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Preservatives- Extending the refrigerated life of AMBC

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Hello all! Let me begin by saying I am not a scientist. I’m just smart enough to know when I need help from those smarter than me. I’m attempting to extend the (refrigerated) life of my American buttercream frosting from two weeks to about 3 months, preferably using “natural” preservatives. American buttercream frostings typically have about 1.5 c (unsalted) butter, 4 c confectioner’s sugar, a tbsp of heavy cream/milk., flavorings, and seasoning. Each different recipe would need tinkering and I’m not sure where to begin. I’m willing to research but keep in mind I barely made it out of college chemistry with a “C” so if you can explain things to me like I’m your dumbest group partner I’d appreciate it. Also any recommendations for Intro to Food Chemistry resources (i.e. kind of non-technical to begin) would be appreciated. 

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There are chemists on this site and I’m not one of them. <end disclaimer>

I suspect you could get another week or 2 out of your products by adding a pinch of salt or some baking soda while they’re fresh... mostly since doing that with milk helps extend its life, though to achieve 3 months I think something heavier duty is likely required... sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, natamycin, etc.

Others who are smarter than me in this space may have better ideas to share, so hopefully they will reply here, too. Good luck!

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Would storing it in a pumpable vacuum container be feasible.

set-of-3-food-vacuum-storage-containers-

Edited by StringJunky

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1 minute ago, StringJunky said:

Would storing it in a pumpable vacuum container be feasible.

I imagine if you take the air out it would be liquidated.

 

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2 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

I imagine if you take the air out it would be liquidated.

 

OK. Just read vacuum sealing will extend a refrigerated product that normally lasts 1-3 days to about  two weeks

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1 minute ago, StringJunky said:

OK. Just read vacuum sealing will extend a refrigerated product that normally lasts 1-3 days to about  two weeks

I thought about heating it, as in UHT but i fear the same result.

 

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43 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

I thought about heating it, as in UHT but i fear the same result.

 

Yes, that did cross my mind then vacuum sealing.

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So far I’ve found that vitamin e (tocopherol) is an antioxidant that slows the decay of butter. Also rosemary extractives are being used as natural preservatives. I’m developing this product for eventual sale so while the initial packaging will be airtight, I would still like to have the three month window to allow a slight inventory cushion, shipping time, and time on the shelf in the store. As I research I’m learning that natural only means derived from natural sources, not necessarily processed in a natural manner.   Doing more research on sodium benzoate now since most recipes call for a pinch of salt, I’m wondering if I can substitute a salt based preservative. Thanks for the replies friends. 

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Found this, not sure if it helps. (Artificial preservatives). There's another 3 category's  on the site (Antioxidants, sequestrants and FDA regulation). Not sure about copyright so didn't post them. Here's the link..

https://bakerpedia.com/ingredients/artificial-preservatives/

Category 1: Antimicrobials1,2,3 

(there was meant to be some information here, but it won't post it, maybe to big).

 
 
Edited by Curious layman

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There are two major ways that food "goes off".

  • Bacteria or other micro organisms grow on it or
  • it is intrinsically unstable.

You can kill the bugs by pasteurisation. However, something that has more sugar than anything else is probably not going to be attacked by microbes.

(Jam is a way of preserving fruit by adding so much sugar that there is not enough water for the bacteria.

 

On the other hand, mixtures of fat and water (like butter) are  not stable. Even without bacterial help they go rancid.

There's not much you can do about that except keep the product cold.

 

What happens to the buttercream if you leave it (in a closed container ) for longer than the shelf life?

That might help you work out how it is going off and that will help you work out how to prevent that change.

 

 

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Searched net for recipes "how to make American buttercream frosting" and found that some authors suggest replacing butter by mixture of butter and shortening or using full shortening (margarine?).

Other websites mention unopened margarine expiration date 4-5 months after "the best before date", opened 1-2 months.

http://www.eatbydate.com/dairy/spreads/how-long-does-margarine-last-shelf-life-expiration-date/

In this article author is using margarine because they live in Las Vegas:

https://www.thepinningmama.com/the-worlds-best-buttercream-frosting-recipe/

 

Edited by Sensei

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The butter and cream are what I believe will go rancid. The sugar content does stave off that reaction to the extent that it can be left unrefrigerated for several days without issue. I do use a portion of shortening in the mix but since it leaves a waxy coating on the tongue it’s more to stabilize against heat and for decorating. I was only able to view the abstract for this journal which discusses the effect of tocopherol on butter. I’ll have to see if my library can help. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejlt.200600089

I’m guessing I’ll end up with a mix of that and a salt based preservative. 

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8 hours ago, Adamanator said:

The butter and cream are what I believe will go rancid. The sugar content does stave off that reaction to the extent that it can be left unrefrigerated for several days without issue. I do use a portion of shortening in the mix but since it leaves a waxy coating on the tongue it’s more to stabilize against heat and for decorating. I was only able to view the abstract for this journal which discusses the effect of tocopherol on butter. I’ll have to see if my library can help. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejlt.200600089

I’m guessing I’ll end up with a mix of that and a salt based preservative. 

As JC already said, the rancidity is a function of it not being stable; light, warmth and air are the main culprits it seems. It wants to be cold, dark and air-free to slow that process down.

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On 11/7/2019 at 12:43 PM, Adamanator said:

American buttercream frostings typically have about 1.5 c (unsalted) butter, 4 c confectioner’s sugar, a tbsp of heavy cream/milk., flavorings, and seasoning

It doesn't really matter but, how did anyone come to the conclusion that buttercream is different outside America?

 

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Different buttercreams have different methods of preparation and different places of origin. Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Italian Buttercream, etc. 

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