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seventypercent or: what's in a name
November 12, 2004
12:59 am
Sebastian
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The average american consumes about 11 lbs a year. The highest average consumption in the world goes to the swiss, who consume about 22 lbs a year. I tracked what I ate for one week, then extrapolated for the year - I eat about 57 lbs a year, and I haven't had a cavity for ages 8-) Brush your teeth, eat your 25 g/ day and rest calmly in happiness that you'll be just fine - dare I say better!

December 1, 2004
10:04 am
alex_h
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btw, valrhona's best bars (and cluizel's as well) are all between 64% and 67% cocoa content. is there a reason for this? do they calculate differently?

December 2, 2004
5:21 am
Hans-Peter Rot
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Well, I guess that in order to fully maximize the chocolate's flavor and when deciding cocoa content, the type of bean and its properties must be taken into consideration. Some beans and blends might impart better flavor with an exact cocoa content of say 67% rather than rounding it up to 70%. That 3% difference might make all the difference, because as you know, flavors can be extremely subtle and can be lost if overwhelmed by bitterness or sugar. So I suppose, the seemingly low or random numbers are the perfect medium that brands have found to fully express the chocolate's natural flavor. Again, this is "flavor cacao," a battle of flavor and finesse while still trying to maintain strength of cacao; an attempt and indeed an art to balance all these characteristics without one overpowering the other. By all means, I don't mind eating 64% chocolate just as long as the flavor is just right.

March 7, 2005
4:07 am
cocoapuro
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Last November Sebastian said, "By law, there's a pretty low maximum shell content that you can have in your chocolate..."

What is the source of this information, please, and what's wrong with the shell that there would be a law preventing ingestion?
Thanks.

March 7, 2005
12:43 pm
Sebastian
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Most countries have a standard of identity for chocolate - or a legal definition of what has to be present as well as what can't be present, in order to call your product chocolate. In north america, shell is restricuted to a maximum of 1.75% on an alkali free basis. Source is the CFR (code of federal regulations) volum 21, section 163 ff. Shell is considered an impurity, and degrades the quality of the product. It's impossible to remove it 100%, so limits were set to ensure the integrity of the product. Shell can also carry along with it mycotoxins and other nasties - you want to minimize the chance that something that may have adverse health consequences will be present. Shell is also extraordinarily abrasive, and can do significant damage to processing equipment.

There's nothing wrong with ingesting shell, as long as you take the proper steps to ensure it's thoroughly cleaned. There are even some far eastern companies that are making 'whole pod' powders - something sort of akin to cocoa powder, but they grind up the pod and the shells and all. Meant to be a low cost alternative to ccp, it's certainly not of equivalent quality, and the opportunity for heavy metal and toxin poisoning are significant enough that we've consciously decided not to participate in those markets.

I'm not sure what the Aussie regs on this are...

March 8, 2005
2:47 pm
cocoapuro
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Thanks for your informative reply, Sebastian. If I were to eat the whole bean, roasted, shell intact, what would be the risks from possible mycotoxins? How would one clean it properly to reduce mycotoxin contamination prior to roasting and ingestion? What other concerns are there for eating the whole un-husked bean? Are there any laws against this?

March 8, 2005
3:29 pm
Sebastian
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If you're roasting beans at home or acquiring them from someone else who isn't an industrial processor, I'd highly recommend against it. There are no laws forbidding it (again, not sure what regs are down under), but you're significantly increasing your risk of ingesting harmful bacteria - remember that 100% of beans are harvested in what amounts to a 3rd world country, and they're fermented in open jungle environments, with jungle animals running through it and flying over it, doing - well - what jungle animals do. Home roasting isn't employing modern micro-organism reduction techniques, and there's simply no way you're going to get a good kill step in a home oven. If it's an industrially roasted bean, I'd be far more comfortable with that. Mycotoxin cleaning? take the shell off - I can't imagine you'd want to consume that anyway 8-) if you're planning on grinding it up, you may want to try a steam cleaning process to reduce the risk, but as I'd indicated previously, it's just not something that I nor my company are comfortable with, and wouldn't recommend it. It may be feasible to thoroughly clean it on a home use scale, given you're willing to spend gobs of time on it (lots of nooks and crevices in shells), but all things considered, i'd think it a risky proposition.

