Food Safety Issues/canning salad dressings
QUESTION: As a chef and researcher, I have a fair amount of experience with boiling water bath and pressure canning. A local organic producer would like to bottle shelf stable salad dressing as a value added product for their customers. Based on my experience and research to date, it is not recommended.
The dressings they want to produce have no dairy products in them. I have serious doubts about heating oils at 240F. What about oil free dressings? Would the latter be do-able; and if so, could you point me in the right direction to get more information on this?
ANSWER: Hi Nancy,
I assume from your question that your friend is wanting to prepare the dressing themselves in their own kitchen -- right? If so, the first thing they need to do is contact their local health regulatory agency (in the US it is the local health department but I'm not sure what your local authority is called in Canada) and inquire as to the legality of preparing the product. My feeling is they are going to say that it can not be done in their kitchen but must be done in a commercial food processing facility that contains specialized equipment. While it would be possible to set up a kitchen with this equipment it is very expensive and is not financially prudent for a very small processor.
Your friend may want to pursue having a co-packer (a company that takes your recipe and commercially processes the product for you with your label) process his dressing. There are many co-packers that specialize in processing sauces and dressings here in the US. For a listing of co-packers, please see: http://www.specialtyfoodresource.com/page/page/4205553.htm
The University of Guelph in Canada has a wonderful food entrepreneurial center designed to help small business take their product from concept to reality. Their website is: http://www.gftc.ca/research-and-development/entrepreneurial-services/
Best wishes to you and your friend. If you should have any additional questions, please let me know.
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QUESTION: I will check the co-packer listing and the University of Guelph. I neglected to mention that the producer will be renting a licensed kitchen facility (at a very reasonable price). As such, do you have any further recommendations?
Without knowing the ingredients and proportions I really can't give you much more advice. The University of Guleph should be able to answer your specific questions as to the proper method and equipment needed to can your specific dressing ingredients.
Best of luck.