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Producing and Canning my Salsa - Advice Needed from the Professionals !

canning bottling

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#1 Cristianrojo



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Posted 15 June 2017 - 12:39 PM

Hello Hot Pepper enthusiast,


I've been making homemade batches of salsa that people love for about 6 months now and I'm trying to  get myself into this new adventure of creating my salsa business.

i would like to star producing and canning my recipes but I'm so lost a the moment trying to figure it out all the paperwork, permits and of curse $$ needed and such BUT the most important is that i have no idea of any company in California that could make the industrial version of my recipe, nutritional values, process and can my salsa so here I am seeking some advice and tips from the experts and hoping that one day i could share proudly my accomplishment and help other fellow Hot Pepper Enthusiast,


Thank you all in advance and every little info and piece of advice is greatly appeciated.


- Cris 

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#2 SmokenFire


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Posted 15 June 2017 - 02:48 PM

Hi Cris & welcome to THP!!  :)


Congrats on your dreams of a salsa business. We have a resident salsa maker extraordinaire (Salsa Lady) who will contribute to this thread I'm sure, but IRRC her salsa is fresh/refrigerated instead of canned, and your salsa recipe is canned is that correct?


IF that's the case then you will need to find co-packers in Cali that will make your salsa to your recipe.  THP member Lucky Dog Hot Sauces resides in CA and uses a co-packer and can help shed some light on the number of hoops required to do business in Cali (there are many, but it can be done!).  


Prior to the co-packer though I'd advise getting your paper straight first thing:  Business plan, business license, business insurance, etc.  These basic steps help you chart out the vision and growth of your business and also protect you should anything become an issue. 


When that stuff is handled you'll contact the co-packer of your choice (talk with at least 3 to get a better idea of pricing/minimum batches/warehousing) and then make arrangements to have the salsa made.  Prior to that you should have picked out containers and labels for your salsa as the copacker will need them (though some can help with that too).  I'm sure there are several steps I'm forgetting, but I wanted this to be an introduction kind of post.  :)


Remember there are some complicated issues you'll have to slog through to get your business off the ground but the basic premise is simple:  Make salsa and sell it.


Good luck!!! 

It felt like satan pissed in my mouth it was so hot and lasted a long time. It was a horrible experience eating one of them. - SavinaRed
I would love to travel to your castle to roam the land,eat pie and hunt woman. - sicman

#3 Cristianrojo



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Posted 15 June 2017 - 04:30 PM

Hello Smokin' Hot


Thanks a lot for the reply and the information!


Yes you're correct... My salsas are cooked and need to be canned.

I'm currently working on the packaging, logo and labels. I have size references of containers i would like to use and also i'm in the process of filling paperwork with the state of California.

It's a process due to a lot of regulations but i would love  to make my salsas on small batches since are a little bit more crafted/artisan style and sell them in festivals, farmers markets and online to start. 

Still a ways to go but it's very cool that are people out there like you who can guide us and share their experiences.


Thank you again.

- Cris

#4 salsalady


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Posted 22 June 2017 - 09:44 PM

hi Cris!  :welcome: to THP!
I just saw this post, thankfully SmokenFire got you headed in the right direction.
There are different directions you can go with how/where/who does the processing.  This may be a little disjointed, but I'll try to share what we decided and why.
When I started making and selling salsa...(as my son would say...back in the Dark Ages of 1994....:lol:  )...I was making a canned (BWB) salsa.  At the time, it was a real PITA to get testing done and no resources to find info about food processing or food testing.  The one place I knew of to do food testing like pH, process reviews, shelf life, etc, was the food science department at WSU.  Their customer service was HORRIBLE, like taking 4-6 months for a pH test and process review.  Regs at the time said that if a product had a pull date of 30 days or less, it was considered a 'fresh' product and wasn't subject to all the shelf stable, shelf life, canned product regs.  So that's what I went with- fresh refrigerated.
For your venture-
first and foremost...MAKE SURE people other than friends and family like the salsa.  When Scott Zalkind of Lucky Dog Hot Sauce was developing his hot sauces, he would take unlabeled bottles to parties/bbqs/etc and set them out on the table and then hang around and listen to people's comments.  Great way to get honest feedback as friends and family may not give you honest feedback not wanting to hurt your feelings.
Another way is to offer 'free' samples to people on here in return for feedback.  I say 'free' because you cannot sell your sauce until legally licensed, but most of us here have no problem posting back a few bucks to cover shipping/ jars etc.  Getting feedback from people around here will give you some very good feedback.  Someone recently posted a thread about what questions to put in a sauce questionnaire.  It should be pretty easy to find~
Anyway, when you are SURE you have the perfect recipe,  the next steps are to send a sample to a food lab for a process review and also get in contact with the (Dept of Ag??? I think???) or whoever does local food processing licensing in Cali.  It is usually NOT your local health department that does restaurants.
What the food lab says for a process will set out how the salsa can be made.  Your sauce may be OK with a boiling water bath, or it may require pressure canning.  Either way, you can do both of those processes yourself if you have a facility that will work.  Lots of posts about where to look for commercial kitchens to use on a part time basis.
Any type of canning will require you to be Better Process Control School certified.  BPCS is just another step, and it costs about $500 and a week of your life, but once you are certified, you can do your own processing.  You do not have to use a co-packer. 
Last thing on your list should be printing labels, etc.  Go ahead and work on label concepts, logos, etc, but do NOT print anything until you are completely licensed and all your ingredients and your label set up is approved by your licensing person.  If you mess up on font size, or listing of ingredients, you will have to pitch the whole lot of labels. 
I'd encourage you to just make some home-printed labels for the first few batches just to make sure everything is working with your recipes etc.   
 then consider what and how you want the production done.  You can produce it yourself in small batches or use a co-packer.
This is definitely not all-inclusive (business licensing, insurance.....more, more more....) but a basics to get you started.  Your local licensing authority should be able to guide you through the first steps. 
And finally....the FDA......
do not start jumping through FDA hoops unless your process authority (lab) or your health inspector require it!  Some recipes require FDA licensing to be made and sold anytime/anywhere.  If you sell ANYTHING across state lines, internet sales and such, you have to be FDA registered.  Some sauces that contain critical ingredients like meat or dairy (lots of BBQ sauces contain butter) then you have to be FDA registered. 
If your sauce is low risk, and you are only selling within your state (no internet sales), then you probably do not have to deal with FDA registration.  Again, rely on your inspector and the food lab for guidance. 
Hope this helps and Best of Luck on your fun adventure!  Hundreds have done what you are setting out to do.  It can be done, you can be successful.  Just do it right from the start, have an awesome product, have fun and Love It!

Edited by salsalady, 22 June 2017 - 10:12 PM.

The Chile Addict's prayer-"Lord, grant me the wisdom to know it will be too hot, the courage to eat it anyway, and the serenity to accept the pain that follows. Amen"

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