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Everything posted by DomDeFranco

  1. Thanks Rajala. Once I looked into the prices for all the bits and pieces I may need, It was a bit out of my price range just now I'm afraid. The Chinese pawkit knock-off will have to do just now! 😢
  2. Thanks Kerry. Do you just need the one salt standard or do you need to get several?
  3. Hi guys, I've been offered an older model Novasina Labmaster Aw, the model before the Neo came, out for £800 (about $978). It doesn't come with any sample cups or the calibration salt tablets. I'm wondering if this is a good deal or not? The accuracy on these machines looks top notch (+/- 0.003 aw) but i can't see a price anywhere on getting these salt tablets and the one price i saw on the sample cups was £240 for 100, which seemed a bit pricy. Any advice or thoughts on whether this is worth buying and how much the sample cups and salt tablets can be gotten from and for how much would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Dom
  4. Ah sorry, I've just realised I didn't specify that these recipes are in the same book. So in one book they'll have De Farine T45, De Farine T55 and just De Farine and i was wondering what the De Farine on it's own is?
  5. Thanks for your thoughts. I'm based in the UK, so sourcing the right type of flour wouldn't be a huge hassle. It's pretty rare in English recipes where they just list flour in a recipe without telling you what type, but i've been looking at French recipes online as well and this seems to be a thing. The reason I asked was that i noticed some recipes state to use T45 and some T55 and others just flour (farine) so I thought there must be some convention in France that if you just state "flour" then it is a specific type, but perhaps not. And yeah, because we all have different types of wheat and grinds and classifications etc, translating baking recipes can be a tricky task. So when a recipe states just flour in France it's usually for T45 or are you thinking that because it's in a patisserie book? For most recipes you can take a pretty good guess at the type of flour but in this case i'm actually researching into choux pastry recipes and i've noticed different chefs using all kinds of different flours. I thought it must be some sort of convention or something but perhaps not. Thanks
  6. Hi Guys, I ordered a couple of French patisserie books (In French!) and I can't speak French. I've noticed that in some recipes rather than specifying a type of flour (T45/55 etc) they only list flour (de farine). Does anyone know what type of flour they mean when they just say flour? I assume this must be a standard thing in French recipe books. Thanks, Dom
  7. Thanks for doing this. I've ordered one of them from alibaba so with your and @Rajala's results it seems they're up to the job! Good stuff
  8. Interesting. What do you think could replace E171 as a backing colour?
  9. Thanks. I saw that rice starch seems to be used as a white colouring agent for some applications, but i imagine it might make the cocoa butter too thick. I might give it a little try to see what it turns out like.
  10. I wondered if anyone had come across an e number free/natural/TO2 free (whatever the term is for it) white food colouring available to buy? As discussed previously, many countries have banned or are in the process of banning TO2, but I can't seem to find a white alternative yet? Has anyone saw anything and what do those who are going for clean labels use to replace white cocoa butter? Thanks
  11. Yeah, that chart clearly shows the massive difference temperature has on shelf life. It would have been nice if they Included fridge temperature in their experiment but I guess that wasn't their focus at the time. I think the guidelines @Kerry Beal devised for shelf life estimates for different confections are really useful. I was wondering where you guys would put a pate de fruit in there? My conclusion to all this, for what it's worth, is that for the more shelf stable products like caramels, giandujas etc, basing shelf life estimates on AW is fine, but when it comes to ganache with cream and fruit etc you really have to do a full shelf life test and just test them yourself (at similar storage conditions to your customers) every week or so until the shelf life period you're looking for is over. For yourself and the more experienced chocolatiers, who have fairly stable recipes for the different type of ganaches and products etc, I think you'll be able to come up with fairly accurate shelf life estimates for new products based on what you've made before. For those of us like myself who are still fairly new to it all, we'll just have to do full shelf life tests for the higher AW items on our menus, until we have that bank of recipes and experience. At the moment I'm being very cautious and claiming 2 weeks at 21 degrees and under as that's all I've tested for.
