So you make this great product that everyone likes, but is your recipe something that a bottler (co-packer) can work with to re-create your unique product? For me, the answer was no at first, and I had to work on it for a few weeks to get it in a condition that they could use to replicate my sauce.
These are the biggest things that I learned and now create every recipe the same way so that my bottler can easily follow it and I get consistent results.
- Every ingredient that is not a standard unit of measure needs to be weighed. For instance, I use a lot of fresh veggies in my sauces. Saying “1 medium onion” or “5 Ghost Peppers” does not give the bottler enough accurate information to work with. The reason is that fresh vegetables are all different sizes…who is to say that one medium onion purchased at one location is exactly the same size as another? So for these types of ingredients, I weigh everything both before it gets chopped up (raw form) and after it is chopped up and ready to go into the sauce. Most bottlers can work with either ounces or grams, so either is fine. I find grams to be a little easier for weighing very light things – like fresh herbs.
- Every other type of ingredient should just list the standard unit of measure, for instance “1 TSP Ground Mustard” or “2 Cups Vinegar”.
- Provide cooking instuctions. Note that every bottler that is going to create a shelf stable sauce/condiment for you will always cook it at 180 degrees or higher since this is the temperature that kills all the bacteria in vegetables (much higher temperatures are needed for canning things that contain meat, so that is outside of my experience). 180 degress is generally what I consider a simmer when cooking at home, but it is short of boiling. So take that into consideration when cooking your sauce.
- The instuctions should also contain step for what needs to be done after the product is cooked. Is it bottled as-is, or do you run it through a blender? All the steps you go through need to be noted so they can follow it correctly.
- Note how much product your recipe makes. This can just be in total ounces. So if your typical batch makes 12 bottles of hot sauce and each is 5 ounces, then your batch size is 60 ounces. This gives them a gauge for how to scale the recipe up for larger production.
- Make your product a few times to make sure you can follow your own recipe and didn’t leave anything out. If you can’t follow it, then it will be hard for the bottler to do so and you won’t be happy with the end result.
Another general consideration is to think about your ingredients and if they can be locally sourced. Maybe you can substitute a more generally available (cheaper) ingredient that doesn’t change the flavor of your sauce and end up with a more economical product. Just to give you an example, I use Ghost Pepper in all my products. This is not grown locally and I have to purchase it from a grower in New Mexico. In this case I wasn’t able to substitute anything else becuase that was what really gave them the unique flavor that I wanted in my products. So, just be prepared that this will add to your overall costs of production – Ghost Pepper isn’t cheap, and if you have something rare in your product it won’t be cheap either.
Next we’ll talk about how to find a bottler/co-packer to produce your product.