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Bottling Juice - what bottles to use?
Wed 27-Aug-14
12:55 pm
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mauramac
Kent

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Hi everyone

As some of you may know I am a huge fan of my brilliant fruit & veg steamer and make all the juice for my jellies with it. It is that time of year when I am inundated with offers of unwanted fruit - especially apples and my 4 freezers are now completely full soooooo......

I was thinking of trying to bottle some of the juice for later on in the year but have never tried it before.

I have several concerns (no really confused) well it wouldn't be me if I wasn't worrying about something now would it.

Firstly I have a large collection of screw cap bottles that previously contained cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Would these be ok to use? Will the screw cap provide enough of a seal do you think?

Secondly will washing them in Bicarb of soda to get rid of smell and taste of vinegar be enough to be able to use them for apple juice etc. I can put them through the dishwasher on high but I'm uncertain if this will wash them thoroughly enough due to the narrow neck shape of the bottles.

Lastly - how long do you think it will be safe to keep the juice for? If it won't last for at least 6 months then it won't be worth the effort.

I should add that the steamer will heat the juice up to sterilisation temperature so it can be drained straight into the bottles from the steamer.

Any thoughts much appreciated wave

Maura

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Wed 27-Aug-14
1:13 pm
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brightspark
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Hello Maura - I haven't made juice for bottling, so I think it'll probably need quite a bit of research. Not sure if Hannah may be able to help given the industry she was in.

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Wed 27-Aug-14
3:07 pm
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mauramac
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Yes I agree - research is what I need. Had a quick look on Google and this article mentions boiling the bottles afterwards for about half an hour at 77c without their lids on to pasteurise the juice. I have a really large tall stockpot I could use for this but I'm sure I've read somewhere you have to make sure bottles are not sitting directly on bottom of pan and suggested a tea towel to sit them on.

I know they use a water bath system in US & some other countries and I tried it with apple sauce last year but I threw it away as the sauce didn't keep it's colour and turned brown eeekso I'm guessing that didn't work.

I don't want the apple juice to go off but I guess it has to be preserved in some way and just syphoning it off into a bottle and then boiling it doesn't sound quite right to me.

I'll keep looking runaway

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Wed 27-Aug-14
8:10 pm
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Xahha
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You can hot fill your juices at boiling point and fill in to clean bottles- this will allow the hot juice to kill off any yeasts or moulds in the bottle with acid juices and if you let the bottles get cold naturally, then this also helps to kill of the organisms- and yes you could hot water bath them as well to get to pastuerisation temperature in the centre of the bottle. The hot fill method relies on the fact that the juice is acidic in some way as this also helps to inhibit any growth of moulds and yeasts. 

I would not personally re-use screw caps- they usually have a seal in them that gets compressed the first time, which means they will not make a proper seal the next time. So new caps would be the way to go.

You may be OK with the dishwasher method of cleaning- in practice the bottles would be inverted over a fine tube which would jet water in to them.

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Thu 28-Aug-14
10:56 am
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mauramac
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Thanks Hannah - I was hoping you might be able to advise me. The bottles I have saved previously had the metal cap which broke the seal once you turned it so I'm not sure if I can get hold of new caps to fit them but I will look into this now. I'm guessing plastic caps would be better than metal ones?

Can I assume then that if I direct the boiling hot apple juice from the steamer into the bottle that I don't need to add any lemon juice or preservative?

Is boiling the bottles in a large pan of water necessary - does it help to prolong the life of the apple juice?

Sorry to ask so many questions but I am really keen to get this right.

Thanks again

Maura smile

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Thu 28-Aug-14
11:27 am
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Xahha
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I think with apple juice, you might benefit from a hot bath afterwards, but preservative or lemon juice would help. It is all to do with the pH. If it is below 4, then you just need light pastuerisation, above 4 then you need to sterilse the filled bottles. I will ask one of my ex colleagues what they did when they bottled apple juice for a local charity and see what they did to preserve the juice and its shelf-life. I won't have an immediate answer as I am out for a few days, and they need also to reply to me. You could also look online for some information.

Yes screw caps in plastic would be OK if you can get them. If you have to re-use the old caps then it won't be a disaster, but it would be best to get new ones if possible. The alternative would be to fill in to bottles that can take crown caps (the ones you usually see on beer bottles) because you can hand apply those using a simple tool available from wine and beer making supplies shops.

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Thu 28-Aug-14
2:10 pm
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mauramac
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Thanks Hannah that's really kind of you. I can get the plastic caps from the same place I buy my jam jars - they are really helpful as well.

I have a jam thermometer which I rarely use but not one for taking the temperature of the juice once it has had a hot bath. I'll see if I can get one. I could add lemon juice but don't know how to work out the quantities so this could now be getting a wee bit too complicated. I have tried reading up on all this but the websites I found (Government guideline one included) were either too scientific and complex or very vague and tended to be for wine or cider makers.

Will wait till I hear back from you and your colleagues - thanks again ok

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Tue 2-Sep-14
10:50 am
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Xahha
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Maura,

I have had a reply to my mail requesting processing info,

Basically it is quite simple, press your apples to get the juice, fine filter through muslin or something like that to remove any pulp and fine bits. My contact did say that the finer the filter the better as you might get a sediment in the bottles after some time of standing once they are processed..

He recommended adding Ascorbic acid at 0.5 g per litre of juice to prevent browning (that is common practice) and he did not hot fill them, all done at room temperature.

Once the bottles are filled, then you can pastuerise them in a hot water in a large pan. He said you need to get the liquid that is in the bottle up to 70 degrees centigrade and keep them there for 20 minutes at that temperature.

To do this we used to add an extra bottle filled with water without a cap on it and measure the temperature in that bottle, so you don't waste any of your juice. You need to measure from halfway down the bottle, in the centre of the liquid.

After that you can cool down the bottles to room temperature. Again we used to slowly add cold water to the pan to prevent the glass getting a thermal shock and breaking by being cooled to quickly. then gradually increase the water flow until all is cool.

So it looks a pretty simple process.

I hope that helps.

Hannah

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Tue 2-Sep-14
7:35 pm
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mauramac
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Thanks Hannah - thats really detailed and as you say not too difficult. I guess I get the ascorbic acid from the chemist? Plus I'll need to find a thermometer long enough to reach half way down the bottle - I'll check out Amazon.

I don't press my apples - I steam them to extract the juice using a proper fruit steamer. That won't matter will it? I rarely get any sediment doing it that way and if I'm really careful I can syphon the juice straight into the bottles....maybe not as I'll have to add the ascorbic acid first. Maybe I'll drain the juice into a glass jug and then add the acid and then bottle it. I'm sure I'll manage to get it right after I have a play around and find the best way to avoid any spoilage.

Thanks so much for the info - I feel brave enough to give it a go now ok

I'll let you know how it goes.

Maura

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Tue 2-Sep-14
8:10 pm
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Xahha
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Yes you can get ascorbic acid from Beer and Wine making suppliers-Wilkinsons would probably sell it, or any other homebrew shop. It is basically Vitamin C, but sold as Ascorbic acid. They will probably have the right thermometer as well.

I forgot you steamed the juice- is it cool when it comes out, or still hot?

If it is hot, then you will have a head start on the pastuerisation step as you don't need to wait so long for the juice to warm up, you just need to make sure it gets to 70 degrees C and stays at that temperature for 20 mins in the bottle and it is job done.

You might get away with just 15 minutes, but it would be safer to stick at 20 minutes.

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