Drum Roaster Insulation

Due to numerous unexpected expenses, the budget intended for drum roaster build was reduced to almost penny. Needed to start the project on target date with such small funds. It must be broken down to several small sections. Do one at a time as the budget and incidental materials come. Incidental refers to materials scouted from junk shops, friends donations and scraps from broken equipment.

I placed my bet on the drum first. Besides, this is always to first step found in every roaster build demos and tutorials. We sub-contracted the drum, center shaft and front plate. We don’t have yet the equipment to roll bend thick metal plate and weld the middle shaft in almost perfect center. We build the skeleton housing ourselves and borrowed a 3-phase geared motor plus VFD from a generous friend. The drum rotated as intended and seems to mix the beans well after few trials and modifications. Did a first roast with a poorly made housing – thin galvanized iron sheet. It went well.

drum roaster prototype

Time to get a little serious.

I observed so much heat loss on the sides. Not surprising cause we used galvanized iron sheet. The roast process could have used half the energy with the same output.

Perhaps the best insulation popped out of my mind is the clay brick. I already saw several ovens made of bricks. They looks nice and energy efficient. Locally made pizza oven are lined with bricks. They are not so popular I guess. Heavy and fragile blocks require extra cost and care during transport. I may want to ship the frame and bricks separately. Or, rather build all from scratch in point of installation. Then again, change of position will be tedious.

The next in line is asbestos. They are highly toxic however. It may require me more money for safety measures, hazard pay and hospitalization in the end. Let say we installed successfully with great caution. Roasting my commodity immediately next to unsafe thing makes me feel guilty.

Fiberglass is another a good choice but also has safety issues. Just imagine minute glass pieces suspended in air. It may not hurt skin but what if inhaled? An inert and dangerous foreign matter inside the system.

Then I accidentally saw the ceramic fibers. A guy was installing it in his newly made laboratory oven. Ohh! It maybe my best bet for now if not for its high cost and life span of only two years. It become brittle after the period. Easily broken with slight forces. Meaning, it should be securely installed in-between walls. Preventing it from getting into foods once degradation begins.

I think I should take it slow. Like what i usually do. Use roaster and made modifications as excess budget appears.

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.

Dial Type Thermometer Adjustment

Ooops! I twisted the holder and the dial followed. I thought it was assembled well. Similar dial type thermometer installed in my gas oven has been twisted several times and it is so sturdy. It is provisioned with octagonal shape nut so it can be fixed screwed with a wrench. However I am using bare hands to screw it, holding on face. The dial has never been misaligned. The glass cover had gone off once but it is meant to be like that. Like a twist cap design of glass bottles.

dial type thermometer

My immediate problem was, how could I use it. It gone off the factory setting. Every measuring device is calibrated before dispatch so customers can use it out of the box. Unless, the user is a geek, figuring out how to troubleshoot is bothersome. It is already a faulty device waiting for the garbage can.

I tried twisting the face again and the dial moved. I figured I can re-adjust if I have the same untampered model in hand. Then fix it with a solder or something. I don’t have yet so the next option is side by side measurement with other thermometer. Type is not important but the range matter. Measurement range must be the same or close enough. I can do it the next roasting session. For this obvious reason, refrigerator thermometer cannot be re-calibrated with device for room temperature. Then the latter for oven.

There is another thing I can do right here and right now. That is dip it in substance that has established temperature. Water. It boils at 100. Changes a bit depending on elevation. No need to worry about this if you live near the sea. In our place, it boils slightly lower, 98.9. That point one difference is hard to see on analog devices. I disregarded that and just went into it. I set the water to boiling. Dipped the probe. Waited for the pointer to rise until constant. Rotated the face until the dial was pointing to 100. Let it cool and made a stratch mark where the dial stopped. Of course, I can memorize where the dial rest at ambient temperature. Permanent mark is still better because people forgets.

My application temperature is about 100 to 150 C. Water is fine as reference.

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.

DIY Gas Burner, The First Flame

Flame is obviously hot. However, very few pay attention to how hot it is and its degree of purity. Flame is a necessity. Ever since our ancestors discovered cooking their foods. Making bonfire when the great sun is in hiding and the night is freezing cold. Fueling generators to produce electricity. Can you imagine the status of convenience food items without it. Would there be steel, plastic and paper?

Burning wood has typical color white, yellow and red. White being closest to wood and hottest. Next is yellow and then red. Red is the coldest. Though deemed cold, it will scorch and burn any combustible object it touches. This explain why red is associated with hot perception. At the red tip is black soot. There is no burning there. Waste product basically, carbon dioxide. Other leftover are ash and sometime charcoal.

On rare occasions, I am seeing blue flame on madre de cacao hardwood. Not sure how is it? Maybe due to high concentration of resin. Short lived blue flame on wood usually have whizzing sound.

Alcohol flame is part blue and part colorless. Yellow and red parts are often imparted by wick. Impurities and water contribute to yellow part. The laboratory grade alcohol were using in Bunsen burner were almost always blue. Consumer grade 40% rubbing alcohol burns poorly. The 70% burns better but has great deal of yellow part.

Candle flame bottom part is blue and the rest follow the same pattern as wood. So wax burns better than wood? Not sure. I think I need to read more about this matter.

LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) exhibits blue flame with yellowing on top. There are slight differences from stove to stove. There are brands that can produce all blue flame. I thought it did not matter until I stumbled to a post on “coffee roasters forum”. Someone was badly obsessed with getting his roaster flame all blue. They say blue means more complete burning and is generally hotter. More efficient way to use precious gas. There are ways to tweak the setting to make it all blue.

Blue flame is clean and pretty hot at 1500 C. Impurities produce by other colors could have undesirable effect.

repurposed heavy duty gas burner

When we first fired up our DIY gas burner, all I wanted to see was burning rod. I was happy to see it was working well. Even happier that we can tweak the control to make the flame almost all blue. Now, I want to learn the engineering and science behind it. How can we make near perfect burner for every application in hand.

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 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.