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A sauce is a liquid, cream or semi-liquid substance served with, or used in preparing food. It adds flavour, moisture and visual appeal to a dish. Sauces can be used for sweet and savoury dishes. Their texture can range from smooth liquids, like mayonnaise and dressings to highly viscous and even grainy or chunky dips like pestos and salsas. Sauces are essential in all cuisines but also vary in taste worldwide.

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Every great sauce starts with a great recipe. Be it making a sauce in your kitchen or for shelfing in supermarket racks, taste is of utmost importance. Your recipe and the capacity at which you would like to make sauces will define the technology that is helpful for your production process.

Different production processes for different sauces

Most sauces are based on the principle of reduction. This involves cooking down liquids and aromatics to concentrate and meld flavours. A simple jus is created this way too. Pan sauces and milk or stock-based sauces like bechamel are based on this principle.

Emulsified sauces such as Hollandaise, Bechamel or Mayonnaise have one thing in common. They all leave a rich and luscious taste in the mouth which comes from having fat suspended in water. These sauces are made by the rapid mixing of suspended butter or oil into egg yolks. The dispersion breaks the butter or oil into tiny droplets that are held in suspension by lecithin in the emulsifier.

Sauces based on fruit or vegetables, such as berries or tomatoes, require equipment to handle or prepare fresh products. They can also be made with concentrates, frozen or aseptic packaged products. Pasteurization of sauces is essential to guarantee product quality and shelf life. You require good Clean In Place (CIP) systems especially if you want to create different sauces with the same production line. These types of sauces generally require stainless steel grinders, juicers and food strainers to remove unwanted debris in the sauce. For example, a tomato strainer would be used to remove seeds from the tomato sauce.

Processing Tomato Sauces and Purees

Tomatoes are processed into concentrates, tomato ketchup, pasta sauces or peeled and diced tomatoes. These production lines include steps for tomato milling, sorting, washing, scalding and peel removal as well as chopping, cutters or dicing them for further processing. Before automation, people would spend hours with hand crank appliances (like a Weston sauce maker) to manually take care of these processes. Luckily nowadays we have much quicker solutions with advanced technology.

After crushing or emulsifying with augers, the tomato mixture goes to a hot break treatment unit for enzymatic inactivation to ensure consistency and viscosity of the sauce. The mixture is then refined, concentrated through evaporation and pasteurized or sterilized. People assume that ketchup and tomato sauces are the same thing. However, they differ quite a lot in their production process.

Emulsified sauces and dressings

Emulsified sauces like mayonnaise, vinaigrettes and salad dressings are usually produced in 2 different steps. First the flavour makers, spices and preservatives are premixed together with, for example, water or vinegar and dispersed into a continuous phase.

The next step is to add the oil while whisking rapidly for further dispersion to create a homogeneous emulsion. The last step is the addition of thickening stabilizers such as pectin together with the visible spices.

The right filling and packing method for your sauce

After having prepared the perfect sauce, it is equally important to find an apt and hygienic filling solution for it depending on the sauce type. For instance, aseptic processing is a technique where thermally sterilized liquid products are packaged into previously sterilized containers under sterile conditions. It allows you to produce shelf-stable products that do not need refrigeration. A hot-fill solution entails injecting a hot liquid into a container and allowing the heat to sterilize the product and inside of the container including its cap in order to ensure the safety of the product and prolong its shelf life. However only high-acid products can go without refrigeration. Another option is retort processing where non-sterile products are filled into non-sterile packaging and sterilized in an autoclave with pressurized steam.

The type of packaging chosen is crucial to keep your condiments and sauces safe and fresh from fill through end-use. The packaging needs to be visually appealing and convenient to use and store. Whether you choose to pack your sauce into containers, bottles, jars, cans, pouches or even sachets also depends on the nature of your sauces.

Sauce making equipment in action

Making pesto sauce

Multi-purpose cooking equipment

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