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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Shelf life natural oils

Any concerns with shelf life in a product made with macerated ingredients such as citrus or coconut? Without chill filtering you leave more of the natural oils in the product and it tastes great. Can the oils impact the long term shelf life? It would be in a 70 proof product.


Reply:

My guess is that it varies with how much oil is not in solution. If you have a pretty serious oil ring in the bottle, that oil will oxidize over time... it's just a matter of how long you expect it to be on the shelf. Colas is still taking forever and a day from what I am hearing, so you might want to set up tests of varying amounts of residual oil in your finished product to see if anything changes against a control during the time that it takes colas to come in. I'm guessing you'd prefer that your product won't be on the shelf much longer than 6 months after bottling.

You should probably be more worried about protein haze, precipitate, and other visual defects if you're putting out a macerated product, IMHO. These can mainfest in days or weeks after bottling and are a big put off to potential buyers.

From my experience running infusion programs at bars, you'll definitely want to make sure that you're filtering out solids from the ingredients that you macerate with. Macerations left on the solids for too long develop oxidized, sherry-like notes that aren't super desirable in a fruit liqueur by most folks' reckoning. Not so bad in a fortified wine though .


Reply:

Thanks for the response. We currently have an infusion based spiced rum that we filter down as low as .22 micron. No sediment problems over time in that one, but it isn't oily.

We were considering heating it to 105 degrees or so for a couple of months to see what happens. I want to make sure that it doesn't develop any off flavors over time. If a bottle ends up sitting on a shelf in a small store's back room for a few years I'd still prefer it to taste good when opened.


Reply:

It would depend but I've been making a limoncello for the last four years through cold maceration at an even lower proof and I've never had any problems as long as it was stored in a bottle with an airtight lid. Of course, my limoncello does have a higher sugar content which acts as preservative to some degree. I have a four year old bottle at home and I can only notice a slight flavor difference which could easily be dependent on the quality of the lemons used in the batch. Oils will oxidize so I would suggest bottling in a bottle with an airtight seal (bale top) and simply putting "reseal for freshness" on the label as a reminder for the user to reseal the bottle. The airtight seal will also ensure very little, if any, change in the flavor profile due to oxidization over time sitting on a shelf.

If you can put it through a .22 micron filter you'll actually catch most (if any) of the bacteria present that could pose a problem if they were capable of surviving in an alcohol rich environment. Heating it up to 105 would be good but you ideally want to do 145, this will kill of most kinds of bacteria but depending on the composition of your product this may not be ideal as it could affect the flavor at that temperature.


Reply:

Thanks Sam. That's good info.

We seal all of our bottles with a shrink wrap over a synthetic t-top. They are pretty air tight.

I wasn't too clear about the heating. I was looking to do accelerated aging tests on a couple of bottles by heating them to 105 for a few months, not for production use. I just got a quote back on a desktop testing unit and it came in over $7000. I don't think we will be doing that test after all! We'll just put it in the trunk of a black car for a few months. In Florida that should provide plenty of heat to test accelerated aging.


Reply:

I have a similar problem with oils coagulating in the mix. I mascerate - don't distill. My challange is "how to remove the coagulated materials?" I was considering placing a container holding dry ice into the tank and forcing coagulatiion and causing it to harden so I can remove the blocks of material. I am interested in Chill Filtering and the equipment needed. Currently we filter down to .50 microns with very good success. Anyone having any thoughts about the dry ice idea?

Please email me at [email protected]

Dick G