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Canning Caramel for gift baskets


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Hi all! I just wanted to pop in here and see if anyone had some advice on canning/jarring caramel sauce for ready-to-eat consumption. The ice cream shop I work at is putting together gift baskets for valentine's day and we wanted to toss in some caramel and fudge jars in to add some tasty treats. We have a recipe that works great in the shop in our squeeze bottles for topping the ice cream, however I don't have a ton of experience with the canning process to make it shelf stable and shippable. I've canned tomato sauce and salsa in the past, but my method wouldn't be efficient for canning hundreds of jars for consumption. What is your method for success? Does it all hinge on the sealing process, and if so what are your favorite (cost efficient) products? Do you know of a jar that is self sealing or more durable than others?

Thanks for any suggestions! 

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You'd really want to check with your local dept of agriculture for protocol on canning low-acid foods to be shelf-stable, you don't want to mess with botulism.


That said, a local company swore to me that they simply pack their caramel sauce into jars while hot.  Maybe if it is above the 280F ultra-pasteurization temp and high enough sugar, it's fine? 


Since time is limited, can you do them as refrigerated products?  Then all you need is appropriate labeling with ingredients & allergens.

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This is SO outside my range of expertise but:


1. Sugar is generally a preservative. Thus many jellies and jams do not even call for water-bath processing, but simply canning hot product in hot jars with hot lids, and depending on natural cooling to seal. Would this work?


2. If not, I see no reason you couldn't fill and cap half-pint jars and process them in a water bath for 15 minutes. That should make them shelf stable.


Don't ask. Eat it.


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The general rule for being safe when doing simple canning is to be over a certain % of sugar content and below a certain pH. If one of these conditions (or both) does not apply, then things get complicated.

Besides that, each place has its own different rules.

As @pastrygirl wrote, the best thing you can do is asking to the local authorities, they are the ones with the better knowledge on what you can do and what you can't. They are not there to harass you, they are there to help you. And they are required to help you, since they are paid with your taxes.






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How many baskets are you projecting to sell?  You don't really know when your customers are going to consume the products so something already shelf-stable might be safer.  Consider asking your distributor if they have Peter's caramel blocks or something else that you can safely use while you figure out the canning issue.  This way you have no concerns about stuff that is going out the door now, but you have a plan for future holidays (Easter? Mother's Day?)


Edited to add: in some of the canning forums I am in, there's been a lot of chatter regarding the shortage of lids last fall and the  shortage of some jars so perhaps sourcing the jars at the same time you are getting data about how to do it safely is a good idea too!

Edited by JeanneCake
jar shortages (log)
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i wouldn't have a problem doing this privately for home use in a pressure canner. i honestly think it'd be pretty safe if you processed it for long enough; a lot of the rules about what's "not allowed" aren't at all because they're unsafe as much as because there hasn't been sufficient and legitimate testing done on it.  with that said, i don't think i'd take a risk on a professionally sold product without explicit approval and i'm betting (though i'd love to be wrong) that your local authorities aren't going to allow it.


i like @pastrygirl's idea about just selling it as a refrigerated product. consumers have experience with this sort of thing anyway and i don't think anyone would bat an eye, to be honest. you could also investigate cooking the caramel and adding a preservative to it. less label friendly, perhaps, but i'm skeptical it's something most people are going to care about.

Edited by jimb0 (log)
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