School Culinary Engineering Project Help
ChefTalk.com Top Picks
For the home cook, I don't think that this item would be popular.
However, for a pastry chef, something like that (aka a "fire cooker) would come in handy for caramel--something that needs continious stirring for over 2 hours.
My ideal unit would be:
Constructed of glass filled nylon--no extruded or molded plastic. Die cast aluminum oxidizes and is brittle, s/s steel is quite expensive. Bear in mind this device will be exposed to high heat and high humidity (99-100%rH) when being used
Motor: Don't want one! I have a kitchen aid mixer that provides me with enough power and then some. Why not connect a flexible shaft from the kitchen aid mixer's attachment hub to the device?
Failing that, how about a wind up motor with a heavy fly wheel? I'm serious. Most electrical appliances have wimpy cheap motors, and we don't want any battery powered devices--they belong in the toy stores. A wind up motor is dead simple, can provide the torque needed, is silent, and won't crap out due to cheap copper winding the Chinese are so famous for. It also doesn't need any NSA or UL approval, voltage transformers or switches.
Stirring paddles: They will need to be replaced frequently. Plastic will melt (caramel is cooked to +/-110 celcius). Aluminum will oxidize and stain liquids if it is abraded with another metal. How about a eco-friendly, biodegradable, easily obtainable, and cheap material? Wood. Beech or maple. Face it the stirring paddles will wear out, discolour, absorb odours and stains, and fatigue at the stress points where they attach to the shaft. Make the paddles out of wood and make them cheap and easy to replace.
Above all, remember this: A hobbyist has the tools s/he wants, a professional has the tools s/he needs. A pro will pay for a quality device, a hobbyist won't, unless it is heavily advertised and endorsed by TV personalities.
Good luck with your project
Thermomixers are nothing new. I've seen them demo'ed in the late 80's in Frankfurt for making hollandaise. They're great for making ganaches and sauces, but lousy for caramel and fruit butters.
See, to make a caramel, you need a big pot--once any milk product comes to a boil (including clarifying butter) it will rise up and spill over if the pot isn't big enough.
Seems like Nicko posted products that already exist. Look around the internet, amazon etc, and read the reviews. Seems like the problem to solve is design a better one. One that withstands the heat, is adjustable enough to handle a variety of pots/ pans, doesn't stain or melt, doesn't weigh a ton, doesn't take up a huge amount of drawer or counter space, is stable in the pot/ pan, and doesn't break the bank. From a commercial standpoint, it would need to be a workhorse; be durable over the long haul.
I would also agree that it should be able to use existing paddles in ones kitchen, and maybe one that specifically reaches into the corners of the pan, like flexible silicone. It would also be neat, considering what foodpump says about needing/ using it for caramel, for it to have a thermometer. Also, my small cordless drill's motor does pretty well going through wood at slow speed. I'm sure it would have plenty of torque to stir.