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How do I preserve beef chili in cans or jars?

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posted on Jan, 5 2008 @ 11:18 AM
Howdy all,

I've just about perfected my Chili Experiment (up to rev 2.0a) and am thinking about selling it at the local farmer's market either in jars or cans.

Problem is, I know next to nothing about how you "preserve" chili for storage, though I know technically it has to be possible, because that's how we end up with stuff like Wolfe Brand chili and other canned chilies.

Anyone know anything about this? Does it have to be canned, or can it be preserved in a mason jar? Does it have to be heated to a certain temperature first? Is there a preservative I have to add? Is there a danger I have to be aware of? It's a beef-based chili with various veg and spices added, if that matters. Any advice would be appreciated.

posted on Jan, 5 2008 @ 11:56 AM
I sure would like to try some of your chili as I consider myself an aficionado of fine chili and TexMex in general.

Preserving food in any manner is a tricky deal and fraught with regulations from the state and county if it is going to be sold.

Another option might be to get a severs certificate and sell the product hot to be consumed on the spot. If the customers want to preserve it; then it is their problem. I used to sell beans and rice at our local swapmeet.

My granny in Lubbock used to preserve everything from beans to maters and it kept well; however sometimes it went really bad and could poison you dead.

For a third option, sell your recipe to a big outfit and reap the residuals.

If I was going to market food, I think I would go the dehydration route.

Here's wishing you well on your project.

It's great to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well.

I just thought of another option; you could contract a large canning/preserving company to supply you with "Your" product and you could label it under your brand name. This is quite common with the salsa and beef jerky guys here in NM.

[edit on 5-1-2008 by whaaa]

posted on Jan, 5 2008 @ 01:21 PM
I've done extensive canning over the years because we had a very large garden. I mostly canned high acid stuff in a water bath canner, but once you start to work with meats or fish you need a pressure cooker to get a high enough temperature.

Working with meat is a little more difficult than pickles and you MUST use very sanitary conditions with your food, jars, lids, kitchen, etc......

Failure to follow the rules could result in death.

Here's a good link with some information for you, but please do further research so that you are very familiar with the procedure and have the right equipment before you start.

Happy cooking, it's worth the effort and can be done safely at home.
Another choice you have if you don't want to go the pressure canning method is to freeze it in portion sizes. Of course you need to keep it frozen and air tight from the time you cook it until it gets to your customer. Chili will keep well for up to a year if frozen in proper containers without any air space for freezer burn to set in. Mason jars tend to crack in the freezer, but thick freezer bags and plastic containers will do the job.

EDIT: I posted a recipe for my hot sauce a couple years ago, take a look, you might find it interesting. Almost everything came from my garden and was put in mason jars. They stored well in the dark cold cellar for up to 2 years.

[edit on 5/1/2008 by anxietydisorder]

posted on Jan, 7 2008 @ 11:54 AM
This looks like a promising approach to food preservation.

With all the doom and gloom prognostications and the survivalist mentality on the upswing; I'm also thinking of manufacturing and marketing a high protein grain/soup/gruel/just add water/lightweight/long shelf life/nutritious
meal in a sack, that can also be eaten like granola.

Sold at gunshows, survivalist conclaves, healthfood stores, by the lb. or prepackaged.

theLibra, how is the chili deal coming?

posted on Jan, 7 2008 @ 01:03 PM
Well, after doing some research into it, like Anxietydisorder said, I'll need to get a pressure canner, and it looks like I need to pressurize it at 10.5 lbs for 100min in order to ensure all the germs are dead. On the bright side, it appears that I can use jars, so long as they are the proper sort, and jars offer a more attractive package.

However, like Whaaa mentioned, there's those pesky FDA, state, county, city, etc. regulations, licenses, etc, that I'll have to pass muster on in order to sell it in stores...I think.

My plan is to sell it at the local Farmer's Markets, and possibly the local meat markets as well. Unfortunately, I have to consider now that:

For a 16oz, I probably couldn't charge more than $3, as it includes beans, and Wolf charges about $2.08 for a 15oz can. Even though I consider Wolf chili to be a step above dog vomit, I doubt I could convince a customer to pay much more than that. The fact I'm offering one additional ounce, and a glass jar and a homemade recipe is pretty much the only way most will even be able to justify spending that much.

I reckon I could probably get around a dozen 16oz jars worth out of one batch of chili, so assuming I could sell all jars in every batch, that's $36 a batch.

Now, for a dozen 16oz jars with lids, it's roughly $12.
For all the ingrediants, it probably averages out to around $8.

$16/batch profit... which isn't too bad until you consider:

  • My chili takes about 8 hours to prepare, cook, and simmer.
  • A humble 7 quart pressure cooker will cost about $50.

    Taking into effect it'd take two 110-minute loads, that's an additional 3 hours and 40 minutes, round up to 4 hours for load, unload, jarring, etc... Unless I spend another $50 for an additional cooker, or spend $200 or so for a reliable large capacity cooker.

    Best case scenario, I have made $1.60/hr, worst case I make about $1.33/hr. Let's assume I opt to spend more money at the offset, and go with a higher profit margin per hour, and to conserve space and electricity, I go for a $200 large capacity cooker.

    A business license will cost me $25 as well, and I can probably count on additional costs of around $50 for ink cartridges, labels, and gas to drive to the various local meat markets and farmer's markets.

    Without even taking food licensing fees, business taxes, food inspection services, nutritional analysis, etc, My startup cost of $275 will take 172 batches (not cans) worth of chili to just break even.

    Again, not even counting those extra costs, it would take an additional 63 batches (not cans) just to make my first $100.

    It's simply not a profitable enough enterprise to do on a small scale. I'll either have to sell the recipe, or wait until I'm rich enough to buy a factory...

  • posted on Aug, 13 2008 @ 07:29 AM
    I think you are right to do the math. But I think you are wrong on the price you can charge. There is no comparison between your gourmet chili and the canned junk. I think you'd easily get $7 or $8 / jar. Do a batch. What have you got to lose?

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