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Thread: Heating for bottling

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Heating for bottling

    I struggle with heating for bottling. I try to never go higher than 185, I bottle in glass. I know, unfortunately, I'm still making sugar on the bottom of my pan. I'd love a water jacketed bottling set up but I'm a small(?about 30 gallons of syrup this year) hobby bottler and don't know if I can afford the set up. Has anyone ever used a Sous Vide element to heat their syrup to exact temp? I don't own one but I know what they are and think they would be very helpful in my plight to get the right temp without producing sugar.
    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Jan 2008
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    I feel your pain. Before I had a steam pan bottler, I would run into the same problem. There are two things that I did that helped. First, I stopped preheating the bottles. You didn't mention that you did that, but just in case.

    The second thing I did was to gently stir the syrup the whole time it's heating up. The syrup making contact with the bottom of the pan nearest the heat source is getting heated rapidly enough that it is creating niter. The rest of the pan may be 150 degrees, but the syrup sitting on the bottom is getting scorched a bit. Think of making chowder or a creamy soup if you don't stir. So, the good news is the stirring helped a lot, but it wasn't 100% improved. Once in a while I'd still get a hazy batch. Very frustrating. The other challenge is that it's exhausting and boring to stand there stirring for 90 minutes while I brought 4 gallons up to temp. That said, it got me by until I saved up for a steam bottler.

    I think the sous vide would have the same problem. The syrup making contact with the heating element could scorch. If you are making 30 gallons per year and you do a good amount of sales in glass, a steam pan bottler (cheaper than water jacket) will pay for itself in comfort. I got the Smoky Lake one without an electric element so I can use my stove. Now I can heat 13 gallons and walk away and do lots of things until it is ready. The cost of a sous vide gets you part way to the $600-$650.
    Last edited by SeanD; 03-25-2020 at 06:09 AM.
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  3. #3
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    After watching how easily controlled a sous vide heater works I would try it. The temp control is pretty remarkable and the gentle heating 'should' keep the niter at bay. It's also one of those things that even if it doesn't work for your syrup you might find that you love the way it makes pork chops. I use an induction cooktop and magnetic stainless 3 gallon stock pot for final boiling and heating for bottling. The control is awesome and it's been fitted with a spigot for bottle filling.

  4. #4
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    I'm curious. Has anyone tried pulling syrup one Brix heavy off the evaporator and then mixing with low density stuff to make it perfect density when bottling from the range top? That might avoid some of the niter issues because you are diluting to make density vs. condensing. I "accidentally" discovered this method when one of my evaporator thermometers was reading about 1-degree F too high. I have a couple of glass bottles that are 2-years on now without niter from this method. I also agree with the stirring method - that works well for me.
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  5. #5
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    We have a 2 burner propane setup and 15 gallon pan we use to heat filtered syrup to bottle. 2 things I’ve found really help are making sure we don’t go over 10 gallons at a time to heat from cold and stir as SeanD mentioned.
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  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyreaway View Post
    After watching how easily controlled a sous vide heater works I would try it. The temp control is pretty remarkable and the gentle heating 'should' keep the niter at bay. It's also one of those things that even if it doesn't work for your syrup you might find that you love the way it makes pork chops. I use an induction cooktop and magnetic stainless 3 gallon stock pot for final boiling and heating for bottling. The control is awesome and it's been fitted with a spigot for bottle filling.
    I'm fascinated by induction cooking. I've only seen it used as a hot plate. Do you pick a setting and all the metal of the pot reaches that specific temp that you set it at? In other words, once you figure out what setting gets you to 185 deg, does the pot go to that temp and hold there?
    Woodville Maples
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    Mix of natural and mechanical vac, S3 Controller from Mountain Maple
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  7. #7
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    Induction heating uses a process called magic. It's run by wee faeries in the hot plate and we are not allowed to see them. The process heats the contents of the pot rather than the pot itself. After boiling for hours the top of the pot and the handles are still cool enough to touch. I use a hot plate rated at 1800 watts but only run it 50-60% when boiling. There is a setting for keeping a set temp but I've found it not accurate enough to trust for bottling. It is easy enough to leave a thermometer in the syrup and change the heat range to keep the syrup at 190* for safe bottling. It's not fool proof or perfect but it's the best I've found for small batches.

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