Bigger and Better?

8_oz elderberry

In October we did a production run of elderberry syrup in a larger commercial kitchen. This kitchen sported a huge (100 gallons!) kettle that allowed us to produce 4x more than we normally produce in a day. The automatic filler was great too. We typically fill the bottles by hand, a process that requires a lot of concentration around hot liquid. Children aged 3-6 are introduced to the practice of pouring liquids in the Montessori curriculum, and maybe if I’d attended a Montessori preschool I wouldn’t, at age 50, still find filling bottles to a consistent level to be a challenge. Don’t get me started on all the physical forces that must be considered when controlling a heated liquid under pressure released through a narrow spigot.

physics of hot fill

This experiment with growth was interesting. It was exciting to learn how to use more commercial-scale equipment. However, I can’t help but wonder what may be lost when the process becomes less intimate. Certainly, there was more waste in the new process. The greater force of the syrup coming out of the large kettle resulted in some spillage. The automatic filler, while wonderfully consistent and fast, is commonly used to process jellies and sauces, and also wasted syrup through leakage. Experience, combined with some tweaking of the machines, would allow us to reduce this waste.

The speed of the process was another factor. The automatic filler is fast, but we still need to cap with human hands and an extra pair would help us keep up with the speed of the filler more comfortably. If we choose to use this large kitchen again we will probably need to hire help.

For me, the jury is still out on whether doing a bigger production run is better. It will take some time, but we’ll eventually figure it out.

Here are a few photos from the day.

captioned filling machinecaptioned fruit press


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