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#1 susanmatthews

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 09:17 AM

Let's see. Is it OK for me to start something here? I've been anxious to know everyone's take on adding preservatives. Do you do it? If so, what are your recommendations? If not, what is your average shelf-life?

#2 ducky

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 10:49 AM

I have questions along those lines as well Susan, so don't feel alone. It's the in thing to not use them but if you did want a longer shelf life, where do you go to learn about them? I come from the produce industry which has left me a bit paranoid and I have a hard time wrapping my little pea brain around the fact that you can put cream in something and sell it for a couple weeks. If you choose not to use them, what tips are there to help extend shelf life? And when placing your product with a store, is it their resposibility to watch the shelf life or yours? Do you date your product? When ordering Norman Love's, it comes with a little card explaining that no preservatives are used in the making and that they should be enjoyed within the date on the card. Interesting topic.
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#3 John DePaula

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 08:31 PM

Let's see. Is it OK for me to start something here? I've been anxious to know everyone's take on adding preservatives. Do you do it? If so, what are your recommendations? If not, what is your average shelf-life?

I do not add preservatives to my chocolates simply because I want to make a product that I, as a consumer, would want to buy. I seek out all-natural products made as much as possible with organic ingredients and that philosophy is reflected in my approach to making chocolates.

That gives me about three weeks of shelf-life, though some last considerably longer. In general, those with a higher sugar content (or lower moisture content) will last longer. Take a look at Aw (Activity of Water) from the J.P. Wybauw book, Fine Chocolates / Great Experience.
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#4 John DePaula

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 08:36 PM

I have questions along those lines as well Susan, so don't feel alone. It's the in thing to not use them but if you did want a longer shelf life, where do you go to learn about them? I come from the produce industry which has left me a bit paranoid and I have a hard time wrapping my little pea brain around the fact that you can put cream in something and sell it for a couple weeks. If you choose not to use them, what tips are there to help extend shelf life? And when placing your product with a store, is it their resposibility to watch the shelf life or yours? Do you date your product? When ordering Norman Love's, it comes with a little card explaining that no preservatives are used in the making and that they should be enjoyed within the date on the card. Interesting topic.

That's a really good question, Pamela, and one that's been on my mind lately. For a product like fresh chocolates, I think its essential to display a 'Best by' date. All assortments that I sell to vendors for resale go out with a 'Best by' date along with a list of ingredients. Once the store has the order, then I think it's up to them to pull it if it gets out of date. They know their customer base and should be able to order based on their demographics so that the chocolates will sell before going out of date.

Does that seem reasonable?

I am especially interested in what the other Chocolatiers, both here in Portland and elsewhere, have to say on this issue.
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You cannot legislate compassion into your fellow man (or woman, as the case may be), but we should at least attempt to create a society in which each individual has the opportunity to realize his or her potential. If we meet our citizens' needs for Health Care and Education, everything else will take care of itself. --Me

#5 John DePaula

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 08:55 PM

I have questions along those lines as well Susan, so don't feel alone. It's the in thing to not use them but if you did want a longer shelf life, where do you go to learn about them? I come from the produce industry which has left me a bit paranoid and I have a hard time wrapping my little pea brain around the fact that you can put cream in something and sell it for a couple weeks. If you choose not to use them, what tips are there to help extend shelf life?

To extend shelf life, a few things come to mind right away:

1) Practice good hygiene in the kitchen (obviously) e.g. hand washing, proper use of gloves, ensuring that your equipment has been sanitized, etc.

2) Aw (water activity) is a measure of the water available to microorganisms. Adding sugar (glucose, sucrose, fructose, …) reduces the amount of water for microbes and, therefore, extends shelf-life.

3) Try to incorporate as little air into the product as possible. When you make a ganache, some chocolatiers use a system that whips the cream / chocolate mixture under vacuum so that no air is mixed in, though I've heard that this makes for a less palatable / dry ganache. I don't have expensive machinery like that so I've never tried it.
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You cannot legislate compassion into your fellow man (or woman, as the case may be), but we should at least attempt to create a society in which each individual has the opportunity to realize his or her potential. If we meet our citizens' needs for Health Care and Education, everything else will take care of itself. --Me

#6 sahagún

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 01:55 PM

I don't have my chocolates in other places so I've not had to worry about how people take care of them.

We make small enough batches in the shop, stuff usually never goes over the 2-3 week mark. I have a lot of solid chocolate stuff like barks and just creamless stuff so that lasts a lot longer.

#7 John DePaula

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 10:45 AM

Yes, barks last a lot longer than the filled chocolates. Though I don't like to push that too much since the toppings do go off. One thing I hate is to buy a nice hazelnut and dark chocolate bar only to find that the hazelnuts have gone rancid.

I'm trying to include in my lineup some nice mendiants e.g. Marcona Almonds and Dark Chocolate, Toasted Southern Pecans and Milk Chocolate, Hazelnut, Dried Cherry, Organic Candied Orange with 70% Dark Chocolate.

Another one that I recently started making is Sweet Potato Chips and Organic Candied Orange with Dark Chocolate. Nice crunch from the chips and of course, some sweet/salty balanced by the candied orange.
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You cannot legislate compassion into your fellow man (or woman, as the case may be), but we should at least attempt to create a society in which each individual has the opportunity to realize his or her potential. If we meet our citizens' needs for Health Care and Education, everything else will take care of itself. --Me