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Hi, I am planning to turn the basement of an old school house (from 1903) into a professional praline making kitchen, but need some advice regarding air conditioning etc. I know that high humidity is a big problem for the chocolate. Does anyone know the recommended percentage of air humidity in the kitchen (for ex "not more than 75%")? The climate where I live is very dry (and cold) during the winter, but in the summer it can get very hot (Scandinavia). Is it generally a bad idea to build a praline kitchen in a basement? I have plenty of windows.

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Hello. I use a basement. I have different problems-but some are similar. I use an air conditioning unit in our hot months-which also lowers humidity. Please remember that you need a bigger than normal unit if you have a fridge or tempering maching as they generate heat. I also have a de humidifying unit, which in order to de humidify does put out some heat... I would say that I manage well at 65% humidity although lower is better. I keep windows closed quite often as light is not great for chocolate.

Thank you so much Ilana. I do realize I need to use a de humidifying unit and perhaps also an air conditioning dito, but hopefully not more than that..:) . You don't happen to know the ideal room temperature for a chocolate kitchen?

Maria,

 

I assume you'llbe doing tempering for your pralines. If so you'll need to  get the humidity down below 50%, above which chocolate can be very difficult to temper. And I'd keep the temp around 68-72° F. If you using molds, however, make sure they are warmed up to 8F° F or so for dark chocolate so it doesn't shock the tempered chocolate as you put it in the molds, especially for thicker polycarbonate molds. We had trouble with blooming and dull finish even with humidity below 50% and well tempered chocolate when it went into molds that were at room temp.

 

-Nat

____________________

Nat Bletter, PhD

Chocolate R&D

Madre Chocolate

http://madrechocolate.com

Great, this is very interesting information. Many thanks! Indeed I have experienced the problems you mention without really understanding where it went wrong and that is so frustrating.

I just saw my typo, that should be 86° F for the molds. Sorry I was typing in hexadecimal notation yesterday!
OK, thanks - and no problem - I still have to look up the equivalent in Celsius degrees! :)
Nat, great advise. Just a question.. how do yo warm the moulds?
Arun, I'm no expert, but I know that "hot air guns" (please forgive my direct translation from Swedish) or even hair dryers can be used. Any one else?

Hair dryers are pretty essential in chocolate making both for spot warming things and for making sure all equipment is completely free of water before you add the chocolate to it. I usually dry stuff off with a towel and then use the hair dryer until it is bone dry.

 

For warming molds I've used that and putting it in a melting tray at a really low temp (86° F), but the melting tray did weird things to the temper so I think I'd set it lower in the future as some parts of the mold were too hot.

____________________

Nat Bletter, PhD

Chocolate R&D

Madre Chocolate

http://madrechocolate.com

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