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I currently have two table top temperers, which are plenty for my production from home. I am considering setting up a commercial space in which to manufacture in order to meet health standards for re-sale.

Can anyone provide me with what types of machines they have used for start-up? I was looking at Hilliards but read one comment that said their 'Hand Coater' might be overkill for shell moulded chocolates, which is what I do most. I want to get into bars as well, and so it would seem a machine built for mould filling would be best. Is a large 'tempering/holding tank' and vibrating table the way to go? I could really use some help here. Much appreciated...

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Hi Clay,
Im interested in what you had to say about chilling cabinets. What kind of size are they? Do you know of a Canadian distributor... I haven't looked into it yet.

Thanks!
Amber
Amber:

The chocolate holding cabinets I referred to are from a company called Irinox. They are not cheap, but the are very effective. A model that holds 20 half-size sheet trays lists for US$11,700. Not sure if there is a Canadian importer - Canada may be handled out of the US. If you have the budget let me know and I can help you out.

I am working on less expensive alternatives but it may be months before they are tested and working.

:: Clay
Amber, if you are the least bit handy, a simple and effective cold room can be made. As I mentioned earlier, we built a fairly professional looking room out of aluminum 80/20 extrusions and a freestanding AC unit. You cant have multiple zones, but I have low humidity, 59-60 degrees and have not had any troubles. My unit holds 3 4' long metro shelves on castors. At 13 shelves per unit and 8 molds per shelf, I can 312 molds in the cabinet at a time. Total cost would probably be around $1500 depending on what kind of deals you get. Of course you can go much smaller if you want to.

As an added bonus, you always have positive pressure inside the cabinet. As long as you filter the air coming in, nothing can float in and settle on your chocolates.

Send me an email if you would like more details.
Good Luck
Hallot
Hallot, (when you find the time) would you mind posting a picture or two of your cold room?

Hallot,

Are you still chocolating?  Id love to get some more info on your cold room, as I have suddenly encountered problems with  bloom on my bars.  The bars are pretty thick (3" x 3" and 80 g), so I'm assuming heat is getting trapped in the centre.

This has begun after taking on the Selmi One, which kicks off way too much heat for my a/c unit to battle.

I don't know if my problem is ambient temp, mold temp, or too slow/ too quick cooling of  the products, as I currently place them on a rack in front of the forced cooled air.  Im running some test batches today, but figure Im going to need a better cooling system asap.

Any thoughts on this?

Amber

Hi Hallot,

I'm from Brazil, with median temperatures almost reaching 40ºC (104ºF) and high humidity tax, almost 80%, by the year. I'm looking for a small refrigerated cabinet to keep chocolate and confections fresh overnight or more, free of ice and excessive humidity. I've tryed a small wine adega from Electrolux, with compressor and adjustable temperature control between 12º/18ºC (53º/64ºF), without control humidity, but it wasn't a good solution because it generates ice on inner top of cabinet and humidity without control. I'm thinking making my own small cold room/cabinet and your design sounds good and may fix this issues… Could you help me? sorry my English... : ]

Aloha, I have a walk in that is 16' by 8'. I intend to keep it at 60 degrees F. What kind of cooling tunnel do you recommend to put in the walk in? We are making 2 oz bars. Or would you go with a cooling cabinet? I looked at the Irinox web site, very fancy, but did not find any cooling cabinets. I image the cooling tunnel would be on the small end. I plan to place a Selmi temperer in the walk in.
Thanks.

Koa
Hi Clay,

I found your advice very helpful. I'm new to the artisan chocolate world. I want to open an artisan chocolate shop in the city of Oxford , UK where there has a population of 150,000 and 9 millions visitors each year. Because I'm a total new starter I even don't know what machines I need to meet the demand of the shop. Where shall I start from zero? I'll make chocolates all by myself.

From reading you and other starter's conribution here I somehow learnt I need 3 tempering machines. I think I might need an enrober as well. How about the machines to make truffles? I meant do I need a depositor and do I need vabriting machine? How many people I need to get the operation going?

