Taste Like Vinegar and Wine….

Cacao beans should be fermented after taking out of the pod. Not the usual wash-and-dry technique. Otherwise, it is not fit for chocolate making. However, cacao growers should not worry to much about it. There is still market for non-fermented beans. It can still be turned to tabliya. It hurts my ear every time I hear that kind of reasoning. It is like a good song that was awfully rendered. There was a time when a merchant was offering me washed-and-dried beans. I replied, I wanted it fermented. He answered no, fermented beans are for export while the non-fermented are for tabliya making. What was wrong with them?

I used to buy the non-fermented. I stopped when I established reliable suppliers of good beans. It is fact, fermentation is requirement for good tasting chocolate. Others often taste boring and most of the time have inherent soil taste. Is that what they call “earthy”? Perhaps, but what I am referring to is strong soil flavor. It is not pleasant.

Like what others do, I can buy separate set of washed-and-dried beans and save couple of pesos per kilogram. Then get rid of the minor problem I will mention later. However, the bigger problem lies with the storage. It is very attractive to weevils. A 50 kilogram sack often never last for two weeks. It becomes unfit for roasting after the said period. Weevils quickly get to unmanageable numbers which the customers are sure to return the product to us. We don’t like that incident to happen. So if we found unusable unfermented batch, it is automatically rejected and profit loss,  with portion of the capital.

Here is the minor problem. It maybe huge as there is very small portion of customer pool brave enough to complain. They said, why our tabliya tasted like wine and vinegar. Yes, if the one buying is accustomed to regular grocery cocoa powder. He is sure has a big question mark in his head right after sipping the first cup. The same is true for baking purposes, as the alkalized and non-alkalized cocoa mass should be used differently.

We are always explaining. We are using good fermented beans and never adding any except some sugar for our 70% bars (and other higher concentration bars). Our 100% bars and pure tabliya are nothing but cacao. We never claim it is minimally processed and hand made though. The processing from bean to bar or to tabliya requires several machinery and lasts for few days. It is never artisinal. By definition, it means “by hand”. Purely by hand is not impossible but highly inefficient.

There are several ways get rid of winey and vinegary taste. First is the choice of unfermented beans. Second. Roast it longer, refine longer and conch longer. Lengthy processing times remove most of the undesirable flavors but also bring the good with it. You’ll probably end up with flat and boring product. Third is alkalization. It is as simple as adding the nibs or mass with alkaline substance to get a neutral pH and getting rid of acid taste. Then, it allows greater extraction of butter and the remaining mass dissolves better in water.

Third. I think it is the most significant. Commercial makers and some micro to small scale processors are adding too much ingredients. To extent, cacao become a very small fraction of a whole. We love the concoction and often rejects the pure thing.

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.

Sinamak Vinegar and Samak Tree

After the training, we went down the road going back to hotel. I saw a familiar but unknown tree. I asked them what it is called. They quickly replied it is Samak. An ingredient of popularly known sinamak vinegar. Fruits, bark and leaves are used in the process.

samak tree

Knowing its local name allowed me to search more information on net.

According to pinoytrees. Samak or Macaranga grandifolia is a small tree reaching a height of 7 meters. It is an endemic species according to Uly, only seen in Luzon and Mindoro. Yet Sir George mentioned that this plant has long been cultivated in places like Hawaii. In the Philippines only few know the aesthetic value of this unique arborescent species.

Yeah. I had no idea this tree is of other use beside serving as land cover.

I looked around the net and read sinamak vinegar information. However, the term sinamak literally means spiced vinegar. It is a collection of spices soaked in vinegar of any kind. The samak is not mentioned in any of recipes.

Thanks to mmsu.edu.ph, who posted something about vinegar and samak tree.

Pamulinawen Ilocos Organic Vinegar is a product of successive microbial process, an alcoholic fermentation of sugarcane juice effected by a mixture of dried leaves, fruit and bark of samak tree.

So it is indeed a material for vinegar making but not necessarily sinamak.

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.

Making Natural Vinegar

A handful of discouragement before we begin.

Making vinegar involves two completely separate process. First is wine process, the second is vinegar process. I mean wine should be created first before vinegar.

Wine is pricier than other. So why bother jumping to second process if you can sell the first for more money, with lesser inputs.

Microorganisms are hard to work with. Saccharomyces cerevisiae for wine and Acetobacter aceti for vinegar. Make mistake on first and you fail, make mistake on second and you still fail. It is either all or nothing.

