How to Start Your Own Salsa Business - Chapter 5

When we ended chapter 4, we were talking about jars where the safety button didn't pop, in other words the jar didn't seal properly. This is a problem even if you are just making salsa for your own consumption. Unsealed jars can allow contaminants to enter the jar and infect your salsa.

You will need to determine why a jar or jars have not sealed properly. A few of the more common reasons are: there was something on the finish (or very top of the jar) that prevented the cap from sealing to the jar. Maybe some salsa spilled onto the finish while filling the jar. Another problem could be there wasn't enough head space in the jar after filling. Head space is the area between the cap and the top of the salsa, in technical terms, the head space needs to be at least 6% of the total volume of the jar. In a typical 16 ounce salsa jar, the head space should be about a half inch. If there isn't sufficient head space, the necessary vacuum will not be created to pull the cap down and seal the jar. It is better to under fill your jars than to over fill them. A third reason for unsealed jars is that the salsa wasn't hot enough when it was packed into the jars. Your salsa should be above 200 degrees when packing. When the salsa cools, it will create a vacuum and seal the jar. Another very important reason to pack your salsa at 200 degrees or higher is that it will kill the vegetative cells in your salsa that can create unwanted toxins like C Bot. A fourth reason for unsealed jars is a defective cap. You should visually inspect all of your jars and caps to make sure there are no defects. Check the plastisol lining in the caps, check the finish on the jars, if you see a defect, toss it.

One of your responsibilities is maintaining the required records. Records of PH tests for every batch and records of visually inspecting every jar after production. The final disposition of the salsa in a defective jar must also be recorded. The required record keeping gives the FDA inspectors what is known as "one up and one down" This means that the FDA inspector will be able to determine where all of the ingredients in a specific jar came from, and, when the jar went when it left your possession. One up and one down is part of the chain the helps determine where a food born illness originated.

In chapter 6, we will discuss producing salsa that is commercially sterile.

 Experience " Salsa Perfection"