There are different Valentine's day traditions around the world: some write love poems to their beloved, other celebrate it as a friendship day. However, one of the most popular traditions is to exchange chocolates as a message of affection.
Why is chocolate associated with love? The secret lies in neurological connections of the brain. The mouthfeel, fat, sugar and cocoa, and appealing appearance are the feel-good components that trigger the feeling of happiness in us through the dopamine release in our brain. In this article, we won’t go deep into the neuroscience but, rather, discuss what it takes to produce high-quality confectionery.
…but when it comes to making chocolate fillings, process controllers demand much higher levels of confidence. This can be achieved with the latest technology, the in-line refractometers from Vaisala, which are used at various points in the process, providing continuous measurements of Total Solids (TS) or Brix (dissolved solids) for consistent product quality control.
In-line Refractive Index (RI) monitoring with automatic feedback control and alarms when measurements approach warning levels, enables process operators to ensure a consistent and reliable product, so that ongoing production complies not only with our taste buds, but also with the manufacturing regulations and product specifications.
One of Vaisala’s chocolate manufacturer customers has the slogan ‘Quality Above Everything,’ so it is hardly surprising that the company has invested in Vaisala K-PATENTS® Sanitary Refractometers to continuously monitor Brix for final quality control.
The pralines contain cherries soaked in a cherry brandy liqueur and covered in a rich, dark chocolate coating.
The chocolate maker uses Vaisala refractometers for the quality control of the liqueur; checking that production adheres closely to the recipe. Ethanol is added to the brandy to meet the correct liqueur concentration, and Brix measurements are taken immediately prior to the addition of the brandy to the cherries.
Production areas containing products with a high level of alcohol are considered as hazardous ATEX zone 2 areas. So, in addition to the monitoring device being approved for sanitary applications, it must also have an ATEX classification. In this particular example case, it was necessary for the refractometer to be intrinsically safe and compliant with the requirements of ATEX Zone 0/1. Vaisala’s solution therefore combined both 3-A and EHEDG + ATEX zone 2, 1 or 0.
Prior to the installation of the Vaisala refractometers, testing was undertaken by manually sampling for laboratory analysis. This was costly and time-consuming; incurring a delay in the provision of test results. Any deviation from specification could therefore result in the loss or wastage of product, but with the benefit of inline monitoring, issues are detected immediately so that appropriate measures can be undertaken without delay.
Cocoa powder is the most important ingredient in the preparation of chocolate sweets. It is produced by processing the cocoa beans from cacao trees, known as Theobroma cacao, in Greek "the food of the gods".
There are two types of cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder, which is brown and naturally acidic (pH 5 - 6), and dutched cocoa powder which is made from cacao beans that have been washed with an alkaline solution to neutralize their acidity. The rich chocolate color and taste qualities of dutched cocoa powder are affected by the type and concentration of the alkali, so Vaisala K-PATENTS process refractometers are employed to ensure that the process operates within tightly defined concentration limits or specifications.
You can learn more from the application note.
Sugar confections and chocolate fillings are produced by preparing a diluted mixture of the ingredients, and then concentrating the sugar content to the desired level by cooking and evaporating the water. The final Brix of the mixture determines the flavor, consistency, and overall quality of the final product. Careful monitoring is therefore necessary in order to ensure consistent, reliable product quality.
Incorrect moisture content can harm the physical characteristics of the final product; causing processing problems upstream and affecting final product quality. Excessive moisture can also cause product deterioration by promoting the growth of microorganisms.
The Vaisala K-PATENTS Sanitary Refractometer continuously measures the Brix level of the cooking solution. This provides real-time information to determine the end-point of cooking, and to ensure consistent product quality. Read more in the application note.
Robust technology and reliable measurement of Vaisala K-PATENTS process refractometer stand for unprecedented quality of the products we love. Your Valentine’s day is saved – your favorite pralines taste just as good as always!
In contrast with many other liquid concentration methods, the Vaisala K-PATENTS refractometer is not affected by particles, bubbles, crystals or color, so these instruments can be employed in a wide variety of solutions for measuring liquid concentration. Importantly, the Vaisala K-PATENTS refractometers are 3-A Sanitary Standards and EHEDG certified. In addition to the confectionery industry, Vaisala’s refractometers are commonly employed in many different food and beverage applications as well as other industries such as semiconductor, chemical and refining, pulp and paper, textiles and pharmaceutical. Discover our full offering here.
The eBook provides insights into such critical tasks of food and beverage production as food safety, cost savings, sustainability and resource efficiency and while maintaining the highest product quality. These and other important tasks can be achieved by measuring Brix in-line. Discover more by downloading the eBook.