Ferbane chocolatier makes early start to beat the sun

Story by Olga Aughey

Thursday, 5th July, 2018 4:35pm

Ferbane chocolatier makes early start to beat the sun

Karina Gaetani of Ballyshiel Artisan Foods WEB.jpg

A Ferbane artisan chocolate producer is having to work through the night and finish early to ensure they meet their orders because of the hot weather.

Temperatures hit 32 degrees last week and are due to do so again this weekend. Karina Gaetani and husband Tommy Corrigan who operate Ballyshiel Artisan Foods are having to work around the weather to ensure they meet demand for their chocolate and toffee products.

Skelligs Chocolates in Kerry had to cease operations for three days last week because it was too hot to work with the chocolate, but Karina says they are doing everything in their power to fill their orders.

"It's a struggle to work with chocolate in this heat but we now start at 6.30 in the morning and finish early around 4 to fill our orders," she tells the Offaly Independent this week.


You will recognise the Ballysheil products which are on sale around various locations in Offaly, including the Tullamore Dew Visitors Centre and Lough Boora Discovery Park.

"We are very busy this time of year so we've had to continue production. We are a small family-run operation since 1998 and there's just two of us," continues Karina who is originally from Argentina.

"It can be very difficult to temper the chocolate in this type of weather, it's too hot. The truffle gets all messy. That is why we are starting so early and finishing early because it gets too hot after 4 o'clock.

"With the toffee I don't have so much of a problem so we watch the weather forecast and decide what we are going to do the next day, we work around the weather."

Karina first started making dulce de leche, which is a type of toffee caramel square with Irish toffee, and then from there started making her own handmade chocolates. She now produces macaroon bars, Easter eggs, and chocolate sauces for ice cream and a range of luxurious chocolates which are on sale Mayo, Clare, Galway and all over Ireland.

"Really the answer is air conditioning," laughs Karina. "But it's a different thing when you have this really hot weather all the time," says Karina who has been living in Ireland for the last 22 years.

"Like the farmers I suppose we are praying for rain. Families love to see the sun but when it's too hot it's not good either, so I can sympathise with the farmers."

Karina hails originally from west of Buenas Aires and is more used to temperatures reaching 38 degrees and higher during the summertime.

"We get a lot of summer storms with the temperatures go too high high but it's winter there now so completely the opposite of Ireland.

"And it is different when it's very hot here in Ireland. You have more hours of sunshine here. The sun shines from about 4 or 5am until very late at night, whereas back in Argentina it gets dark at 7 in the evening," she ends.

And being from a hot country she has some advice for the sun-seeking Irish.

"My advice would be to enjoy the hot weather in the shade! Find a breeze and stay cool."

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