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.

How To Make Fruit Wines

The procedure outlined here is applicable to almost all kind of fruits with the exception of citrus and citric acid containing fruits. Why? The organic acid called citric encourages acidification resulting to a sour tasting wine.  Also, addition of citric acid to adjust acidity is discouraged. Use tartaric acid instead.

Trivia: The term “wine” originally means alcoholic beverage made by fermenting mass of grapes and grapes only.

1) Juice Preparation

Wash fully ripe fruits, cut and scoop out the flesh. Add 3 liters water every kg juice. Add sugar to adjust to 20ºBrix for dry wine and 25ºBrix for sweet wine. I am not giving a certain ratio as sugar concentration changes with different fruit batches. The right thing to do is get the initial brix first (using sugar refractometer) then add sugar gradually (with mixing, of course) until the target is reached. Math savvy can compute how much sugar is needed right away. However, gradual sugar addition is still recommended.

Add 5 ml of 10% sodium metabisulfite per gallon juice to destroy spoilage microorganisms. Cover the jar and let stand for 16-18 hours at room temperature. Note: sodium metabisulfite is processing aid, will never be a part of final product. It is expelled out by the fermentation process.

You may use campden tablet instead of sodium metabisulfite. They are practically the same but the first is easier to acquire.

2) Starter Preparation

Gather 10% of the total volume of juice and pasteurize (heat until 90ºC). Cool to 40-45ºC or until it can be touch comfortably by hand. Inoculate with pure culture of wine yeast. Let stand  for 18-24 hours and inoculate into prepared juice.

Traditional bubod can be used as culture. Bread yeast as well. They are not made for the purpose though and you may end up dumping your product. Getting high quality wine cultures in sachets is the best. If your a biology geek, another option is getting pure cultures in agar slants and growing it on your own little lab.

Only 10% of the total prepared solution should be pasteurized. The remaining 90% should be not. The unwanted microorganisms in it are chemically killed with the use of metabisulfite. Heat is avoided to preserved fruit natural flavors.

3) Fermentation

Add starter culture – the liquid we prepared in “Starter Preparation”. Cover the container with cotton plug and ferment for two days. Replace the cover with fermentation lock and continue fermentation for 3 to 4 weeks. Fermentation is done when bubbling stops.

Fermentation lock is like a one-way door. It allows escape of carbon dioxide (produced by fermentation), but prevents air entry. It can be simply made by boring a hole on container cap. Fitting a flexible hose in cap hole. And dipping the other end of hose in small jar half-filled with water. You’ll see bubbles in this when fermentation is active.

4) Aging and Clarification

Freshly harvested wine is ready for consumption but storing for at least one year improves its clarity and flavor. After aging, siphon the clear wine, taking care to avoid the settled solids at the bottom. Pack into tightly sealed wine bottle.

Other notes:

Temperature affects flavor outcomes. Play with room temp (25ºC) for the start. Make it higher or lower for the next trials until you get the desired outcome. Every yeast has its optimum temperature range. Please refer to its profile!

How can we control room temperature? Install a warmer or air conditioning unit.

Juice pH is also a critical factor in wine waking.  It is not mentioned in “Juice Preparation” but its adjustment should be done.  It affects flavor profile. The process may fail completely when pH is too low. Anything above 3 should be fine but below is disaster. Yeast cannot thrive below that.

Mixture pH can be measured using pH meter. Maybe lowered with the addition of tartaric acid. Again, don’t use citric. Add potassium bicarbonate to raise it. It may also be adjusted by blending juices of different pH, which is only feasible if you have a lot of fruits to play with.

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.

26th BAR Exhibit, Free Taste Round-up

Here are the list of products offering free taste during the recently concluded BAR exhibit. Tasting them all was exciting.

1) Arius Wine from the plant Podocarpus costalis, locally known as arius. The fruit is like a small version of cashew with a different color make. Free taste to serious customers and curious visitors. It was exhibited by Batanes State University.

arius wine batanes state college

2) Wine. Another wine free taste from UPLB booth. I think it was more developed than above.

wine uplb

3) The three bagoong guisado variants; the sweet, regular and spicy (?). Get three mango slices and dip each in bagoong on saucers. The patis on the side could be tasted via another mango slice. From BFAR Central.

bagoong gisado bfar central

4) The hopia malitbuganon from DA-RFU 8. This extra wide hopia is as wide as regular rice serving tray. Ask the booth personnel how it taste and she will let you get a small piece, then hide it after. Let’s not blame her, many exhibit goers are just looking freebies.

hopia malitbuganon

5) I was wondering why there are offering free pineapple slices. Maybe, pineapples are not created equal. Their pineapple fruits taste better than others.

free pineapple slices

6) Sweet sorghum porridge. Too bad for me, they ran out of stock.

sorghum pirridge by bapamin

7) Yet another bagoong guisado, Alavar Brand, from BFAR 9.

mango bagon gata bfar 9

8)  This one only lasted for about 15 minutes. A buko salad imitation using seaweed strips. You’ll never know its seaweeds until it touches your tongue.

seaweeds ala buko salad bfar car

seaweeds strips bfar car

9) Pickled mango and dried mango strips from Pangasinan Tropical.

pickled mango and dried mango strips free taste

pickled mango and dried mango strips

10) Lechon and sausage from BT Black Pig. The Bureau of Animal Industry did bring the two black pigs inside their booth.

bt black native pig products bai

 

bt black native pigs bai

11)  The healthier version of cane sugar, the muscovado.

muscovado by carrd

 

via

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.

Is Sugar Palm Wine Safe From Methanol?

The story. A business minded man attempted to manufacture lambanog from sugar palm sap. However, his excellent idea was never  put to reality. A person from concerned agency warned him about the fishermen who suffered death from lambanog drinking. Lambanog production could be very dangerous without enough technical knowledge.

The question. What if the man eyed making sugar palm wine instead? Would it be safer?

Here are some pointers to consider!

1) Coconut which is a relative of sugar palm is exuding sap with methanol content.  Sugar palm producing methanol is not surprising. Some literature are stating that kaong also has the toxic substance.

2) Lambanog making involves the distillation of fermented coconut sap to increase its alcohol content from the average 14% to 45% (90 proof). There is a drastic increase in ethanol content and so there is also a drastic methanol increase. True if the distillation is not done properly.

3) Natives around the world are drinking fresh sugar palm sap and there is no report about poisoning. The same for fermented sap/toddy.

4) Methanol is more volatile than ethanol.  The first boils at 65°C while the latter boils at 78°C. Both volatilize at ambient temperature. If the sap is allowed to fully ferment into wine, heat build-up might be enough to fend off  bulk of methanol content.

In the end, a reliable laboratory test is needed for consumer safety.

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 Abandoned Fermented Wines

What is on the other side of the black curtain? I am guessing you already knew the answer, the article title has already told you. Plus there is a picture suggestive of what it is below.

black curtains  made of trash bags

The curtain is actually a group of large black trash bags attached together using masking tape. Behind it is a large shelf with lots of 5-gallon capacity water container. Each container contains fermented wines from three years ago. They are abandoned wine. No one dared continuing the process after the project funding got terminated. A sad story.

Are the wines still good? I do not know yet. Maybe throwing them away is the best option.

abandoned fermented wines

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.