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Is sorbitol (in chocolate bonbons) considered a preservative?


Susanne Hindle Kher
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I am using a recipe from Jean-Pierre Wybauw for beer ganache that calls for sorbitol. I have been searching for information online and with  my local shop about whether this is considered a preservative (since I tell everyone I don't use preservatives!).

 

Does anyone know? I'm at a loss!

 

Thanks.

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Hmmm...

 

I'd say it's being used as a humectant - holding water in the center for improved mouthfeel.  

 

Thanks Kerry. I guess this shows the difficulty in figuring out what is/isn't considered a preservative AND whether said additive is even bad (some preservatives aren't bad,right...like citric acid...even necessary).  I haven't seen sorbitol as an added ingredient in any of the artisan chocolates I've bought recently. 

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I don't know which Wybauw book you are using.  I have his Fine Chocolates 2, in which he states that sorbitol occurs in nature in fruits such as apples, pears, grapes, etc.  He says that it is made commercially by the hydrogenation of glucose.  As was previously pointed out by Kerry, sorbitol "prevents the premature drying out of the ganache" (Wybauw, p. 25). It is also well known for having "a powerful Aw-lowering effect" (that is, lowering the level of water activity in the ganache). Therefore, I think we would have to conclude that sorbitol is literally a preservative in that it helps preserve the ganache from spoiling.  But then alcohol has the same water-activity-lowering effect, and I don't believe most would consider it necessary to mention alcohol as a preservative.  I think that in general people think of preservatives as various chemicals added to food they buy in the grocery store that make the item last far longer than it ordinarily would.  I am a little more concerned with sorbitol's undesirable effects on the human digestive system (see Wikipedia if you want to know the details), and although the tiny amount used in a ganache surely would not cause these effects, it is a little offputting (at least to me).  I am reminded of the olestra-containing potato chips marketed back in the 1990s.

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I don't know which Wybauw book you are using.  I have his Fine Chocolates 2, in which he states that sorbitol occurs in nature in fruits such as apples, pears, grapes, etc.  He says that it is made commercially by the hydrogenation of glucose.  As was previously pointed out by Kerry, sorbitol "prevents the premature drying out of the ganache" (Wybauw, p. 25). It is also well known for having "a powerful Aw-lowering effect" (that is, lowering the level of water activity in the ganache). Therefore, I think we would have to conclude that sorbitol is literally a preservative in that it helps preserve the ganache from spoiling.  But then alcohol has the same water-activity-lowering effect, and I don't believe most would consider it necessary to mention alcohol as a preservative.  I think that in general people think of preservatives as various chemicals added to food they buy in the grocery store that make the item last far longer than it ordinarily would.  I am a little more concerned with sorbitol's undesirable effects on the human digestive system (see Wikipedia if you want to know the details), and although the tiny amount used in a ganache surely would not cause these effects, it is a little offputting (at least to me).  I am reminded of the olestra-containing potato chips marketed back in the 1990s.

Olestra - oh, I do remember that!

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Many foods can act as a preservative: sugar and salt to name two. Does that make them a preservative? I think not.

 

Sure they are.  But normally sugar is added in quantities large enough not for it to be considered an "additive".  But if its purpose is to preserve, then it's a preservative, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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I don't know which Wybauw book you are using.  I have his Fine Chocolates 2, in which he states that sorbitol occurs in nature in fruits such as apples, pears, grapes, etc.  He says that it is made commercially by the hydrogenation of glucose.  As was previously pointed out by Kerry, sorbitol "prevents the premature drying out of the ganache" (Wybauw, p. 25). It is also well known for having "a powerful Aw-lowering effect" (that is, lowering the level of water activity in the ganache). Therefore, I think we would have to conclude that sorbitol is literally a preservative in that it helps preserve the ganache from spoiling.  But then alcohol has the same water-activity-lowering effect, and I don't believe most would consider it necessary to mention alcohol as a preservative.  I think that in general people think of preservatives as various chemicals added to food they buy in the grocery store that make the item last far longer than it ordinarily would.  I am a little more concerned with sorbitol's undesirable effects on the human digestive system (see Wikipedia if you want to know the details), and although the tiny amount used in a ganache surely would not cause these effects, it is a little offputting (at least to me).  I am reminded of the olestra-containing potato chips marketed back in the 1990s.

 

I'm making a beer ganache and so I think his recipe calls for "liquid sorbitol" for it's Aw-lowering effect. I can't find liquid sorbitol anyway except by the barrel from China! If I leave it out, I suspect the watery nature of the beer will result in a chocolate with very short shelf life. Thanks for all the input here!

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In Wybauw's Fine Chocolates 2 (which does contain a recipe for beer ganache), he writes (p. 49):  "Unless mentioned otherwise, sorbitol is understood to be in powder form. If you wish to use liquid sorbitol, use 25% more than the indicated quantity. If sorbitol is mentioned in the recipe and is not available, you can leave it out without affecting the recipe. Shelf life will, however, be somewhat shortened."  I bought powdered sorbitol from Chef Rubber; I'm sure it's available many other places.  It is quite inexpensive.

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While all natural you might want to check to see if any who will eat it are lactose sensitive...one of the side problems for SOME folks is there is a laxative effect with almost all the -tols.  I know I have to even check toothpaste and vitamins for the Johnnybird.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm making a beer ganache and so I think his recipe calls for "liquid sorbitol" for it's Aw-lowering effect. I can't find liquid sorbitol anyway except by the barrel from China! If I leave it out, I suspect the watery nature of the beer will result in a chocolate with very short shelf life. Thanks for all the input here!

Sosa do it in 1.5kg containers http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sosa-Sorbitol-1-5kg/dp/B008TN5THO. Keeps well.
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  • 4 years later...

From what I know sorbitol is used to lower the glycemic index (and potentionally make it more diabetes people friendly). Sorbitol is also used when you aim for superfine texture. But note that I am just a happy learner not a professional.

 

Btw anyone willing to share the beer ganache recipe? People in my country would love that :D

Btw2 500 $ for a book excluding shipping is wow...

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