bottling Hot Fill and Hold Method - Does there have to be a vacuum seal?

Hi all,

I started making sauce last year and always used the boiling water bath method to process. I only grew one plant and all my batches were pretty small.

This year I have more plants (cayennes, habaneros, and reapers) and am making larger batches, 12-24+ bottles, and decided to try the hot fill and hold method to speed things up a little. I tried the hot fill and hold method on two different batches last weekend. However, a week later I checked the bottles and noticed that I don't get a vacuum seal like I would with the BWB method.

I've searched online and seen some people saying there should be a seal and others saying the hot fill and hold doesn't create a vacuum seal (which would make sense because sauce could get between the insert and plastic liner while the bottle is upside down). But I want to be sure as I'm planing to give a lot of sauce away as presents this year. So... if the caps are on tight is there a need for a vacuum seal (so long as all precautions are taken, PH level is low enough, etc)?

Details:
- I'm careful with my sanitization process: boiling the bottles until right before I fill them, cleaning the caps/drip inserts thoroughly, sterilizing all utensils
- For both batches I got the sauce to 180 degrees for more than 10 minutes, filled at 180+, and let the bottles cool upside down.
- Lips of all bottles were wiped with a clean paper towel before putting on the drip inserts and lids.
- One sauce had a PH of 3.6 and the other one was 3.3.
- I'm using 5oz woozy bottles, plastic lids with the white plastisol liners, and heat shrink bands.
 
Solution
So... if the caps are on tight is there a need for a vacuum seal (so long as all precautions are taken, PH level is low enough, etc)?

There isn't a need for a vacuum seal with the hot fill & hold method. Your process is sound and your sauce is safe.

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
The reason for the inversion is to heat treat the top headspace for any airborne nasties from production. So if you hot fill hold correctly you should be good. There should be some kind of slight vacuum naturally you may not notice. However we have an expert here who can chime in, @salsalady. I know you want to be certain for gifting!
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
I've opened noticeable and not. The inversion should take care of the headspace with heat. If you don't open it again, it should be good just make sure that inversion is fully inverted (mass-wise), as with some thick sauces, you could be leaving air space. Tap it down!
 

SmokenFire

Staff Member
Moderator
Business Member
So... if the caps are on tight is there a need for a vacuum seal (so long as all precautions are taken, PH level is low enough, etc)?

There isn't a need for a vacuum seal with the hot fill & hold method. Your process is sound and your sauce is safe.
 
Solution

salsalady

Business Member
I'm here! Still dont know how to check mentions...

The dropper insert tends to hold the cap up a bit but if hfh is done right, it will seal and as it cools, the vacuum is created. Proscess authorities have started including the instructions...fill with heated sauce and immediately cap and invert for 2 minutes... they explained it as they dont want the bottles left inverted for an expended period of time. Hour or 2 ok, but not ovetnight.

You said some was left overnight, i wouldnt worry about those, just make a note for future.

If the sauce doesnt need the orofice reducer (aka dropper top) dont bother with it. Most sauces dont really need it. Only very thin sauces really need one.

When you did a bwb, what type of jars/bottles were you using? Typical woozy with plastic caps shouldnt be immersed in water. They arent designed for it. Bwb should be small mason jars or some jars with lug lids like specialty jams use.
 

salsalady

Business Member
One more detail...fill, cap, and invert each bottle immediately one by one. Dont fill a whole bunch, then go back and cap them all. They will loose heat and you might not have 180 degree sauce when the bottle is inverted. Wont get the nasties out and wont get the vacuum that happens when the sauce cools inside the sealed bottle.

Hope it helps, have fun!!!
Salsalady
 
Thanks for all the replies!

I'll note that the bottles only need to be inverted for 2 minutes and then I can flip them - I'll do it that way from now on.

When I fill the bottles I've been doing 3 at a time to make sure the sauce is still hot when capped and inverted.

In the past I've done BWB with woozy bottles and it's actually worked well for the most part, though I did lose 2-3 bottles to caps coming off. I read elsewhere to put the bottles upright in boiling water that reaches just below the plastic cap so there's enough heat from the steam to kill any nasties. Anyhow, I won't be using that method and will continue with the hot fill and hold method moving forward!
 
Still don't know how to check mentions...
Do you mean "Alerts"
Mentions_E.jpg
SL?
 

salsalady

Business Member
Im on the tablet and dont know how to do a screen shot. The Mention showed up in list of Likes, Comments, Replies notifications. I had to scroll thru all that to find it. Sheesh....all this change is so stressfull!!!! I need a rewine.....
 
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