Natural and synthetic vinegar contain the very same acid. The acetic acid. The first has a tedious process while the latter can simply be made by mixing 4% acetic acid anhydrous (powder) to potable water. The price difference between the two is high. You’re going to have a hard time marketing the natural, unless your target is class A and B.

And here are some tips.

Many vinegar vendors along street sides claim their vinegar are naturally made. The truth is, they are selling one of the three. Synthetic, natural or combination. Natural vinegar lose their cloudiness overtime and has sediments in bottom. On the other hand, synthetic vinegar stays cloudy because of chemical cloudifier. Combination will also stay cloudy.

If you are into wine business, it is wise to convert low alcohol content batch to vinegar. If your target is about 14% alcohol, batches which have lower should be fermented to vinegar.

Palm vinegars such as coconut, sugar palm and buri take spontaneous process where wine and acetic acid fermentation occur simultaneously without human intervention. However, again, if you know how to make a distilled liquor, the popular lambanog of coconut, you’ll never take the vinegar route.

Vinegar can be produced out of any fruits, fruit peels, woods, grass stalks or root crops with appreciable amount of sweet juice.  Yacon for root crops, sugar cane for grass and pineapple for peels.

Continue reading if you insist.

The Wine Process

Follow the wine making steps… by end… you have two choices. 1) Wait until the bubbling stops and adjust down the alcohol content down to 6% by adding water. 2) Monitor alcohol content and halt fermentation at 6%. Use alcohol hydrometer or alcohol refractometer for this purpose.

The Vinegar Process

Heat the solution up to 90°C. Then transfer to wide mouth container. Leave about five inches head space. Add mother vinegar, a little may do. Cover with cheese cloth and allow to ferment for one week.

The recommended ratio of wine to mother liquor is 1:2. You have to bear with the above method for the start. Gather mother liquor from different source such as coconut or sugar palm. If succeeded, harvest only 1/3 and fill the container to volume with freshly prepared wine.

Mother liquor is vinegar with live Acetobacter aceti.

Legal vinegar has acetic acid content of about 4%. You must know how to determine titrable acidity to know its value. The manner of adjustment is by adding water or mixing batches of different values.

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.

Removing Paint Odor from the Newly Delivered Baking Oven

An imported good looking oven (perhaps, good performing too) cost around 150 thousand pesos. A locally manufactured version with almost the same capacity is way way cheaper. A jaw dropping price of only 12,000 thousand pesos for 4 trays oven. So I settled for the latter. I was hoping I could make it work for my purpose with few minor tweaks. However, I am still planning to acquire the more expensive one once the budget become friendlier.

So it arrived and I was a bit excited. I can never use it yet however due to strong paint odor. The delivery guy told us, they finished it late morning and it was sent for delivery right after (and they made us wait up to 10 pm). They added, we need to fend off the odor first by placing a cup of vinegar inside and letting it stand for few days, else, our few first baked products will exhibit foul odor. His idea contradicted what I have in mind. I was thinking of putting some fresh charcoal. Its activated carbon will surely scavenge most of undesirable aroma.

oven

I followed what the guy said. They are oven makers, so I expected they know what they recommended. I removed all the tray racks including the metal sheet divider in between flame and lower tray rack. Their smell will cease faster if dried outside our terrace. Then I put a cup of vinegar inside and let the oven unused for one whole week. I fired it up after the period and the foul smell are all gone.

Oven ready for first use.

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.

Vinegar Causes Toughening of Vegetable Fibers

Your favorite vinegar can do more than making your vegetable sour. What is it? Find it out…

I was cooking a vegetable dish. Mom stopped me from adding vinegar. She said it should be mixed when vegetable ingredients are soft and few minutes before taking out the casserole off fire. What I was about to do would significantly lengthen the cooking process.

Here are the two quotes that support my mom’s claim.

1) Acid does slow down the cooking process, but that the cooking liquid has to be pretty acidic to have a noticeable effect. Adding a few tbsps of vinegar or tomato paste won’t interfere in any way.

2) Fibers are toughened by acids such as lemon juice, vinegar, and tomato products while alkali and heat soften fibers.

In addition, other factors may also cause toughening effect.

1) Calcium and sugar do slow down the cooking process.

2) Very hard water can cause the toughening of vegetables such as green beans. This is in connection with calcium, since hard water has it.

Our professor in meat processing subject told us. Follow what is exactly written in any meat recipe, else facing undesirable outcome is likely. You may, if you know the science behind what you are doing. Well, I can say, the same is true with vegetable recipes.  Do not add vinegar immediately if it is set on end steps, unless you want to toughen the vegetables and lengthen the cooking time.

source 1, 2, 3

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.