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cooking How to preserve chilli sauce without cooking it.

After trawling through the site, I don't think this question has been asked before, but apologies in advance if it has!
Ive been developing a fresh chilli sauce, the main base is canned artichoke with roasted red pepper, chilli, spices, olive oil, white spiced vinegar & sugar. I do not cook the sauce, just blitz the ingredients together and bottle (using a bottle sterilised in the oven). The sauce lasts approx 4 weeks unopened and approx 4 weeks opened in the fridge.
 
So how can I extend the shelf life of the sauce without cooking/ hot filling, pressure canning or hot water bath? Its a fresh chunky relish style sauce, really tasty as a dip, cold sauce or to marinate chicken and fish. If I cook it or add heat to it, the taste and texture will change. Do I have to accept its a 4 - 8 week refridgerated sauce, or is there another way of preserving it?
 
After reading the making sauce 101, I now have to look at the PH level of the sauce and will most probably have to increase the acid via more vinegar, salt, lemon juice or sugar. Will this alone extend the shelf life or do I still need to look at another process before / during bottling?
 
I would love to get your views.
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
Especially with oil, which is a breeding ground for botulism. Anaerobic environment. I say especially but really that's not true, even w/o the oil, keep in fridge.
 
It's not that big a deal, most people keep stuff like this in fridge anyway!!!!
 
Canned artichokes are cooked, right? Maybe you should start with raw artichokes, cook your entire batch of sauce, and end at roughly the same place? That seems to be the ingredient you're most concerned with?
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
chakalaka said:
Not ideal if I want to eventually sell it, not all retailers have or will give you fridge space!
 
You should worry about that when it comes time to go pro. Many recipes have to be altered or your processing plant will tell you how to make stable. Tabasco is not cooked but it does not contain oil or chunky vegs.
 
Genetikx said:
Canned artichokes are cooked, right? Maybe you should start with raw artichokes, cook your entire batch of sauce, and end at roughly the same place? That seems to be the ingredient you're most concerned with?
From the research Ive done, it looks like the problem is that the artichoke is an alkaline product and it equates to 50% of the ingredients, the vinegar only equates to around 30%, so I need to change the ratio of ingredients to be more acidic than alkaline; then I can add a little extra lemon juice or rice vinegar to bring the overall PH down to below 4 to prolong the shelf life.
 
Im starting the experimenting next week with different amounts of lemon juice and rice vinegar to see what happens ;)
 
 
 

salsalady

Business Member
And there are....obviously...tons of refrigerated items, incuding some salsas here in the US that have 6 month shelf lives/expiry dates.

Start out with it refrigerated. If it works and you start selling and get to the point where you may need a copacker or large processing plant, then work with some pros. There are people with college degrees in food processing.


Start small, get it dialed in, then grow from there.

I make and sell a refrigerated fresh salsa with a 30 day pull date. We have gone back and forth many many times about whether to step up production and distribution, and it always comes down to a couple things. If it was to go bigger itvwould have to have a longer shelf life and that would require changing the recipe. Something I am not willing to do.

So it stays a small in-house operation, I sell out every batch and could sell more if I had time to make more. It is profitable, and I am happy with the where it is at.

As you get your product out there, you may find that you really dont like all the steps involved in your salsa endeavor, or it may become your life's passion.

Take it one step at a time, enjoy it, and if it is not fun and profitable, move on.


Best of luck!
SL
 
Thanks for all the feedback and information, here is some info on the experiments so far:
adding 8 tbsp of lemon juice lowered the PH from 3.78 - 3.35 without affecting the taste;
however the colour changed from a vibrant orange/yellow to a pale yellow  :(
Rice vinegar had no affect, probably because the base vinegar used is white spiced vinegar which is very strong.
Ive also discovered that the length of time I blend the ingredients together impacts on the PH, the longer I blend the lower the PH - because the vinegar and lemon is penetrating deeper into the ingredients. 
However the more I blend the more I lose the key feature of the sauce - thick and chunky! If I blend to the normal time for the right consistency, the PH is too high. 
its a complicated process, but I will continue on my journey of experimenting  :)
 
We've spoken to a food scientist at our local authority, she said that a shelf ready sauce for commercial sales should be PH 3.5 or below (3.35 to be safe) and cooked for 5 min at 70 degrees C then it will have a shelf life of approx 2 years.
 
 
 

salsalady

Business Member
Re- blending and pH testing-
 
If you have chunks of food in a vinegar/lemon juice liquid, it will take a while for the acid to penetrate the vegetable matter.  Think about cucumber spears in vinegar brine.  It takes 2 weeks for the cukes to become "pickles". 
 
For one of my sauces, the process authority said to do the pH test 24 hours after the sauce was made to allow all the ingredients to come to an equilibrium.  Again, your food scientist would be have the final say on this...but you can make the sauce at the desired chunky consistency, then take a small bit out and blender the snot out of it (I'm thinking maybe 1/2 a cup in a small jar and use an immersion stick blender).  This will allow you to check pH right away and get an idea of what the finished equilibrium pH of the chunky sauce would be. 
 
Have you considered powdered ascorbic acid?  Ascorbic acid is Vitamin C, and using it in powdered form may be the ticket.  Available lots of places online and over here, it's available in most grocery stores in the canning section as "FruitFresh".  A powder that is mixed with water to dunk fruits like apples in to keep them from turning brown.  It's mostly ascorbic acid, but I think FruitFresh has other anti-caking stuff in there.  Easy enough to get and experiment with while looking for pure ascorbic acid.   
 
Keep at it!  :)
SL
 
 
 
I find this VERY interesting as others here cook for waaaaay longer and at much higher temps.  These high temps do NOT work for me as I get an oily separation from the sauce which I find visually disturbing.  I detailed it here.
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/69958-various-degrees-of-separation/?hl=oily#entry1588450
 
chakalaka said:
We've spoken to a food scientist at our local authority, she said that a shelf ready sauce for commercial sales should be PH 3.5 or below (3.35 to be safe) and cooked for 5 min at 70 degrees C then it will have a shelf life of approx 2 years.
 
 
 
 
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