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November 09, 2013 1 Comment
Hurray, a new gadget for the shop! This is called a bean mill, and is designed for small batch usage. This particular design is available at http://www.crankandstein.net/. There are three portions to the machine: the hopper where the beans are loaded, the wooden base that supports the contraption above a bucket or basin, and the knurled rollers that turn via the hand crank.
The journey of a cacao bean is long and difficult, between being plucked from the tree to becoming a chocolate bar that melts in your hand. About half way through that process the bean is roasted and then broken up into small pieces called “cacao nibs”. A machine like this bean mill does this cracking step.
Nibs can then be ground into a cocoa liquor (or paste) before either being pressed into cocoa butter and cocoa powder, or you can continue further grinding up the liquor with sugar and more cocoa butter in a melanger or a conche. This final stage is when you can finally call it “chocolate”. There’s a lot more information on grinding and mixing here: http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/grinding.php
After the bean is cracked, you’re left with cacao nibs and husks. The husks are winnowed away by blowing air into the basin or something similar. It’s a messy business, but the freshly cracked cacao smells incredible!
We’ll have the bean mill set up at the shop and will be experimenting with different uses for the nibs. Stop on by if you’re curious.
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August 29, 2023 1 Comment