Everyone says we make a great chili and I was thinking about selling it at Chili festivals etc... and was wondering does anyone have any ideas of what preservatives would make the shelf life stretch out, keep the color bright and not build a fungus?

I would prefer to use natural preservatives and not change the taste of our recipe very much. Any help in this would be greatly appreciated.

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    Wait - are you talking about keeping it refrigerated for longer (which almost certainly won't work) or about canning it? If you are canning, what process are you using? – rumtscho Jan 13 '13 at 20:22
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    Before you even consider using preservatives, have you even researched things like the health codes for commercial kitchens, and the licenses you need to produce and sell cooked food products? You would have to comply in every jurisdiction.... – SAJ14SAJ Jan 13 '13 at 20:22
  • We own a restaurant so we have the kitchen covered, we were wanting to can it in Mason Jars, kind of a country chili marketing. – Tim Jan 13 '13 at 20:36
  • I would like to do it to where it does nto have to be fridge kept until they open the jar. – Tim Jan 13 '13 at 20:37
  • I paid $4.00 at a country store for local chili seasoning in a rustic packet. Nice Texas souvenir and easier carry-on than a mason jar. – Pat Sommer Jan 14 '13 at 17:19

The only way that I know to put up chili for storage other than freezing is pressure canning.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a recipe for pressure canning, in which they process it for 75 minutes (which doesn't include the ramp up & pressure release times), so you're looking at close to 2 hrs per batch, when you include the time to set all of the cans in the pot, remove 'em, etc.

I've never tried it, so I have no idea what pressure canning ends up doing to the texture and flavor of the chili. I also don't do pressure canning, so I have no idea what all of the issues are (eg, if acid levels are as significant as with normal canning) and thus how much you can vary a recipe without risking problems.

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  • I wonder if that still applies if all your ingredients in the chili are already set with the proper preservatives??? Like if you used on Bush’s Chili Beans etc…. I wonder.... Do they pressure can the chili in the supermarkets? – Tim Jan 13 '13 at 20:59
  • At least in the US, in most jurisdictions, it would be illegal to sell home-canned goods. – SAJ14SAJ Jan 13 '13 at 21:20
  • Pressure canning can produce a safe product in shorter time than normal canning, and the equipment is pretty common in industry. I would think that many of the supermarket conserves are pressure-canned, even for food types which would work with normal canning. – rumtscho Jan 13 '13 at 21:21
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    @SAJ14SAJ : he gave a comment that he has a restaurant, so it's not home canning, although it's possible that there might be laws in his area that make a distinction between production for on site consumption vs. production for distribution. In my area, license normal restaurants the same as food production facilities; the only exception is fast food restaurants (where they'd not allowed to cool & reheat anything, it has to be discarded within 4 hrs of cooking) – Joe Jan 13 '13 at 21:29

Pressure canning is probably the best way to raise the durability of food without the need to add any preservatives and without the need of maintaining a specific temperature to the goods (as it applies to freezing). As most microorganisms are killed by temperature after the can is sealed nothing can go back in there until the lid is opened again. In the industry if it contains water and is durable outside the fridge and does not contain any (artificial) preservatives it is most likely pressure canned.

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If you have access to a commercial chamber vacuum sealer you could look into retort canning. This process is the same as the military MRE packages and the same thing they use to package those bags of tuna on the shelves of the supermarket.

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