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I've been making a chili oil and green onion oil for my friends for months with a lot of interest in buying. I want to start selling it at farmers markets & stores but want to ensure it is properly preserved. Can anyone advise on how to do so? How can I find the expiration date?

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    Location would be helpful - local laws apply to commercial preparations, you need to read up on these and see if 1) you can do this with your set-up, many places require commercial premises for preparation of foods for sale 2)how to determine expiration dates. – bob1 May 27 at 15:19
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    And please tell us you are not simply submerging cut fresh chilies and onions in oil. In that case, you should learn about botulism ASAP. (Not criticism, just worried.) – Stephie May 27 at 15:27
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    garlic tends to be a huge problem for botulism, but onions (even green) grow in the dirt, too. related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/9451/67 ; cooking.stackexchange.com/q/15113/67 – Joe May 27 at 21:13
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    @Joe: Even things that don't grow in the dirt can be a botulism risk. Green beans, for example, are notorious for being a botulism risk when improperly home-canned, since they're not acidic enough to kill off the spores. – Michael Seifert May 28 at 13:22
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    @StephenWoodall it may sound bad, but: Good! It’s better to be aware of a risk and dealing with it appropriately than being oblivious and suffering from the consequences. The risk is small, but real, and botulism is no picknick. – Stephie May 28 at 13:58
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You don't realize it, but you've asked a hot-button question. Expect to get lots of comments about botulism, etc. This is a result of a report a few years back about folks getting botulism from homemade garlic oil. I'll keep my answer practical.

First, depending on where you live, your state, city, county, or other regional government may already have health codes for infused oils. You need to research these and follow them; regardless of the actual safety of your oils, if you don't follow the rules you could be facing a hefty fine and a court order to never sell food products again.

Second, contamination of infused oils by anaerobic bacteria (of which botulism is only one) is a real danger, so you need to treat your oils to prevent it. These methods include dehydrating the seasonings before adding them to the oil, acidifying them, or even pressing out the oils from the seasonings and using those instead of the whole seasoning.

You can also make the oil safe through pastuerization. Heating the oil (ideally dehydrated first) up to at least 121C/250F for 4 minutes or more should kill even botulism spores (the hardiest of the anaerobic bacteria). You need to make sure the water is gone from the solids before you heat the oil, which means either using dehydrated seasonings, or straining out the solids and then pasteurizing the oil. Also, depending on the type of oil you use, this pastuerization may harm its flavor; certainly unfiltered extra virgin olive oil will change flavor if heated this way.

Hope that helps, and good luck with your new business!

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