When you’re making two jars of jam on top of your stove, it’s simple to understand your recipe. There’s sugar, berries, and pectin. You don’t even have to weigh anything out.
But, what happens when two jars becomes two hundred jars?
A lot. Many food products take a completely different shape when they’re scaled up. You might need more sugar to decrease the acidity of your products. You might need more blueberries to get the same intense flavor you had with two jars.
Scaling your recipe isn’t easy as multiplying.
For my own company, I’ve lucked out that my ingredients do scale with a 1:1 relationship, but some companies aren’t so lucky. Here are a couple of products you might want to watch out for when you start to scale your recipe:
Using the same ratio of habanero peppers in your salsa is going to dramatically affect the heat in your products. If you keep a 1:1 ratio, you’re going to start breathing fire out of your mouth. Make sure to scale down your pepper ratio 10% or so. The same goes for any produce.
Not all spices are created equally. Some sources are stronger than the others. For example, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, and black pepper all have varying degrees of strength depending on the amount you use and the brand. Adding too much of one spice could make it over-powering, so start with small batches before you fill the whole oven with over-cinnamoned (like that word?) granola.
3. Frozen/Fresh Ingredients
This one may seem obvious, but it you’re switching from a fresh product to frozen because of better pricing or ease-of-use in larger productions, do a test-run first. Many frozen products increase the water content of your product. This means what used to be a thick & creamy paste is now watery and run-down. If you’re using fresh ingredients, you should continue – even if fresh ingredients are more expensive.
Bottom line? Ingredients are temperamental. And you won’t know it until you make bigger batches. Your goal is to get the same flavor profile with 200 jars you got with two. It takes a ton of trial and error, but it’s worth it. Going into production assuming a 1:1 ratio means lots of money down the drain.
Producing your products on a much larger scale is not easy.
Watch how ingredients scale. Taste-test with family and friends to see which variation comes out on top – and make sure your product is profitable with the new process.
Picture credit – Scott Hamlin on Flickr