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Novel conching process opens doors for small firms to produce own chocolate mass

By Oliver Nieburg+

03-Apr-2014

Affordable conching equipment through novel method allows small chocolate firms to produce their own masses, says Lipp Mischtechnik. - Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr
Affordable conching equipment through novel method allows small chocolate firms to produce their own masses, says Lipp Mischtechnik. - Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

A new conching process called coarse conching will make it more affordable for smaller chocolate companies to produce their own chocolate mass, according to researchers.

Smaller chocolate companies typically purchase chocolate mass from suppliers as the equipment and process often proves too costly.

German equipment supplier Lipp Mischtechnik GmbH, Mannheim has developed a new conching process that independent researchers claim is affordable for smaller companies.

“Smaller companies can produce their own chocolate mass at acceptable capital investment,” Siegfried Bolenz, a professor at Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, told ConfectioneryNews.

Bolenz recently published a paper financially supported by Lipp Mischtechnik in peer-reviewed journal European Food Research and Technology that details the new conching process.

How does the process work?

The main principal of coarse conching is to perform the conching step first and grinding (roll refining) afterwards.

Chocolate mass is usually produced by roll refining first followed by conching, but Lipp Mischtechnik developed  a conching machine with a high shear head in the kneading zone of the conch, that it calls a ‘vortex chamber’, which allows the conching to take place first.

“The vortex chamber reduces particle size of crystal sugar and serves as an alternative to the initial two-roller refiner in the conventional process,” said the study.

“It would also be possible to perform the coarse conching step and then to feed the intermediate product into a conventional five-roller refiner”

The process is called coarse conching because it creates coarse crystal sugar.

Benefit for large companies

“Larger companies can use the full continuous version, become more flexible in their production and also reduce their capital investment. In terms of product quality all companies can benefit from the reduced yield value, which makes certain downstream processing easier to handle,” said Bolenz.  

Sensory analysis in Bolenz’s study found that the cocoa taste of the chocolate mass under coarse conching was more intense than a mass prepared by the conventional process.

Principally for milk chocolate

Lipp Mischtechnik’s process was developed principally for milk chocolate, but may also have applications for other varieties.

“The process was developed with milk chocolate, so there we gathered most experience,” said Bolenz. “We tested it also for dark and white chocolates; technically it works well for both. Due to the sophisticated flavor profile of dark chocolate individual optimization of process parameters has to be elaborated for specific products.”

Bolenz added that the coarse conching would generally use less energy than a conventional process, but it would depend on the product type.

The process is already commercial available from Lipp Mischtechnik.

Study citation:
Eur Food Res Technol
DOI 10.1007/s00217-014-2165-4
‘Improvement of process parameters and evaluation of milk chocolates made by the new coarse conching process’
Authors : Siegfried Bolenz, André Manske and Michael Langer

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