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I'm researching in doing a hot sauce company. its been a constant struggle for me to find some answers so Ill go ahead and pitch them here

  1. Assuming that I use a good amount of vinegar and sugar for my hot sauces, what other ingredients can I use so that I do not need to refrigerate? I.e. corn, ginger, figs, or things not at high acidity blended in
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    You probably would be well-served by consulting with a contract food manufacturer, which will have several food scientists on staff that can help provide accurate answers to food safety questions based on a proposed recipe. They can generally help you adjust your recipe to the desired degree of shelf-stability. – JasonTrue Oct 29 '15 at 20:10
  • Are you aiming for no need to refrigerate until, or after opening? Unrefrigerated sugar tends to get moldy once it gets any chance at contamination... Even worse, it is nowadays assumed that some molds create ph-raising byproducts that might make your vinegar inefficient at preventing a botulism risk. And I guess any of the addins you mention will horribly spoil if not thoroughly pickled by brine/acid, guaranteeing maximum particle size to ensure such pickling probably becomes very important... – rackandboneman Oct 29 '15 at 20:23
  • Hello Max, we have a strict one question - many answers format here. Normally, I would have advised you to ask your three questions separately. But in your case, questions 2 and 3 are off topic here, and if you ask them, they will be closed. So I removed them from the question body. – rumtscho Oct 30 '15 at 11:17
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Food safety doesn't work that way. It is impossible to predict the safety of a finished product from the ingredients. There are a few exceptions when the ratio of preservatives is known, but they are basically a variation of a known recipe, and then it doesn't matter much what the last ingredient is. For example, if you make a jam with 1:1 sugar/fruit ratio and without pectin addition, it's known that it will be shelf stable, no matter which fruit you choose. For a random hot sauce, it does not work at all.

Whatever recipe you develop, the final product has to be tested whether it's shelf stable. If you have solid knowledge in food technology, you can do some good guesses at what to try and what not to try. This is however impossible to learn by asking one question online. You could

  • just try recipes at random and have them tested
  • learn about food technology yourself (note that it's a standard B. Sc. university major, not something you can pick up from a random tutorial). This will lead to fewer bad guesses before you make a recipe which passes the test
  • hire a food technologist to do the development for you

In all three cases, it will be expensive. The testing process itself is likely to be legally regulated. As you are having other legal concerns, it is probably best to consult a source on legal advice, they will probably be able to tell you what are the requirements to get your sauce tested, beside telling you whether you're allowed to sell it at all.

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