  12. Yeah, I'm working on some marketing materials for wholesale customers and was initially hoping I could base shelf life on water activity alone. There's such a huge variation in what different AW's correspond to in terms of shelf life though, that basing your shelf life solely on AW, especially if you're looking at longer shelf lives for wholesale customers seems potentially problematic. For an AW of .80 say, Confectionary & Chocolate Engineering has it at 27 days, Pro-Choc says 124-137 days, Melissa Coppel says 35-42 and J.P. Wybauw reckons up to 91 days between 0.70 - 0.85, which is pretty hard to decipher. From Confectionary & Chocolate Engineering: "Enzymatic activity starts at about aw =0.3, mould growth starts at about aw =0.75, yeast growth starts at aw =0.8 and bacterial growth starts at aw =0.9 – all these four types are stimulated by an increase in aw." I've saw different ranges for these categories in different books as well! 0.75 seems to be a good AW to aim for and then maybe have a more limited menu that changes more slowly, that you can be sure of for wholesale customers. I'd be interested to know what AW's people are aiming for and what they market the shelf life as? Thanks
  13. I was wondering what process you guys follow for assessing shelf life? Do you just base it on the water activity or do you do full shelf life tests as well? Or perhaps another process?
  14. Yeah, i think the US version has corn syrup whereas the UK/EU version uses sucrose i think, so that would explain the lower rating i guess.
  15. Thanks for the quick reply. I think the Aqualab PawKit model claims the same 0.02+/- accuracy but in the UK it's 10 times the price of the Chinese ones and unfortunately I can't afford that, let alone any of the more accurate models. For me, it's a choice between a Chinese meter or a pro-choc subscription and pro-choc's AW estimates don't seem that great. Waiting an hour for a reading, while annoying, isn't a deal breaker for me. Thanks for your help.
  16. This is very cool. Thanks to everyone taking part in this experiment! @Rajala I was wondering if you've done any experiments yourself comparing your 2 meters as I was looking to get one of those cheaper Chinese ones but wasn't sure how accurate they were? They say +/-0.02 AW accuracy on the description but, i've no idea how true that is. @Kerry BealWhat do you think of those Pro-Choc estimates? They seem pretty off at first glance. Thanks
  17. Thanks for doing this. Very interesting! From what I can gather, lowering the pH does not have a significant effect on water activity. Could be the solids then? The shelf lives are interesting for the basic ganache. I haven't been making chocolates for very long, so it would be interesting to see what yours and others experience and gut feeling is for all these different shelf lives? 6 days for a 1:1 ganache seems very high to me, but I don't know? Is this at room temperature?
  18. Sounds like an interesting experiment. I know that if the pH is low then you can have a higher AW without it affecting the shelf life as much but i'm not exactly sure what the ranges for these things are. I came across a paper that estimates the AW by using a formula using brix and pH measurements. I imagine pro-choc probably uses something like that. I'm going to buy one of those cheapo water activity meters so it would be great to see how they compare to the pAwkit ones. They still work out cheaper than a pro-choc subscription, so worth a try i guess. I live in the UK though, so not sure if there would be some weird Tax rules/rates if I send it Canada and then you send it to me?
