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Did anyone ever use a ball mill to grind chocolate and has any experience with that?

They seem much cheaper then a roller stone grinder even though they do more of less the same?!?

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Only ball mill I've ever seen for sale is the one by Cacao Cucina, for $25K. That's out of my league. I opted for the $200 wet grinder. I had not looked for other ball mills, but thought about maybe making one at one point, using a heavy duty Hobart mixer and some ball bearings.

I manufacture similar machine it takes 4 hours for 150 kgs if u use icing sugar

Maroun:

Thanks for letting us all know that you sell ball mills. HOWEVER - that was NOT the question Harald was looking for an answer to. Do you have any experience using ball mills, in comparison with other forms of refining, that will help Harald answer his question?

Harald.   a stone grinder will do both grinding and conching simultaneously.  ball mill are meant for  only  grinding.

Hi Harald, I'm relatively new at this, but making some decent chocolate after 18 months of trial and error.

Conching in a wet grinder, does the grinder need to be under a certain depth, so that more air can be churned in? I'm guilty of trying to fill the grinder so that the wheels are covered and I can get more per batch.

Right now I'm trying to overcome a "sour" taste in the dark chocolate we are developing. The sourness disappears as the roast temp increases, but it's replaced by bitterness. I'm wondering if a more effective conch would achieve what I'm after (not sour, not bitter).

Sorry Clay, for straying off topic.

Hey Allan

I managed to conch in a wet grinder, i only had issues when i filled it to much so that one of the wheels stopped rotating, so i guess you are having the same issue.

The criollo beans i use are normally not sour, if they are its do to wrong or to long fermentation.

I think all other beans are alcalised

The beans appear to be properly fermented, and I say that only because I've had under-fermented beans for so long that these are perfect in comparison.

I was thinking that I would probably try some baking soda in the next batch anyway.

The wheels are turning, I was just wondering if it would pull in enough air to conch, if the wheels are submerged.

Baking soda is NOT the way to remove acidity in chocolate. Your chocolate will taste icky. The best way to remove the acidity is to conche it out.

A wet grinder (such as the CocoaTown ECGC65) is not designed to run with the chocolate above the levels of the axles.

There are three main reasons it takes so long to conche in a wet grinder:

1) The temperature is not hot enough. Acetic acid evaporates out when the temperature is above 60-70C and there is still a bit of water in the chocolate. Below these temperatures and when the water has been evaporated out, the removal of the acetic acid slows down considerably. For some reason people have this romantic notion that it's best to run their machines "low and slow" like they were barbecuing. What's a good approach for smoking meat is not the best approach for chocolate.

2) There is not enough air transfer across the surface of the chocolate in the grinder. You need a decent volume of warm air blowing across the surface of the chocolate to remove the volatile aromatic compounds you don't want. There's just not enough air circulation in the wet grinder to remove the volatiles quickly and effectively.

3) The grinding action is good for grinding and refining, not good for conching. You want to introduce a different kind of shearing action during the conching process, one that is good at breaking down particle agglomerates and coating the particles with butter.

There are three of the principles that guided the development of FBM's Kleego50 (I helped them conceive and develop it).

A) The Kleego has multiple sources of heat that can get the chocolate quite hot - 70C - very quickly. This makes it easier for acetic acid and other unwanted volatiles to evaporate out quickly. Once the right flavor profile has been reached the temperature can be reduced quickly to keep from removing flavors you do want to keep.

B) The Kleego has two fans (one heated) that move a lot of air past the chocolate. This air effectively removes the volatile aromas. The Kleego also has a circulation pump so that the chocolate in the working bowl is being continuously circulated during operation.

C) Instead of grinding wheels, the Kleego has two counter-rotating stirrers that "beat" the chocolate introducing a different kind of shear - one that is very effective at breaking down particle agglomerates and coating the particles with fat.

The Kleego can accomplish in 2-5 hours what it takes 24-48 hours or longer in a CocoaTown, and it's designed to take a full batch out of the CocoaTown ECGC65 (~35kg). This translates to a compressed production cycle and higher productivity in a very compact footprint.

Thanks Clay, I'm not in the Kleego budget ball park yet, but the goal is to be there by next Summer.

Like many places, Summer is our busiest time of year. I was hoping to offer locally sourced, quality, dark chocolate this Summer, but I'm not there yet. Until next summer, will be making a lot of milk chocolate, and cocoa, to sell locally.

I live in Honduras, in a smaller city in the mountains. Thankfully the climate here is agreeable to keeping chocolate on the shelf. In most of Honduras, it's too hot.

Mark - 

I understand completely about your situation.

What I also want to say is that the Kleego50 is a real, functional, alternative to a second (or third) CocoaTown. The cost is within about 10% when you get an ECGC65 with all the bells and whistles. The increase in throughput makes the price difference trivial.

I too would eventually like to purchase the Kleego but in the mean time, could I reduce the conching time in a grinder by blowing hot air over the chocolate such as with a heat gun?

Try insulating your steel bowl. It will keep more heat in. Also, if making dark chocolate, do not add any cocoa butter until it has had time to conche. The cocoa butter will reduce viscosity and temperature.

When I am making milk chocolate, the viscosity seems to be much higher, so conching is pretty much automatic.

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