Penn State to host chocolate quick course this summer season

This summer season, for the primary time in almost three many years, the division of meals science in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences will host the Penn State Chocolate Short Course, a novel providing for not solely craft and industrial chocolate producers, but additionally entrepreneurs enthusiastic about beginning up a brand new chocolate enterprise.

While it’s been fairly some time because the college hosted this explicit course, that doesn’t imply it hasn’t been working behind the scenes, researching chocolate and impacting the trade in large methods.

According to Gregory Ziegler, distinguished professor of meals science and director of graduate research within the division of meals science, Penn State’s experience within the chocolate trade is in depth.

He dates the college’s analysis in chocolate and confectionery to in regards to the Twenties and “pretty continuously since probably the early 1960s.” He mentioned early on there was lots of work on the chemistry of chocolate.

“When I started working on it — I’m a food engineer — I started doing a lot of work on the processing, the technology and the manufacturing of chocolate. More recently, my colleague in the department, Josh Lambert, has conducted work on the health benefits of cacao,” Ziegler mentioned. “My colleague and someone else that’s also involved in the course, Helene Hopfer, is a sensory scientist and we’ve focused a lot on the sensory qualities of chocolate because, in the end, it’s all about taste and texture and the sensory pleasure that people get from chocolate.”

In sensory analysis, Ziegler mentioned the purpose is to outline the attributes of chocolate which might be essential to shoppers, with the intention to enhance the standard or sensory expertise that buyers get.

“In Dr. Lambert’s work in health benefits, one of the objectives there would be to say, ‘OK, can we find ways to process cacao that would lead to the best eating quality, but also maintain the most health benefits?’ So those are the kind of things we’re looking at, at this point,” he mentioned.

The college, he additionally mentioned, boasts appreciable connections in cacao-growing areas and even grows cacao on the University Park campus.

So how does this analysis on Penn State’s campus translate to the candy treats you would possibly discover in your grocery retailer shelf? That info is “probably proprietary,” however Ziegler did say Penn State’s substantial good points in understanding have been mirrored in trade functions and, through the years, analysis has straight led to modifications within the trade.

The 2022 quick course will nonetheless — because it all the time has — give attention to the science and know-how of chocolate making, with two distinct modifications. This yr’s course will embrace info on applied sciences and gear, and the enterprise of chocolate.

There was an excellent cause for the quick course’s hiatus. “We put on the short course in the mid-’90s,” mentioned Ziegler, “but in the mid-’90s, there were only about what we call six primary bean processors — that is, people that take cocoa beans and make chocolate out of them. There had been a lot of consolidation in the industry … By the time we had basically educated those companies’ employees, there just wasn’t demand for the course.”

However, he famous that, through the years, the variety of craft chocolate producers has grown exponentially, bringing new wants for Penn State’s instructional alternatives within the discipline. The time period “craft” refers primarily to chocolate producers engaged on a small scale, Ziegler defined, processing beneath roughly a couple of hundred tons of beans per yr.

“We have, some estimate, upwards of 300 small chocolate manufacturers in the U.S. now. We felt that now was an opportune time to reintroduce the short course and refocus it, to some extent, more on craft chocolate manufacturers,” he mentioned.

The course is restricted to 30 contributors. In addition to Penn State’s specialists concerned with the course, different specialists coming in to take part embrace Alan McClure, founding father of Patric Chocolate, Greg D’Alesandre from Dandelion Chocolate and Sarah Bharath from Meridian Cacao.

While Ziegler guarantees attendees a scientific method, he additionally warns that contributors ought to be able to “get your hands dirty,” with actions together with making and tasting chocolate, and evaluating merchandise manufactured on the college. It’s the scientific method, although, that he mentioned makes Penn State stand aside because the go-to place for craft and trade producers to proceed their training.

“I think there’s a lot of ‘common wisdom’ out there that might not be so science and engineering-based. I think we bring that kind of approach to it. We don’t want to remove any of the art from what people do, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there. I think one thing we do is bring clarity to the science. We also have that depth of experience,” he mentioned.

For extra details about the Penn State Chocolate Short Course, go to

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