The sterilization of canned food is a preservation technique that consists of subjecting food to high temperatures for a certain time to destroy the possible microorganisms that inhabit it, both pathogens (those that can cause disease to humans) and non-pathogens.
The purpose of sterilization of food packed in hermetic containers is the destruction of all bacteria, including their spores without significantly altering the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of the original product, making the food safer for consumption and at the same time extending its useful life.
Types of autoclaves for canning
Domestic or home canning
We can make preserves at home using a bain-marie, but for later consumption to be safe, it is advisable to follow a series of steps rigorously.
Glass jars are the most appropriate container for making home preserves, they must be previously washed in the dishwasher at high temperature, dried completely and filled with cooked food while still hot, to avoid thermal shock, and leaving a small free space, to allow adequate expansion of the product during sterilization. Then, without leaving bubbles and without dirtying the rim of the jars, they should be closed and placed in a pot with enough water to cover them and bring them to boiling for a minimum of 10 minutes, depending on the specific product used. It is advisable to use a rack to avoid contact of the jars with the bottom. After the boiling time, it is advisable to wait about 5 or 10 minutes to remove them from the pot and they should be allowed to cool to room temperature maintaining their vertical position for 8 to 12 hours and they will be ready for consumption at home.
There is also a wide variety of large-capacity household sterilizers or electric pots on the market, from 1 to 20 liters, with various functions and multiple accessories. With these equipments you will be able to prepare homemade preserves by manually programming the time and temperature.
Automatic autoclaves for canning
If what you want, on the other hand, to make preserves in a traditional way to be able to market them, you should use a professional automatic autoclave for canning.
Professional food autoclaves or canned sterilizers are hermetic equipment created to sterilize food packed in glass, metal or semi-rigid jars by subjecting them to high pressure and at temperatures above 100ºC for a certain time.
To guarantee maximum food safety, small artisan canned producers must have an autoclave to comply with current regulations on health and hygiene.
Industrial autoclaves for canning
For large productions, there are autoclaves for food and ready meals adapted for industrial processes. Of modular constructions and adaptable to the volume and capacity of each production, industrial autoclaves are very large and work by means of a mixture of steam, water and air. They can be programmed according to the required process and can reach 140ºC.
Autoclaves for canning for small artisan producers
Dedicating yourself to canning in a professional way means giving up certain habits typical of manual work. Preparing a preserve to be sold to third parties requires rigor.
Gone is the cumbersome task of boiling the containers to be used, at least for 15 minutes, and their subsequent drying. We must also forget about cooking the jars in a pot (face up or face down) filled, closed and covered with water. Always waiting and with crossed fingers so that every pot has been properly vacuum sealed.
When we turn canning into our business, we can no longer afford all this, we cannot trust luck or skill that our jars are in perfect conditions. Clearly, it would be fatal for our company if our products were not in optimal condition. Quality and food safety must be a priority.
Get professional, get a canned sterilizer
Whether you are a small producer or a micro-company dedicated to the preparation of preserves and prepackaged dishes, your task already requires a certain professionalization. That is why, in any self-respecting workshop, it is essential to have a canning sterilizer to comply with current regulations on food safety and hygiene.
Currently on the market there are many different canned sterilizer models. It is crucial that when choosing one or the other you take into account:
- Space you have to locate the equipment
- Production level you plan to carry out
- Guarantee and after-sales service that they offer you when you purchase it
- Manufacturer technical support
- Advice and training to use the equipment
- Accessible and affordable accessories, accessories and spare parts
- Option to modify or include custom accessories
Why should I buy a canned sterilizer?
Buying a sterilizer will never be an expense. On the contrary, it is an investment, both in the short, medium and long term. And it is because it supposes:
- Huge time savings. We must not forget that time is money. The sterilizer facilitates the task of sterilizing the containers in large volumes, as well as their subsequent preservation. This means less dedication and, therefore, more time for other tasks.
- Perfect preservation of the products. Thanks to its high temperatures, the sterilizer inactivates all bacteria, spores and other microorganisms, guaranteeing that the food will last longer, preserving the organoleptic properties and minimizing possible changes in the nutritional characteristics of the packaged product.
- Versatility. These types of devices offer different sizes depending on their capacity, although regardless, many allow different types of containers and different sizes to be sterilized.
Requirements for an approved canned sterilizer for artisanal production
Not all canned sterilizers are suitable for artisanal production, it is very important that it is approved to guarantee compliance with food legislation and ensure the quality of your canned food and packaged food. That is why we recommend that you purchase an autoclave, we advise you to take into account the following characteristics when purchasing your canned sterilizer:
- It must be manufactured according to European standards and guidelines.
- It must incorporate a temperature probe that allows calculating the sterilization or pasteurization values (Fo and Po) applied to a product sample, in order to correctly control the entire process and to be able to professionalize our production process.
- Include back pressure and rapid cooling, to avoid possible deformation of the containers and minimize overcooking of our product.
- Be optimal to operate in all types of containers such as cans, glass jars, semi-rigid trays or pouches. And also for all kinds of packaged or preserved foods.
- Have a technical service that can help you when you need it and can offer you maintenance. An autoclave is like a car, it wears out with use, and therefore, over the years, periodic maintenance tasks must be carried out.
- Have a reputable and specialized manufacturer behind. Continuing with the example of cars, a Chinese car is not the same as a European manufacturer, in terms of quality and especially durability.
- Have the appropriate security measures, such as a safety valve and thermostat, a door locking system and open door alarm, pressure and water level detectors, thermal protection around the lid and protective chassis of the sterilization chamber.
TERRA Food-Tech® canned sterilizer
TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves are designed for cooking, sterilization and pasteurization of all types of food packaged in cans, glass, pouches and semi-rigid. They are the product of the evolution of the RAYPA brand, with more than 40 years of experience in the manufacture of sterilization equipment. They are compact autoclaves developed to meet the demand of small producers of gourmet canned food and to facilitate development tests and quality control in the food industry.
Technical characteristics of TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves
- Compact top-loading / vertical or horizontal / bench-top loading autoclaves with capacities from 21 to 175 liters.
- They respect the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of the final product.
- They guarantee compliance with the legislation on Safety and Hygiene for canned packaged foods.
- Suitable for all types of packaging: cans, glass jars, semi-rigid trays, bags or pouches. You can see the different types of autoclavable containers on our Blog.
- Very simple installation, it is only necessary to have 1 water inlet, 1 drain and 1 electrical connection.
- Easy to use and program, with a color touch screen and the capacity to store up to 50 programs, to save the default values for the elaboration of up to 50 different products.
- Rapid cooling technology by means of a water shower.
- Programmable back pressure and refrigeration to avoid breakage or deformation of containers.
- Safety measures: safety valve and thermostat, door lock system and open door alarm, pressure and water level detectors, thermal protection around the lid and protective chassis of the sterilization chamber.
- Multiple accessories for all types of projects: basket lifting crane, customizable stainless steel trays and baskets, perforation kit for lids and semi-rigid containers …
In addition, the purchase of a TERRA Food-Tech® autoclave includes a food advice service and professional accompaniment, we provide you with free technical and food advice during the first 3 months. Likewise, to facilitate the estimation of the viability and performance of your project, at TERRA Food-Tech® we offer a free online calculator to calculate the productive capacity per cycle, that is, the number of containers that can be sterilized depending on the type of container and the autoclave model.
If you are a small artisan producer or a micro-entrepreneur who wants to make your own gourmet preserves and prepackaged dishes, do not hesitate to contact our sales team for more information or to find out the autoclave that best suits your business, we will be happy to help you.