When it comes to the enchanting world of chocolate making, there are countless processes and procedures that transform the humble cocoa bean into the scrumptious treat we adore.
One such process, crucial yet often overlooked, is ‘winnowing’.
This stage of chocolate production, while not as well-known as tempering or moulding, is equally significant in the journey from bean to bar.
Winnowing may not sound glamorous, but it’s the process that brings us closer to the chocolate’s heart, allowing us to unlock the full potential of the cocoa bean.
It’s during winnowing that we discard what we don’t need and retain what will ultimately become the chocolate we savour.
What Is Chocolate Winnowing?
Chocolate winnowing is a crucial step in the chocolate-making process that involves separating the valuable cocoa nibs from their less useful outer shell, or husk.
This stage occurs after the cocoa beans have been carefully roasted, enhancing their flavour and making the shells brittle and easier to remove.
The process starts by cracking the roasted beans into smaller pieces known as ‘cocoa kibbles’.
This mishmash of cocoa nibs and shells is then subjected to a ‘winnowing’ process.
The term ‘winnowing’ comes from an old agricultural technique used to separate grain from chaff using wind or flowing water.
In the context of chocolate-making, the winnowing process uses a combination of sieving and airflow to separate the lighter shells from the heavier nibs.
As the shells are lighter, they get carried away by the air stream, while the nibs, being denser, fall into a separate container.
The resulting nibs are then ready to be ground down into cocoa liquor, the base from which all chocolate is made.
Without winnowing, we would not be able to achieve the smooth, rich chocolate that we all know and love.
It’s a critical step in turning cocoa beans into delectable Whitakers Chocolates, and while it might not be the most glamorous stage of chocolate production, it’s certainly one of the most important.
Why is Chocolate Winnowing Important During Production?
The process of chocolate winnowing may seem like a small step in the grand scheme of chocolate production, but in reality, it plays a monumental role in creating the quality chocolates that we enjoy.
Firstly, winnowing is essential in achieving the smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture that is a hallmark of quality chocolate, like those produced by Whitakers Chocolates.
The husks of cocoa beans are hard, brittle, and inedible, and if left in, they would interrupt the smooth consistency of the chocolate, leaving it gritty and unpleasant.
Secondly, the process of winnowing also helps to ensure a more concentrated, robust chocolate flavour.
The cocoa nibs are the true powerhouse of the chocolate flavour, while the husks do not contribute any desirable taste.
By removing the husks, we’re left with only the pure, unadulterated cocoa nibs, ready to be ground into cocoa liquor and transformed into delicious chocolate.
Finally, winnowing is important for achieving precise and consistent proportions in chocolate-making.
The cocoa nibs are what’s needed to determine the percentage of cocoa in the final product, and removing the husks allows chocolatiers to measure and control these percentages accurately.
Without this crucial step in the process, our favourite chocolates would not be the same.
So, while winnowing may not be a widely known part of chocolate production, its impact on the final product is certainly significant.
What is a Chocolate Winnowing Machine?
A chocolate winnowing machine is a specialised piece of equipment used in the process of chocolate making.
It serves a very important purpose – to separate the valuable cocoa nibs from their outer shell or husk after roasting.
Essentially, this machine is designed to crack the roasted cocoa beans into smaller fragments, known as ‘cocoa kibbles’.
These kibbles are a mixture of cocoa nibs and shells.
The winnowing machine then uses a combination of sieving and airflow to distinguish between these two components.
Due to the weight difference, the lighter shells are whisked away by the airflow while the heavier cocoa nibs fall into a separate collection area.
The result is a pile of clean cocoa nibs, free from husks and ready to be further processed into chocolate.
Winnowing machines come in different sizes, from small-scale machines for home or craft chocolate making, to large industrial machines for commercial chocolate production.
Regardless of the size, the principle of operation remains the same.
A good winnowing machine is a crucial tool for any serious chocolatier.
It not only makes the process of separating nibs from shells quicker and more efficient, but it also helps to ensure the consistency of the final product, leading to a smoother and better-tasting chocolate.
Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier
From our more than 130 years of chocolate-making experience at Whitakers Chocolates, we understand that every step in the chocolate production process is crucial to creating a perfect end product.
Among these steps, winnowing holds a particular significance that often goes unnoticed.
Yet, it’s an art in itself, one that we’ve honed over generations of chocolate crafting.
Winnowing is the unsung hero of chocolate production.
The process of separating the precious cocoa nibs from their shell may sound simple, but it’s a meticulous process requiring skill, precision and the right equipment.
The quality of winnowing can dramatically influence the texture and flavour profile of the final chocolate product.
We believe that the secret to winnowing lies in the delicate balance of gentle force and precise control.
The cocoa beans need to be cracked just enough to separate the nibs from the shells, but not so much that the nibs are crushed or damaged.
That’s why our chocolate winnowing machines are calibrated to strike this perfect balance.
The reward of successful winnowing is a collection of pure, clean cocoa nibs that are ready to be ground into rich, aromatic cocoa liquor, which forms the base for all our chocolate creations.
It’s the starting point of a beautiful transformation, turning the bitter cocoa nib into a delightful piece of Whitakers Chocolate.
Our commitment to perfecting each step of the chocolate-making process, including winnowing, is what sets Whitakers Chocolates apart.
We believe that great chocolate is the result of meticulous attention to detail, respect for the cocoa bean, and a deep understanding of the art and science of chocolate making.
And winnowing, while only one part of this process, plays a pivotal role in the magic that we create.
So next time you savour a piece of Whitakers Chocolate, remember the journey it’s been on, starting from a humble cocoa bean, through the careful process of winnowing, and finally transformed into the delicious treat in your hand.
Final Notes On Chocolate Winnowing
The art of chocolate winnowing, while often unheralded, is integral to the creation of the luxurious, smooth chocolate that we all cherish.
This process, the meticulous separation of the cocoa nibs from their shells, is crucial in setting the stage for the magic of chocolate-making to take place.
By ensuring that only the pure, flavourful nibs continue on the journey to becoming chocolate, winnowing contributes not only to the rich, robust flavour profile of the final product, but also its silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
It’s a testament to the importance of each stage in chocolate production – even those that might seem small or insignificant can have a profound effect on the end result.