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ChocolateRaw Chocolate

What Is A Stone Grinder?

By 01/01/2014December 23rd, 2021No Comments


If you recall, we addressed the consistency of commercially produced chocolate a while back, but I think we can re-address some points here while we talk about the Melanger.

Commercially produced chocolate is made using a conching machine which is basically a big stainless steel machine which grinds the chocolate at a consistently low/medium heat for a long period of time.

The better the chocolate company, the longer they conch their chocolate as it creates a super smooth consistency.

Some of the best chocolate companies in the world conch their chocolate for up to 120 hours.  And it’s worth every minute, as the chocolate is silky smooth, creamy and rich in flavour.

As chocolate is ground over a long period of time, the flavour molecules increase and the textural microns decrease in size — which basically translates as, when you grind chocolate over a longer period of time, the flavour gets better and better because the molecules break down more and more and release more of their subtle flavours. When chocolate is ground over a long period of time it also breaks down the structure of the microns, meaning they become so small that they settle right into the microscopic holes in your tongue, known more commonly as taste buds.

When you taste a chocolate and it’s “gritty” that’s because the microns have not been processed long enough to allow them to sink into your tongue, they are still too big. This is what happens when you use a Vita Mix or the double boiler to make chocolate. It’s no big deal, but it’s good to know reasons.

The purpose of this information is not to promote a Melanger or to insist that you buy one, it’s simply to explain what they are, how they work and why they produce a higher quality chocolate.

A melanger is the same as a conching machine, just in a much smaller capacity and generally the grinding element is made of stone as opposed to stainless steel. Conching machines can hold up to 1 tonne of chocolate – that’s a lot of chocolate, folks! A home based melanger would hold between 3k-5k of chocolate, but does the same job as a commercial conching machine.

Over approx. 20 hours (based on using a coconut sugar sweetened chocolate) a Melanger will create super smooth, delicious raw chocolate. The machine keeps the temperature at or under 42c (I have tested this over it’s running time) and, by the time it’s finished, you have a smooth, viscous product which more closely resembles cooked chocolate.

Viscosity refers to the thickness of chocolate (or any liquid substance). As the chocolate is ground, longer and longer, it has a higher viscosity level, which means it thickens up. If you have made chocolate in a Vita Mix or double boiler, you will know what I mean when I say the resulting chocolate is thin… you have to bring the temperature down in order to use the chocolate for enrobing/dipping, this should not be the case, but because you are not using a stone grinder (and consequently are not creating smaller molecules) the chocolate remains thin and so you must work with it differently than you would ground chocolate.

I have been using the Premier Tilting Stone Grinder (pictured above) for the past 2 years or so to make select batches of chocolate and have found it to be invaluable. As far as using nibs goes, I have not liked the result, but have not focused my efforts on creating a bean to bar product.

My friend Pablo, over at Forever Cacao, uses the same grinder to produce both his bean to bar and cacao mass based bars. His raw chocolate bars are the very best on the market.

If you’d like to look into buying a Premier Tilting Grinder, you can click here for the UK supplier. Or sometime you can get it on Amazon.

Of course, there are a few other companies who distribute melangers throughout the USA and the UK, but this is the one I have experience with and, therefor, the only one I can speak about or recommend.

Intrigued ? Want to make your own stone ground chocolate, nut butters and coconut manna ? Click here (and scroll to the bottom of the page) to view the details of my online course Home Ground!