  19. There doesn't seem to be much consistency in the different recommendations, that's for sure. So, the pH is obviously very important as well. It could be that pro choc takes into account the pH as well as the AW? And perhaps, as many ganache recipes include ingredients to lower the pH, that would explain the difference in the higher AW ratings between bakers and chocolatiers? Sorry I mean the difference in shelf life for the same AW ratings. I assume there must be research done on the relationship between AW, pH and shelf life. I'll see if I get a bit of time over the weekend to look into it. As an aside, I've noticed water activity meters on Alibaba for $3-400. I don't suppose anyone has any experience with them? Thanks
  20. No problem Yeah, it's difficult finding good information on it. There are more formulas in that chapter that take into account the type of packaging and the storage environment and even the geometry of the product! But once the product is in your customers hands, it's very difficult to estimate all these conditions. I'm thinking of saying that my chocolates are good for at least x amount of weeks stored between 18-21 degrees in a dry environment. Or something like that. Here is an interesting graph from another article i found on Aw and shelf life at different temperatures. https://www.biscuitpeople.com/magazine/post/Internal-factor-influencing-shelf-life-of-bakery-products
  21. I've been looking into water activity (AW) and shelf life and came across some interesting formulas for estimating shelf life from the water activity of an item. First a few provisos: This formula was originally developed for baked goods, in particular cakes. The formula has only been validated for AW's between 0.74-0.90 The formula assumes that the items will be stored at a constant temperature. The formula below is for 21 Degrees Celsius. The formula assumes that the AW of the item does not change while in storage. When we're talking about shelf life here, they specify Mould Free Shelf Life (MFSL). Obviously whether the product has mould or not is certainly not the only factor that would affect it's quality. So with that all being said, I thought the results were interesting and in some cases very different from the previous examples given in the thread from Melissa Coppel and Wybauw. Stored at 21 Degrees Celsius Log10 (MFSL, days at 21°C) =7.91 - (0.081 x AW) AW MFSL (Days) MFSL (Weeks) 74 82 10.8 75 68 9.8 76 57 8.1 77 47 6.7 78 39 5.6 79 32 4.6 80 27 3.8 81 22 3.2 82 19 2.6 83 15 2.2 84 13 1.8 85 11 1.5 86 9 1.3 87 7 1.0 88 6 0.9 89 5 0.7 90 4 0.6 I came across it in chapter 17 on water activity and shelf life in Confectionary & Chocolate Engineering. I then found the same formula again in Bakery Food Manufacture & Quality which cited original work on this going back to the 60s which was then "robustly" validated in papers published in the 90s. A particular paper that gets cited a bit but i can't actually find seems to be where the original formulas come from. Couvain, S. P., and D. A. L. Deiler. "Equilibrium relative humidity and the shelf life of cakes." FMBRA Report 50 (1992). Obviously the best way to assess shelf life is to actually test it, but I thought it was interesting and useful so thought I'd share it. There is a webpage that has the calculator where you can select 21 or 27 Degrees C and enter your AW. It will then give you an estimate for the MFSL. https://www.dairyscience.info/newCalculators/mould.asp
  22. Yeah, it is expensive. I've been using callebaut for my experiments so far like you suggested. I've been working through the chocolate academy videos, although a lot of them seem to be available for free elsewhere. I'll definitely look into savour. My Scottish accent would entertain you as well I'm sure. Haha 😃
  23. Absolutely. I was thinking of doing a course at some point in the future. I think his course on fillings with all the AW readings for each recipe looked particularly interesting. While i've never worked with moulded chocolates before, I have done PDF, truffles and hand dipped ganache before for petit fours, as well as chocolate decorations for deserts, so i'm not starting completely from scratch with chocolate. I've been using the microwave for tempering and seeding with callets, but I'm looking to use silk and sous vide to test how that would work in a production capacity (as well as i can anyway). Budget is definitely a factor, I've already bought some moulds and an air compressor and have ordered a spray gun, although that will take up to 3 weeks to arrive. I've made some simple bonbons with no cocoa butter decoration and I'm concentrating on different types of ganache and caramels for fillings just now. I'm thinking of using Amedei as I'm half Italian and was looking into trying a bean to bar company based in Scotland but I'll have to see how their chocolate works out. I'm thinking I may have to use a a more fluid chocolate for the shells. While i'm asking a lot of questions ,i don't intend to start out doing anything too crazy. 6 flavours to start with, then take it from there. Thanks for laying out some of the things to think about pastrygirl. Thanks again.
  24. Thanks for the reply curls! I dug the vacuum sealer from the back of the cupboard (last time i used it was for the Christmas Turkey) and it has a Vacuum/Seal Button, Cancel and Seal Only. Hopefully if I'm quick on the trigger I can Cancel the Vacuum Seal and quickly press the Seal Button. Thanks for the recommendation. I've been stalking the forum for a while before I posted, so I've purchased the Notter and Greweling books. I was in 2 minds about getting Fine Chocolates Gold, but at £84 on Amazon here, that will have to wait. I tried to request it at my local library, but they said it was too expensive and too niche to order in. I came across these courses on making bonbons, not sure if anyone has any experience with them? Thanks Again
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