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I'd like to make and sell jars of my mum's satay sauce at our local food markets.

I'm trying to figure out the jarring process so it can be stored at room temperature and not make anyone sick or worse.

My experience in jarring/canning is minimal but I've done some research and would love to get some of your thoughts on my process.

I'm aware of botulism, so the ingredients of concern are fresh chillies, garlic, onions and belacan (salted shrimp paste).

These are fried with peanut oil.

There is sugar and vinegar in the mix.

There is a good amount of sugar however it's definitely not 50% like jam or anything.

The amount of vinegar is not a huge amount (should I ph test this? how and what ph would I look for?)

The rest is peanuts and dried spices.

These are the steps I'm taking at the moment:

  • Sterilize jars and lids in preheated oven @ 140c for 20 mins.
  • Fry fresh ingredients at high temp.
  • Slow cook remaining in large pot at low temp.
  • Fill jars while sauce is hot.
  • Put filled jars in preheated oven @ 140 for 30 mins with lid loosely on.
  • Remove and tighten lid.

When cooled, the lids pops down and is sealed.

The jars are from a local supplier and have confirmed with them that they can be cooked. (I've tested this process about 3 times with higher heat and the jars withstand it).

How safe is my process?

What have I done wrong, or what can I change/improve?

Should I add some kind of preservative?

I'm open to all suggestions. My goal is to have it kept safe at room temp for at least a month (more is better :) )

Currently, when I hand out test samples I ask people to keep it in the fridge and eat within a week.

Sorry about the long question but I just want to share her amazing sauce and not make people ill.

  • 3
    If you look here at "pressure canning" you'll find a lot of reading. I'm sure this exact question has been covered by one of the previous questions. – Chris H May 23 '17 at 6:36
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    Dry heat in an oven is not reliably effective. – user110084 May 23 '17 at 7:11
  • 20% alcohol (ethanol) works, but you'd likely get in trouble for selling liquor without a license. I use it for home-prepped Stevia concentrates. – Wayfaring Stranger May 26 '17 at 17:26
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Your sauce is not safe to can without some sort of preservative (and I know nothing about preservatives). When canning, anything that is "unknown" with regards to safety is generally considered to be unsafe as the risk factor is way too large.

To even begin to tell you if it might be safe you can, we would need a more-or-less exact recipe (dried spices are irrelevant however).

You cannot safely pH test a recipe at home as mixtures are not consistent, pH varies between batches, pH varies between individual jars of the same batch, pH can vary over time somewhat as the jars sit and pH equalizes within the jar itself.

The only safe way to can peanuts that I have found is via this method: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_nuts/green_pnuts.html

This uses a pressure CANNER (not a cooker, you cannot safely can in a pressure COOKER). This is exclusively for green peanuts and I do not know how they compare to whatever kind of peanuts you are using.

The chilies, garlic and onions if fresh are low acid ingredients and thus are not safe to can unless in a pressure CANNER, or in a waterbath without being properly acidified however I suspect that properly acidifying them (essentially pickling them) would drastically change the nature of your sauce. Also, due to the peanuts and shrimp paste you would not be able to safely waterbath your recipe anyways.

I think I can summarize thusly:

  • This is not safe to can in a waterbath method no mater what you do.
  • As user110084 stated in their answer, you cannot can this using an oven safely.
  • The peanuts in your sauce are a large unknown with regards to canning safety and there are no methods that I am aware of to can normal, non-green peanuts safely.
  • The shrimp paste in your recipe would mean that you probably need to account for "shellfish" being in your recipe and can accordingly however the processing time for fish is something like 110 min (for pint jars or smaller) and that would probably over-process the rest of the sauce with regards to quality.
  • The sugar content may scorch if you pressure can this sauce thus causing a quality/taste issue. It may not, but BBQ sauce used on meat sometimes can scorch in a pressure canner when canning BBQ meat so I'm extrapolating somewhat.

*I'd love to be wrong, but until I see some scientific proof then I'll just say: Please don't can the sauce. Sell it frozen or something like that.

If you want to discuss more about why it is unsafe to can, or to get a second option, there is a very SAFE and active facebook group called "Canning" full of helpful people who only advise SAFE canning methods.

  • Thanks for the detailed comment. I was wondering about all of this stuff given the on conversation on this page. I've changed your answer to the correct one. Also, rest assured, I'm currently keeping my sauce refrigerated. For room temp, I'm guessing preservatives are required. This is another area I'm weak on and will seek advice. My plan is to make this the 100% correct and safe way. – sf. May 30 '17 at 23:15
  • You may also want to look into commercial canning methods. There are a lot more "rules" in place and bigger/better/more expensive equipment but it somehow manages to can things like peanut butter and pumpkin puree safely. (I don't know much about it) – BunnyKnitter Jun 1 '17 at 16:02
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You cannot use an oven for canning - while the oven itself can reach temperatures higher than 100 degrees C, it is difficult to get the internal temperature of the contents of the jars up to the same temperature. You'd be better off pressure canning, and @Chris_H has already shown where you can read up on the technique in the comments to the question.

It might be useful to provide a quick explanation why using an oven is not reliable. Please note that I am in no way suggesting that OP's 140C is either the correct temperature or the only condition needed for safe canning.

Assuming that your contents are capable of being heated to 140C at atmospheric pressure for now, in text-book ideal conditions (assuming perfectly conductive glass), it would take 54 minutes to heat a jar of it of 10cm diameter and 10cm tall form 100C to 140C. 30 minutes is just too short.

At atmospheric pressure inside your 140C oven, your sauce will not reach too much above 100C since it is mostly made up of water. Vapourising water keeps temperature fairly constant at that, at least initially. As more and more water is evaporated, eventually, you might reach 140C, but your sauce would also be dehydrated with a very significant reduction in volume. For practical purposes, you will not see 140C for a few hours and not before your sauce is ruined. The only way to overcome that is by raising the pressure and thus the boiling point of water. This is why sterilisation needs an autoclave or at least a good pressure cooker with as high a pressure rating as possible. In any case, I have not come across a consumer type pressure cooker that would offer 3.6 bar or 52 psi to attain 140C boiling point.


edit

@rumtscho's comment below made a good point that the 140C mentioned here seemed to suggest that it was the right temperature for canning. Just to clarify, I was using OP's temperature just to illustrate the point that it would be impossible to attain that in a common oven without pressurisation. As for the need for pH control and other important conditions for safe canning, I have not attempted to address them here.

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    I don't know how you came up with the 140 C figure. Is there a source stating that this temperature is sufficient for canning anything independenlty of pH? I am skeptical, because last time I read up on canning, the official guidelines were that some items should never be prepared at home (e.g. pumpkin butter) since there is no recipe known to consistently produced the needed pH for canning in a home pressure canner. – rumtscho May 27 '17 at 10:26
  • It is OP's temperature and an illustration of not being able to attain that easily – user110084 May 27 '17 at 18:59
  • This feels kind of like a good answer to a different question ("why can't boiling water canning get to 140C?"). I'm a little worried that @sf. has accepted it - hopefully they aren't interpreting this as a suggestion that pressure canning will definitely work for this sauce. – Cascabel May 27 '17 at 23:13

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