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the perishability of ganache centers
November 3, 2005
8:39 pm
lilacaroline
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I am curious to know the exact perishability of cream based ganache centers enrobed in couverture chocolate. I have heard many differing opinions on this matter. Some people say two weeks and some say up to three months (if the chocolate is sealed/ enrobed properly.) I was hoping to understand more about the shelf life of artisian chocolate. What are the optimal storage conditions for artisan chocolate? Are there any “organic” solutions for increasing the shelf life of artisian chocolate? I have read about potassium sorbate? Thanks !

November 3, 2005
9:24 pm
Sebastian
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The short answer is that there is no short answer 8) The shelf life can vary wildly depending on how it’s made and how it’s stored. Generally speaking, I would be very hestitant to eat a cream ganache that has been at room temperature for 2 weeks. That said, I’ve seen ganache last much longer than that. There is no ‘exact’ answer to be given. Preservatives such as potassium sorbate, of course, will extend the shelf life – but again, there is no exact answer as to how long due to the variability in ingredients, environments, techniques, and distribution/storage.

General rule of thumb i live by – fresher is better. There are exceptions to that, but i can’t think of any for ganache..

November 3, 2005
11:47 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Alcohol will also extend shelf life, so chocolatiers who offer several alcohol pieces imo are probably aiming for a longer shelf life. With many artisan chocolatiers, the ganaches you receive are fairly young, which in other words, means that the chocolates are fresh and haven’t been languishing on the shelves for eternity. Once you receive any chocolates from any chocolatier, though, it is best advised to consume within two weeks for optimum flavor yield. Like Sebastian said, I myself wouldn’t eat a ganache that’s over two weeks old, because after all, this is cream without perservatives. A lot of times, the advice you hear comes from the chocolatiers themselves, and so the information will vary accordingly, but if one gives a shelf life of over a month, then steer clear.

Some tips when buying chocolate: observe the conditions in which they are stored. Is it humid, cold, warm, damp, musty, dry? Ask how fresh they are and about the ingredients used. These aren’t nosy inquiries but are issues of extreme importance. After all, if you buy a piece of chocolate for up to $4, then you have every right to demand these answers.

November 4, 2005
1:04 pm
chocolatero
london
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Shelf life is driven by
1) how clean the ganache is to start with (initial bacterial count)
2. the amount of free water (i.e. not bound) that will help bacteria growth
the later is influenced by ingredients composition, way of making the ganache, and storage. the result could be 2-3 days shelf life up to 6 -8 weeks without preservatives
there are various ways to increase shelf life

1) work cleanly and emusify well
2) optimal composition
3)Make centre under vaccuum to suck out air pockets that bacteria like
4)industrially sometimes people pump in a gas that replace the oxygen in the mix, without oxygen bacteria can not grow
5) helps such as alcohol, sorbitol, potassium sorbate etc
Chocolatero

December 7, 2005
3:22 pm
execsearch
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Low pH by using soured cream or equivalent can help. Certain fermented dairy products have “natural” additional antimicrobials which can help with shelf life. Depends on where you are as to what is permitted. Similarly alcohol in excess of 2% w/w will do wonders. Dont go for sorbate. Only works well below pH 5.5. above that its pretty disgusting as an aftertaste. Even below this pH its perceptible if used at high levels
Some excellent spice mixes can help to avoid oxidiative rancidity, but lipase is always a problem which results in a soapy cheesy even sometimes goaty taste. This is not usually due to the bugs at dangerously high levels, just the residual enzymes which work better if you dont store them in the fridge

December 7, 2005
4:43 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Think about walking into a bakery where the loaves of fresh bread are only edible for a couple days. You want to consume these quickly while they’re at their prime. Otherwise, you’re better off going to the grocery store and settling for that loaf of Wonder Bread that has a shelf life of three weeks. So you have a choice: excellent quality, enjoyed maximally within a short time frame. Or, poor quality, “enjoyed” minimally within a long time frame.

December 8, 2005
10:16 am
execsearch
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I am a traditionalist at heart and appreciate that you often cant beat fresh anything, however you have to compare apples with apples.

“Long-life” bread, “instant” coffee etc, still have the words bread and coffee in their description, but these are undeniably compeltely different categories of product.

