Everything has tolerance and associated costs.

When outdoors you have ambient temps and humidity.
Every time you open a holding container, electric or not, you will lose temperature and introduce humidity.
Being busy will increase this exchange by a magnitude.
No solution will obviate this, and most if not all will only solve the cold rebound. Ie how long it takes to turn to a cold temp.
Another axiom you come across is the faster you get the rebound the more water crystals manifest. At least for those of us in humidity belts. You see you trap the humidity then the cold creates a dew point. You can keep your product cold but then keeping it dry becomes your next hurdle. There is always something.

So.. What we came up with after taking coolers, freezers, and fridges out--you create a series of containers. No high tech thing needed, no dry ice either--humidity is worse than lack of ultimate chill.

Standard freezer packs. Large squares work great. For each cooler pick up 3 or 4.

For us in June, 85-95' heat, 70+% humidity we would take 3 to 4 coolers. The lot of product for the day is organized by splitting the contents among the coolers in somewhat even amounts--this can be also axed by items of popularity. Bag your items in their categories, this is assuming your products are already boxed or packaged too. If you are selling individual chocolates, we stopped this but when we did we handeled it similarly. Large tubs replicated. The main goal of bagging is to keep moisture out by giving everything more time. In this model you may breach the container but if you keep additional humidity from other items you can sustain one cooler longer before needing to transfer.

Ok so you start the morning in one cooler, that's one cooler that has been breached, only one getting contaminated by air and humidity. The day wears on and you migrate remaining products to next cooler, and onwards as sales or slowing of coolering or increased humidity/liquid becomes a nuisance.

Time of year, craziness of weather, all dictate the speed and need to handle things in such an order but you do it a while you find the knack for keeping pristine chocolates and butter ganaches safe all day long.

On the flip side my love of winter has grown. In December I need no ice, and can lay all produce out. Makes me so freakin happy. I abhor a July afternoon at a 5'oclock market. Luckily we don't have to do many of those anymore. ;)

So! No cords, little clean up, and just freeze your packs again--gtg. I've always wanted something slicker but slicker has a huge cost or a huge weight and both always end up breaking or sucking at some time or another. "Keep it simple stupid" really seems to boomerang me on this one.
Oh yea and my knowledge is for those who do not have permanent vending. We've had to vend at day or partial day mainly outdoor with rarely electric. Change the scope to something more friendly and the solutions change.

Thanks Guys-  Yeah I was wondering how I could keep things between 60-70F.  I have noticed some Wine chiller chests have a top setting of 66F.  I was thinking about testing one of those out (for under $200) but thinking humidity might be an issue.  Didn't even think about Sushi Cases though.  :)  I'll keep digging and let ya know.

Hi, Wine cooler has a very "soft" fridge, remember that the higher the outside temp. the stronger your fridge needs to work to keep the product cool.

I have sturggled with the same challenge.  The weather gets warm and I can't do my chocolates at Farmer's Markets and Fairs---I think a table top cigar Humidor would be a good thing.   They are small,  portable,and will control temperature AND humitity.   There are several online--- also the "kits" for doing it your self are cheaper

Andy -

An interesting repurposing of equipment. One of the key points to consider is the cooling capacity, which can be expressed as the maximum difference between ambient temperature and the lowest the fridge can go.

If the temperature outside is 88F can the humidor take it down 20F? Especially when the door is going to keep on being opened and closed.

I think it's a great idea, just a technical parameter to ask about before purchasing.

Hi, as most people here have stated, you will probably not find a commercial product that does what you need.  In my case I've been using, with great success, a thermoelectric cooler to keep my custom-made display case cool.  The beauty of this is it operates on 12 VDC.  I use a power supply to convert from 120VAC.  It easily cools 15 degrees below ambient.  Vinotemp makes the TE units, as well as many other manufacturers.  In my case I used a unit from a Mobicool portable active cooler.  You can see it on the case's left hand side.  Lighting is LED, also powered by the 12V power supply.

Here it is filled with bonbons:

great, how much it cost? where can you buy something like that in EU? i live in South Africa and is gonna be hard to get one!

Antonino -

I think the point is that Cheebs had this built custom. The general approach, which is to use thermolectric coolers, is a very viable approach for adapting something that could be simpler in construction (e.g., does not have a curved glass front).

I think what he did was to buy - and then cannibalize - a unit like this one, taking the cooling elements and electronics and building them into the case. The Mobicool unit linked to specifies cooling to 20 degrees (C!) below ambient on a DC power supply.

There are also companies that just sell the thermoelectric cooler units. One thing about units like these is that they are designed to work with active loads, e.g., machinery that is generating heat. That might make them more suitable for use in places where there is a direct or indirect solar load.

The nice thing about using the TE coolers is that they also dehumidify. 

And, finally, it is left as an exercise for the reader to see how they might be used to create really quite inexpensive cooling tunnels.

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