March 9, 2005
7:02 pm
cocoapuro
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Thank you again, Sebastian. What're we trying to kill, specifically, and what steps are required to do so? What "modern micro-organism reduction techniques" are there? I've run across some folks on the web who're eating beans raw. Is it just a matter of time? I'm in the states, by the way. For what company are you working?

March 9, 2005
10:56 pm
Sebastian
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There are lots and lots of critters on raw beans. Probably the most virulent we'd want to ensure we're knocking off are the salmonella sp., but you're going to have plenty of other coliforms, yeasts, molds, and dozens of other bacterias.

By modern micro reduction, i'm talking things such as micronizers and pressurized roasting vessels, many of which are water capable (roasting + water + pressure = autoclave, essentially). very effective at reducing micro loads.

I also know folks who eat raw hamburgers and are just fine - but ain't no way I'm gonna do that either 8) Sooner or later they're gonna bit you back. Mebbe I've just had one too many micro classes in college...

Was under the impression you were an aussie - you're not from austin, by any chance?

March 10, 2005
10:35 am
alex_h
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say, sebastian, you are referring to fermented and dried beans that could make you sick if not roasted and/or cleaned properly, right?
eating the ripe fruit from the pod wouldn't be risky, would it?

March 10, 2005
1:12 pm
Sebastian
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Exactly. However, ripe beans from the pod have a moisture content of about 60%, which makes transporting them to north america difficult (they're likely to mold during xport). Raw, unfermented dried beans would be extremely difficult to come by, I'd think, because of that. But if you're in Venezuela and happen to have a tree in your backyard, take a machete after it and go wild 8-) They're not going to taste very much like chocolate, however.

March 10, 2005
1:27 pm
cocoapuro
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I thought Salmonella was knocked off at 165°F. No?

I say I'm from the states and you guess Austin? There are a lot of towns in the states. Why'd you guess Austin?

March 10, 2005
5:18 pm
Sebastian
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Tom P. in Austin runs Kakawa, a business on whole bean chocolate - thought you might know him 8-) Word is he's from down that way...

March 10, 2005
6:40 pm
cocoapuro
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You must know everything in the world that's going on with chocolate to find an obscure nut who's making it with the bean. Heard of that alchemist guy in Oregon? By the way, what company are you with, and could you let me have a peek at your syllabus to learn more about chocolate?

March 10, 2005
6:55 pm
Sebastian
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Yes, i know john fairly well - I have huge admiration for him, and help him as much as i can w/o crossing any lines. I've given him some suggestions to try for optimizing a home made conche, and have ordered some beans from him partially out of support of what he's trying to do, and partially just because i'm curious. i avoid naming company names here as i don't want to give the impression of commercialism, but if you want to contact me privately you can do so and go that route (email through my profile - make sure you title the subject CHOCOLATE or something so i don't inadvertantly delete it - i get lots of spam in that mail box). Happy to talk to you about chocolate, but do need to recognize that there are limits to what i can and can't share, and that this forum probably isn't the best place to do so (the moderators are killers when it comes to staying on topic ;-) )

March 10, 2005
7:01 pm
cocoapuro
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Sebastian, I'm afraid there is no contact info on your profile. Am I missing something, or is there another way I can contact you?

March 10, 2005
9:51 pm
Sebastian
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that's odd, it used to be there, and the profile information for me show's it as in the database. dunno - email at scottdj AT excite DOT com (replace capital letters with appropriate signs - no sense making it easy on the email harvesters).

March 11, 2005
9:52 am
alex_h
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coco, if you go to a member's profile you'll find a link ('email user: click to send an email') in the upper left to send him/her a private email.
boy, sebastian, you are chock full of info!

March 11, 2005
11:39 am
Sebastian
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my wife tells me i'm full of it all the time too, although she probably means something else ;-)

March 11, 2005
12:33 pm
Martin Christy
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Sebastian, I never had a reply back from you about pictures - maybe I also got lost in your inbox?

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com

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