However if you can enjoy a good loaf after 3 days instead of having to ditch it after 2 days, so long as this does not detract from the positive charecter of the bread, why not be creative?
Simply by using some of the skills of a traditional preservation method e.g. sour dough fermentation, even if complemented with some modern food science principles (including food grade chemicals) can be inspiringly creative.

Top Belgian chocolatiers have used soured cream for grenache for some time, but I think no-one should be critizing them for it. Apart from the labeling issues in some countries, how much of a crime would it be for them to standardize the pH of the grenache with creme fraiche by adding some food grade lactic acid or for an even better taste profile succinic acid?

Such approaches enable a wider geographic reach for the top chocolate makers. More people having access to superlative chocolate for longer can’t be a bad thing.

January 13, 2006
5:03 am
patsikes
Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
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I am investigating the use of invertase, a naturaly occuring enzyme, as a way to extend shelf life.

I personally put a 4 week shelf life on my ganache centers, however when trying to sell to some retail locations, shelf life has been an issue for the retailer.

It is hard to get your supperior product into a store when the owner currently uses someone like Sweat Shop out of Texas that has a 3 month shelf life on thier ganache centers….

Patrick Sikes
P.S. I Love You Fine Chocolates
http://www.psiloveyouchocolates.com

Patrick Sikes www.MyChocolateJournal.com
January 13, 2006
10:31 am
execsearch
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invertase works by converting one molecule of sucrose into 2 other smaller molecules of glucose and fructose. The same result can be achieved by formulating with these instead of sucrose or by using other humectants like glycerol or even alcohol. It works because there are more molecules of solute in the same amount of water resulting in a lower water activity.
At a lower water activity, many of the spoilage microflora can not grow (but it is not necessarily cidal i.e. some are still alive, they are just dormant).
Nonetheless the sweetness intensity of the resulting mix is often higher than that of the original sucrose.

Lowering the water activity as a stand alone preservation strategy can work but you will need to have it arouund 0.6-0.7 in the grenache if the pH is relatively neutral. For a filling which spoils quickely already it probably has a relatively low sugar content. Hence this approach if used in isolation will probably take a significantly higher free sugar content (&/or conversion from sucrose) which will also alter the taste profile.
I am surprised that invertase is cost effective. What do you estimate the application cost per/kilo of grenache to be?

January 17, 2006
5:23 pm
patsikes
Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
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My research has shown that it will only take a 1/4 teaspoon for a genache made of 1 pound of chocolate.

I bought a 4oz bottle through Lorann for $7.50. So that is about 96 doses per bottle or $.08 per dose.

I have not tried this all yet, I will be doing production next weekend and will make up some molds of invertase laden genache to do some comparisons. Our raspberry genache is our most volitile so I will start there.

I also bought some of this stuff from Lorann’s that I though I would play with also. http://www.lorannoils.com/Prod…..2D+NATURAL

Patrick Sikes
P.S. I Love You Fine Chocolates
http://www.psiloveyouchocolates.com

Patrick Sikes www.MyChocolateJournal.com
January 31, 2006
3:08 pm
execsearch
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“PRESERVE-IT – ANTIOXIDANT – NATURAL
General Use Guide: Use 1 3/4 teaspoons to each 5 pounds of butter or oil (or other fat) in your recipe. You can add Preserve-It Antioxidant at any convenient mixing step. Heat does not affect the antioxidant properties.”

Pat
The link you showed leads to the above. It is an antioxidant which in your context normally only protects against excessive incorporation of oxygen or from the impact of oxidized (old) ingredients.
It will help extend the shelf life if this is limited by certain types of off-flavours developing due to oxidation. It could be a catalaze if it is enzyme based, although this wouldnt be too effective against some types of oxidation problems.
Better options would include high potency natural antioxidant oregano or rosemary extracts along with some good old vit C & vitE (for those with a technology bent these latter 2 are also called ascorbic acid and tocopherols).

Invertase may help reduce problems of starch retrogradation which results in solublized starches (often used as thickeners) “precipitating” to give a grainy texture.

Both will have virtually no effect on microbial spoilage if used alone at concentrations primarily chosen to inhibit oxidation and retrogradation.

February 1, 2006
4:37 pm
patsikes
Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
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OK…so neither Invertase or the other antioxidant is going to help?

