What is Conching?
Conching is a flavor development process which puts the chocolate
through a "kneading" action and takes its name from the shell-like
shape of the containers originally employed.
The "conches," as the machines are called, are equipped with
heavy rollers that plow back and forth through the chocolate
mass anywhere from a few hours to several days. Under regulated
speeds, these rollers can produce different degrees of agitation
and aeration in developing and modifying the chocolate flavors.
In some manufacturing setups, there is an emulsifying operation
that either takes the place of conching or else supplements
it. This operation is carried out by a machine that works like
an eggbeater to break up sugar crystals and other particles
in the chocolate mixture to give it a fine, velvety smoothness.
After the emulsifying or conching machines, the mixture goes
through a tempering interval-heating, cooling and reheating-and
then at last into molds to be formed into the shape of the complete
product. The molds take a variety of shapes and sizes, from
the popular individual-size bars available to consumers to a
ten-pound block used by confectionery manufacturers.
Ready for Shipment
When the molded chocolate reaches the cooling chamber, cooling
proceeds at a fixed rate that keeps hard-earned flavor intact.
The bars are then removed from the molds and passed along to
wrapping machines to be packed for shipment to distributors,
confectioners and others throughout the country.
For convenience, chocolate is frequently shipped in a liquid
state when intended for use by other food manufacturers. Whether
solid or liquid, it provides candy, cookie, and ice cream manufacturers
with the most popular flavor for their products.
Additionally, a portion of the United State's total chocolate
output goes into coatings, powders and flavorings that add zest
to our foods in a thousand different ways.
Inside a Chocolate Factory
In touring a chocolate factory, one is particularly impressed
by the close controls maintained throughout operations. Work
is carried out in an atmosphere of scientific exactness and
nothing is left to chance.
Precision instruments regulate temperatures, stabilize the moisture
content of the air, and control the time intervals of manufacturing
operations and other items necessary to achieve quality results.
The equipment of a factory is heavy, massive and complex. Often
representing an investment of many millions of dollars, there
are literally tons of equipment that the cocoa beans must pass
through on their way to becoming chocolate.