You see I'm comletely no clue about anything. Please help.
I have a Hilliard kettle temperer and also a Hilliard enrobing line which has the same type of kettle for melting.
It all depends on what kind of volume you do. If you mostly do shell molding I think a Hilliard kettle is a good idea. They are workhorses and almost never break. You wind up with about 20 Lbs of tempered chocolate all the time which you can continually dip into as long as you don't mind dipping and pouring it's probably the most economical way to go in my opinion. I had a couple of small vibrators (from Chef Rubber) and find that tapping the molds on the counter works better and is easier since the molds kind of vibrate right off the vibrator unless you hold them. Maybe a big vibrating table would work better- I never used one.
Are your table top temperers Chocovision? Because I have heard they are working on a larger volume temperer too. I have 2 of them but the baffle breaks a lot.
Hope this helps...
I initially started out with a Mol d'Art 5 kg. melter, just to make truffles and pieces for holidays, gifts and other occasions. I eventually got a Hilliard's Little Dipper, which is really a tank of a machine, very reliable, and I use regularly. From there I moved up to another Mol d'Art 10 kg, melter-the bigger tray allowed me to start doing molds and have a lot more chocolate on hand to work with all day. This was plenty of equipment for small scale production and met my needs for over a year.

I eventually settled, after much research and talking to several chocolate makers, on a Prefamac 30kg tank with vibrating table, and also purchased the enrobing attachment. I wanted both the ability to do molded pieces and to enrobe pieces cut from slabs. 30 kgs. is enough to work with when enrobing all day, but now that I have moved in to doing bars as well, we can go through 30 kgs in less than a day easily. The vibrating table is really a godsend and does a much better job, IMHO, than the small lab tables (which I also own purchased from Chef Rubber for about $130). The whole setup was just under $20k, not including shipping and duties into Ecuador, where we are located. I found, for the value, this machine was one of the best deals around. It may not have all the bells and whistles of some more expensive machines, but I kind of think making chocolate is like taking pictures; you can shoot good pictures with almost any camera, as long as you know what you're doing. To read more about my experience with the machine, you can check out my posting on egullet at http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=99856&hl=prefamac....

The Prefamac is also built like a tank and while I've had some minor troubleshooting issues, it's pretty much a trouble-free machine thus far. I bought it from the US through Bakon USA; I can only say great things about customer service from Luc Imbrechts, the owner. The cost was cheaper than buying it direct from Europe, as the dollar exchange rate was very high when I purchased it while the US prices was locked in and lower than it would have been straight from Belgium. Luc has helped me troubleshoot minor issues via email and using digital photos, and has always supplied me with parts when needed via Fedex, no problem at all. I find the thermostat to be highly accurate and the chocolate stays in perfect temper when managed.

While the chocolate does thicken as the day goes by, it's fairly easy to adjust by kicking up the thermostat in 0.5C increments or hitting it with a heat gun for a minute or two to break crystal.
Just came upon another great idea for a warming cabinet. I liked Clay's idea of a bread proofing box, but I have another option that's even more low-budget and equally effective.

Go out and buy the largest styrofoam cooler you can afford-be it the cheapie type of one of the better ones that is reenforced for long life. Head to your local hardware store and get a socket and bulb set, better yet, get one with a dimmer for more precise temperature control. Turn your cooler over, cut a hole just big enough to stick in the socket and bulb-use at least a 100w bulb, you're trying to generate heat here. Turn cooler right-side up. Put your food-safe container filled with chocolate in the cooler, close the lid and turn your light on. The heat from the lamp should produce a temperature around 85 to 95 F, just right for melting chocolate overnight.
Hello,
I started about 11 years ago, with just a Chocovision Machine. While it only holds 10 pounds of chocolate, with an additional melter you can use a technique called "drip-feeding" to increase your volumes.

Currently I am working with 250 pounds of chocolate on a daily basis.

I also came across a Company called Hake Plastic Molds that sells Professional Grade heavy weight Plastic Molds, Vibrating tables, and a Metered Depositing pump, which will allow you to set a range between 0.25 ounce to 6 ounces.
I liked the Company so much, I became part-owner of Hake Plastic Molds.

The current cost of the Pump as of June 2009 is US$2300.oo

While ladeling chocolate by hand may seen easy; after doing it year after year puts continous stress on your hands and wrists which over time can create serious fatique, let alone other problems.

By using more automated equipment, this will allow you to become bigger, with not a lot of expense, and still feel good after a days work is done.

Hope this helps,
Shawn Alter - Chocolatier
The Chocolate Butterfly
Part-Owner Hake Plastic Molds
http://www.hakeplasticmolds.net

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