Sealing Plastic on Candle Flame

With the fast technology advancement and lowering price of plastic sealer, I never imagined there are businesses who still use the old aged plastic sealing technique. Melting the opening with a candle flame. There are cases where alcohol and kerosene lamp  are use. The candle and alcohol lamp are fine but kerosene is unforgivable. The food is likely to absorb the foul smell.
merengge-sealed-with-flame
Table top impulse sealer can be acquired for as low as 800 pesos and hand-held sealer for 180.
There are three reason why I am against it. I already mentioned the first above. Plastic sealers are very affordable nowadays. The only reason you cannot buy is you never want to.
The second is aesthetic value. It is not pleasing to the eye. It looks cheap. Not unless the producer wanted his product to look cheap.
On the side note: There are cases when customers never wanted buying when the product looks expensive even though the price is affordable. My friend changed his peanut butter packaging to a more elegant PET and his customers declined. I shifted the shape of common cacao tablets (tabliya) to bar style. Then most customers never wanted it.
The third and the last. It is inefficient. It requires a skilled hand to achieved a good seal with a fast rate. Too fast and there will be too many fail seals. Too slow and you’ll never get what you pay for labor.

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.

Cacao Beans | Preventing and Killing Weevils, Bukbok

Here came another set of cacao beans. One hundred kilograms in two sacks. I have been very busy since I accepted the four-days a week research related job. Working in office and laboratory four times a week, 10 hours a day; sleeping on Fridays,  attending classes on Saturdays, and; doing academic assignments and blogging on my spare times. Oh, I almost forgot, I need to make tabliya every time someone threw me a call. The reason why I bought nicely fermented cacao beans.

I am constantly in hectic schedule and I am sure that this new stock will last for several months. The pesky weevils will surely take the opportunity to attack. Eating the precious beans, produce offspring and ruin its quality.

What are the methods I can use to prevent weevil attacks and drive away those already present?

The popular suggestions:

Refrigeration and or freezing. Definitely not suitable for insect growth. Suitable only for wet goods or dry items in small quantity. Placing 100 kilograms cacao beans in freezer or refrigerator is ridiculous.

Fumigation. Literally means incorporating substance harmful for weevil pest. It might be harmful to humans too. I never want to risk my health and health of my kids, family and customers. I want my product in near state of perfect safety.

Bay Leaf. A plant claimed to drive away weevils. A hundred kilo cacao beans perhaps need a lot of leaves. It is not practical. Mixing and removal from beans will be a hassle.

Sealing in air-tight bags, in plastic material thick enough to prevent oxygen entry and strong to resist weevil mandibles (do they have mandibles?). It might work! Prevent weevil entry. Insects already present will sooner or later die due to lack of oxygen. One hundred kilo is too large but it can be divided to many small batches, five kg per bag.

Going to find the plastic packaging that suits my need. Pack beans and seal tightly. Hope it works.

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.

Brittle and Non Heat Resitant Plastic Wares

I inspected this plastic bowl over and over again. No any deformations found. I fitted it with bowl of the same type. The two are perfectly the same in terms of shape and appearance.

brittle bowlplastic blowlsemi-ceramic bowlShe bought the two semi-ceramic plastic bowl from nearby public market. I think she got the two for 20 pesos. She bought it for the one and only reason, cheap.

I called it semi-ceramic cause it has the brittleness of ceramic wares but too thin and light like plastic wares. Maybe it should be called plastic-ceramic. I’m not sure about it. Please enlighten me!

It tend to break upon drop but more resistant than ceramic due to lightness. The design wash away easily with repeated cleaning. Scrubbing pad causes shallow but numerous scratches. It results to design erasure  and clinging of hard to remove dirt.  Old dirty wares of this type often ends in garbage bin.

Why I inspected it for deformities?

She has the habit of two-in-one food reheating. Placing the old dish in bowl, then on top of old rice, covering and reheating on lpg stove.

She told me that it softened after reheating. Ouch! Some chemicals might have migrated to ginatang labong. Thank goodness, there was no noticeable change in flavor and aroma. We ate it as if nothing happened.

I can’t believed the bowl had no deformations.

Maybe this cheap bowl was included in Ecowaste Coalition warning list. Some cheap bowls from other country which are not recommended for food applications. It might contain toxic substances that might transfer to food.

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.

Turning A Plastic Container To A Measuring Cup

There are reasons to make a DIY measuring cup. It is cheap. It saves the cost of buying inferior or high quality version. It is customizable – small, medium or big : ml, liter, quarts or pint : small or large graduation. Never worry about borrowers. Create, let go and create again. Making one is easy and it is as simple as conducting intermediate laboratory experiment.

1) Get the container to be transformed into a measuring cup. It could be an empty PET bottle, plastic drinking glass, plastic cup or any other container with transparent to semi-transparent appearance.

2) Provide a permanent marker. It should produce a thin, visible and permanent line. A knife or any pointed object capable of scratching the container surface will do.

3) Choose between two available tool for calibration.

a) Volumetric Glassware. Either graduated cylinder or volumetric flask. Class A volumetric flasks are very accurate and more accurate than graduated cylinders. Erlenmeyer flasks and beakers are not recommended. Their printed graduation are rough approximates.

b) Digital Weighing Scale. It can measure volume following the truth that one ml of pure water is equivalent to one gram.

4) Decide on graduation (1,2,3,4 ml: 5,10,15,25 ml: 10,20,30,40 liters) Judge the graduation base on purpose and container size. A one ml graduation is crazy on a six liters mineral PET bottle while a one liter graduation is impossible for a 300ml glass.

5) Place the container on flat and level surface. E.g. for 5 ml graduation, measure 5ml water using volumetric equipment or 5 g distilled water using digital weighing scale. Pour to container carefully. Find the lower meniscus of liquid and mark it. Repeat until the container is full.

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.

Filling Hot Liquids in Disposable Drinking Cups

This is a disposable drinking cup. It is too thin. It bents with a slight force. Made to hold water and other cold beverages. Single use and dispose afterwards. It is too thin, made of plastic and seems not suitable for hot liquids like coffee and tea.
squeezing the disposable plastic cup
Is it really not suitable for hot liquids? Think again. Look at the cup bottom. The code symbol number “5”. Code 5 means polypropylene, a polymer resistant to grease, oil and various chemicals. It has high melting point and can be filled with hot foods. Polypropylene is generally recommended for food use.
disposable cup bottom with pp seal
To test, I prepared enough boiling water and poured it immediately in this disposable cup. The rising water vapor can be seen on picture. No deformities was observed after the test.
hot water in disposable cup
Now, can we use this cup for hot coffee or tea. It can be if you can manage to hold the cup without getting burns. However, it can  really be used for variety of purposes like a cheap mold for making jelly, maja blanca and duldol.
Reuse if possible because it is a polypropylene. Wash it well and dry.

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.