The Kalukati

The Kalukati or Pangkalukad. It is a small contraption use to break open mature cashew seeds to get the white curly nuts. The tool composes of two parts. First is the metal base. It has narrow long groove along the middle which receives the cutting wedge. I think it also help hold the nut in position while cutting, in reinforcement of holding it with bare hand. One end is pointed and curved downward. A mean of fixing itself onto table. Quick removal for transfer to another more comfortable location or for storage. Another end has the fulcrum attached with the cutting wedge. The second is the cutting knife with a wooden handle.

kalukati not installed

Cashew seed breaking is done by placing the seed in between and pressing the knife down forcefully by hand. Of course, it should be cut along the nut breaking line. The white soft part of the seed should be facing up or down. After, the nut is then prick out by with pointed object, small kitchen knife or something similar.

Because it breaks the seeds into halves, the resulting nuts are also halves. If whole nuts are desired, another more sophisticated tool is required. This is so designed to cut only the thick seed coat followed by a twisting motion revealing a whole cotyledon. I never seen such in my recent travel to Palawan though.

It definitely look unhygienic because of the obvious stains, rusts and wooden handle. Stainless build is generally recommended. I like it though because of its old looking and rugged appearance. It might have collectors value after few years. Adding the fact that it is a made-to-order item. That was what they said to me. They could ask the blacksmith to made one for me if I would stay for few more days. Sorry, my schedule never allowed it. Besides, I was really eyeing for the old used one.

Usage requires wearing gloves. Hands dirt contaminating cashew is secondary thing. The seed sap is harmful to skin. Not sure the course of events but they assure it is painful.  Thicker gloves are recommended. The staff know very well that it could wound or even cut fingers if they are not careful. In case of accidents, the gloves are their only protection.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Ceramic Non Stick Pans

My four year old daughter became accustomed to watching the regular morning show, Shop Japan. She is always asking to power on the television to watch her favorite segment, the Cerafit.

Shop Japan is a television show selling variety of products. Transaction is via phone. Goods are delivered at customer’s doorstep and payment is done COD. Cerafit is one of their products. A non stick pan made by union of ceramic and metal.

Why use a non stick pan?

Short answer with long elaborate explanation. That is to prevent sticking of fish and meat on pan while frying. Such thing damage food appearance, reduce the edible part and makes cooking harder.

Alternate answer. To prevent sticking, for people who never know why it sticks and how to prevent it.

The sticking phenomenon all boils down to protein chemistry. Food items such as meat, fish and eggs are protein packed. These proteins when heated slowly turn into glue like structure and bind themselves to pan metallic surface.

So with ordinary frying pan and oil, the trick is raise the heat of meat as fast as possible. Practice, practice and practice… There is no shortcut to this. Failure is part of your training.

This problem is commonly seen in shallow oil frying. Almost non-existent in deep frying. Most want shallow oil to save on cost.

Alternate answer number two. We want an oil free fried foods. Based solely on my own experience. Oil-less frying is possible only on non-stick pans. As I said above, the temperature should be raised as quickly as possible or else will suffer sticking. If I do that without oil, the meat surface in contact with metal will get burnt in no time. The feat can be achieved with non stick pans only.

Why ceramic?

The non stick feature is achieved by covering the pan surface with non stick material called Teflon. It is a heat resistant polymer that faces durability issues.

It is heat resistant but only up to 620.3F or 326.8C. While cooking, the heat can easily go beyond due to negligence, lack of experience and other unforeseen circumstances. Result is melted plastic and the pan is non-stick no more.

Teflon non-stick pans require care during washing. Scrubbing pads and steel wool are no no. One mistake could mean the end of it.

It should be partnered with plastic type ladle and spoon. Metallic utensils will scrape off coatings easily.

Ceramic overcomes these weakness.

How about copper?

I thought copper is affordable electricity conductor. I never thought it would be good frying pans too. Maybe we were thinking the same thing. Copper is a soft metal. Bends easily. A copper pan is expected to have numerous dents after several rough use.

A sponsored post on Facebook captured my attention for a while. A non stick copper pan being sold on 99santa.com. The product is claimed durable and ceramic infused. The MVP is still ceramic. Copper is employed for quick and even heat distribution.

