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I am starting a business making a vegan chocolate spread. It is beginning as a small, family run operation, in a hired industrial kitchen.

We are stuck on how to 'treat' the spread when getting to the canning process (in glass jars) so that it will be as shelf stable as possible.

So far, our research has pointed us toward simmering the sealed jars in boiling water for 10-15 mins. (the jars are also sterilized beforehand).

Would this be sufficient? Does this suck the oxygen out? How do large manufacturers approach this process for similar products?

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  • Can you share the list of ingredients for the chocolate spread? Chocolate by itself is shelf-stable for months at 10-18C. What else in there is perishable?
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 3 '21 at 6:32
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    You should start by taking a food safety certification course. You don't say where you're located but it's required by law where I live if you want to sell canned food products like this.
    – Dan C
    Mar 31 '21 at 17:09
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If you're working with something acidic like a jam, you can indeed process the jars in hot water. This is sufficient to kill any pathogens that got sealed in with the product and can thrive in an acidic, high-sugar environment like jam. Since the water bath also seals the jar, nothing can enter the sealed jars, the jam is now shelf-stable. In your case, the spread is unlikely to be acidic enough that water bath canning is sufficient to preserve it.

You should look into pressure canning instead. You would need a pressure cooker for this, which will let you process the jars at a higher temperature than a water bath allows. There's also some concern around the fat in your spread (I assume it's based on something like coconut oil?). Fat can interfere with the seal and prevent the jars from sealing properly, and it can also go rancid even if the jars sealed correctly.

You would need to reach out to the food safety agency in your country to see what requirements they have on similar products, and likely have a food safety lab test your sealed product to determine that it's safe for as long as whatever your best-before date says.

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    @Nanna There's also the problem of whether the spread is sterile - enough heat and sugar (or lowering water activity to a suitable point somehow) will get around this, but if the product can't be heated extensively then it likely won't be shelf stable. I have some commercially produced vegan chocolate spread (nut free, can't remember brand) at home and it is in a glass jar and very viscous, if that is any help.
    – bob1
    Mar 1 '21 at 20:00
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    So in conclusion, none of your recommended methods would work?
    – Gigili
    Mar 2 '21 at 11:01
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    Thank you for all of your feedback. We’re actually not using oil, but we are using coconut cream/coconut milk - pretty much the only truly perishable thing in our ingredients (others include powdered supplements, vanilla essence, dark choc, cocoa powder etc). So at this point I would say it’s mostly making the coconut milk/cream last as long as possible. The thing we’re most concerned with is any of the processes (boiling sealed jars in water, pressure cooking) will ‘cook’ our spread and change its makeup and taste Mar 2 '21 at 11:14

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