I am trying to pinpoint my recent tempering difficulties in my store's kitchen. I've ruled out machine malfunction and the chocolate itself, since the same poor temper is happening with both machines and different % and brands of chocolate. (Plus, I have also gotten beautiful tempers from these machines and chocolate brands.) The only other variable is the atmosphere of the kitchen.
My kitchen is currently at 66 degrees Fahrenheit and 31% humidity. I know the ideal atmosphere is 68 degrees Fahrenheit and below 50% humidity.
My question is: is 31% humidity too dry to get an excellent temper?
Looking forward to hearing from everyone, as I am stumped about this problem.
Humidity shouldn't really affect your tempering process. I work at 10,000 feet here in Quito with probably 40% or lower humidity much of the time and never had an issue.
Not sure if you mentioned this before, but what kinds of machines are you using for tempering and what exactly are the symptoms (visual and otherwise) of the temper being off.
I have to agree with Jeff about low humidity, as chocolate is not supposed to have any water in it anyway. The only issues I have ever seen with humidity is when it's too high, and the chocolate, being hygroscopic, absorbs moisture and thickens making it difficult to work with.
Another issue - I suppose theoretically - is that you're not melting out all the crystals before starting to cool the chocolate down. This would result in "bad" (unwanted) crystals still being in the chocolate, forcing improper crystal structure. When you warm the chocolate up, to what temperature and how long do you keep it there before starting to cool it down?
Oops, sorry about that.
I'm using ChocoVision Revolation X3210, and Noel and Callebaut chocolates. After going though the tempering process, the chocolate has shiny streaks as well as whiteish streaks and spots.
A couple of things suggest themselves as this sounds like it might be inconsistent distribution of crystals in the chocolate.
1) Keep the chocolate at the melted point for a while longer, 10 minutes? before starting the cool-down part of the cycle (when you add the seed chocolate). This will help to ensure that the chocolate is completely melted. Remember, the temperature is only being measure where the little sensor probe is located. Waiting a while will make sure that the chocolate is a more even temperature and that the crystals are all melted out.
2) When the temper cycle is over, do two things: a) stir the chocolate a bit to mix it, evening out the temperature and spreading the crystals around; and then b) wait a while before starting to use the chocolate - remember, the temperature sensor measures the temperature in only one place.