I did end up using the invertase in a small batch two weeks ago and then checked the progress before our production run we did on Sunday. The test batch looked good so I went with invertase in our full production.

It will be interesting to see what things look like in on Mar 1st when we will spoil out our unsold products.

As to the other options you suggest, would a dose of oregano or Rosemary affect the flavor, or is there a natural version that has the “flavor” stripped away?

Patrick Sikes
P.S. I Love You Fine Chocolates
http://www.psiloveyouchocolates.com

Patrick Sikes www.MyChocolateJournal.com
February 1, 2006
5:36 pm
execsearch
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Various antioxidant “deodorized” rosemary & oregano extracts on the market. The highest potency ones cost a little more but have virtually no carry through of flavour. Some are formulated in emulsions to disperse them more easily throughout a product matrix.

They need to leave a little perceptable aroma in them just to justify the “herb/spice extract” claim which can in some markets be declared as “natural flavouring” . While this can be an issue in e.g. in some light tasting dairy products, in most foods it is not even a perceptable off-taste or aroma.

Especially in a quality chocolate/grenache background it would take a real “nez” to be able to pick up the difference in a triangle test.
Depending on the carrier and the concentration they are normally used at 50-500ppm
Joe

February 1, 2006
5:45 pm
execsearch
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Pat,
As Mrs Beeton famously said for one of her recipies…..”first catch a rabbit”.

To extend your shelf life IF you have a microbial issue, you first need to identify what type of bugs are causing the problem. Depending on what the origin of the problem is, the fixes are very different.
e.g. Cocoa powder, especially if not santized, is frequently a source of bacterial spores.
No amount of handwashing and GMP will reduce this load in a Ganache which has not been heat treated. However a 72C flash for 30s will destroy most of the gram negative spoilage flora.

Joe

February 2, 2006
12:35 am
pnorrgren
London, United Kingdom
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hello all,
I have seen some low sugar products that do not have any preservatives included and are based on Maltitol rather than Glucose/Sorbitol. Still giving up to six month shelf live. They seem to use dried cream rather than fresh cream, thus avoiding the high water content of the cream and no butter. Has any one tried this type of ganash?
regards
Per Norrgren.

February 2, 2006
11:04 am
execsearch
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Because sorbitol / glucose mixtures have approx a 60% relative sweetness intensity compared to Sucrose they need to be used at about 1.7x the sucrose application rate. But as both the molecules are smaller than sucrose, when used at this level they have a bigger impact on water activity (and hence on microbial spoilage) but at the same time produce the same sweetness intensity as sucrose.
The disadvantage is that in some situations such blends can lead to maillard browning under conditions which are less harsh than those needed to cause browning with sucrose. http://www.danisco.com/cms/res…..gar_en.pdf

However pure maltitol (as opposed to maltitol syrups which often include a low amount of sorbitol anyway), is only 90% RSI. Therefore in practical terms it needs to be used at approx. the same application rate as sucrose. As it also has virtually the same molecular weight as sucrose, it has about the same impact on water activity as would be obtained with using sucrose itself.
Thus the advantage for preservation is minimal, but while more costly, substitution is benificial for its impact on dental hygeine (as opposed to inhibiting bugs in the product).

A blend of creme fraiche and anhydrous butter fat (butter contains about 20% water) together with a maltitol/glycerol blend could be even better as it has a higher impact on Aw plus drops the pH and can bring in some nice (natural!!!!!!!!) fermented notes too.

February 2, 2006
4:07 pm
Sebastian
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pnorrgren – it all depends on what else is in there. it could be that the center material is a fat based center, using crystalline maltitol and cream powder to bulk, and in those instances, you’ll never, ever have spoilage issues as there’s just no water present. If it’s a liquid maltitol center, that’s a different thing all together, and stability issues become much more involved as execsearch notes. my gut feel tells me it’s the former rather than the latter, given i can’t imagine anyone using cream powder in a water based ganache (though stranger things have happened) – i think the logistics and processing involved would be much more difficult than just using the real stuff to begin with. Either way, I think a lot of marketing effort would have to go into creating the perception of it being a very premium product; that said, you can make very nice meltaway centers that are entirely fat based.