Ceramic pans are clearly making its way to households. If proven more durable, reliable and safe, will surely knock down the Teflon counterpart in no time.

We have a ceramic pan at home. We have been using it for about a year now. The underneath is darkened and somewhat rusty. The middle surface of coating is darkened too. The shape became more concave due to accidental drop. The ceramic is still intact, no scratch, no breaks. Still working perfectly.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The White and Covered Pail

It was used to contain pasteurized egg white. Now, we are using it as raw material and semi-finished product storage. I see some micro enterprise doing the same thing. In fact, I get this affordable idea from them.

white-covered-pail

I worked in medium scale company before. We were using the same pail as finished product packaging. Then, the empty pails were being returned to us for re-use.

I never know what kind of polymer it is. Based solely on my observation, it is relatively thick, strong and slightly flexible. I rotated it slowly and continuously, flipped it several times, but never found any clue. Polymer type is usually embossed somewhere underneath. This container has none.

It is resealable. Almost airtight seal. I have no device to test and prove it so “almost” is a safe term. Roasted cocoa nibs stays crunchy for over three months.

We are buying few every now and then. A 100 peso each in nearest public market. Eighty pesos each on depot and 50 pesos anywhere near the factory. We never buy in bulk so the highest acquisition price never matters. Plus, the public market is just few minutes away from our home.

Stackable and space saver when empty. I am stacking it three layers on full container without worries of fall over or the bottom container getting damaged. When empty and cover removed, it can be pile on each other to save space.

Label says, 20 liters capacity, for pasteurize egg white and other liquid ingredients I guess. As for our raw material, it holds eight to ten kilograms depending on average bean size.

On the good side, it is white, looks clean and pleasant on eyes. On contrary, It looks ugly when dirt and stains started adhering. Regular and thorough cleaning is necessary.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Melanger Now Runs on Solar Energy

As usual, like other electronic items I ordered, the solar panel came in a basic kit. Enough to get me started going off grid. I love to do the installation myself and also saving some labor. Imagine, the installation fee was 30% of kit cost.

It took me a day of testing all of the components integrity. Powering a LED bulb on second day. Running a laptop and 3D printer on third day. Then my ultimate goal on the fourth day. Running the chocolate melanger. It powered up nice and smooth.

At the moment we already depleted our cacao stock. I run the melanger empty for only 30 minutes. I could only run that long because running it on empty load is not ideal. I am expecting at least full eight hours run on good sunny days and five hours extension at night. Testing other production equipment will follow.

I think I should put on the product label something like this, “Made using renewable energy source, solar electricity”.

Having solar power system is not only about savings. It gives you the option to continue regular manufacturing process during line power outage. Because you own one, you never completely depends on local electric provider.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Solar Energy to Power Food Machinery

Sun is free energy. Giving its own to specific area for over ten hours a day. Having the right tool, we can harness the sunshine to produce electricity. Enough to light our home, power refrigerator, television and use some luxury gadgets.

So why do we have to pay for huge sum of monthly electric bill? I don’t know. Better ask yourself!

Today, I just finished installing our very first solar panel system. It composed of 400 watts solar panels, PWM solar charge controller, 3 6SM deep cycle solar batteries and a 1000 watts pure sine wave power inverter.

solar panel control center

solar panel

I never expect it to completely replace the Meralco grid. I just wanted a kickstart in free energy revolution and reduce our electric bill to some extent.

Specifically, I wanted to power the melanger, which grind cocoa, without worrying about electricity cost. A batch of eight kilogram nibs needed 12 to 24 hours run time. Imagine how much will I save using sun’s energy. Then, savings mean additional resource to play with.

Running my DIY bean winnower and chocolate cooler few hours day are plus points.

When all said equipment are not in used. I intend to use excess energy to run a six cubic refrigerator, my personal laptop, few LED bulb at night and charge gadgets. This is specially true during power outage.

I intend to upgrade the system in the near future. Add more panels and batteries. Replace the solar charge controller and inverter with higher capacities. A wind turbine is a great option too.

The solar panel system and melanger were acquired thru DOST-SETUP.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.