Cottage Foods: Making them safely

Make some extra money by producing safe cottage foods in your home kitchen.

In the state of Michigan, certain foods are allowed to be produced in a home kitchen and sold by the producer at farmers markets and other similar venues. These foods are called cottage foods. This is a great way to test the waters for your product and make some extra money.

It is important to keep in mind, even though you do not have to produce your product in a licensed kitchen, a safe product is still vital. Keeping food safety in mind is a must when preparing food for the public.

As in a commercial kitchen, hand washing is still a significant food safety practice. Hands need to be washed thoroughly for 20 seconds in hot soapy water, rinsed and dried with a single use towel, not the common cloth towel we normally use at home to dry hands. Wash hands often; before starting food preparation, after using the rest room, after smoking, after eating and drinking, after getting interrupted by another task, after petting or handling family pets and after changing a diaper.

Do not prepare cottage foods if you or another family member is sick with vomiting or diarrhea. Viruses such as Norovirus can be easily spread to others, so wait until symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours before preparing your product.

Keep your kitchen clean. Anything that touches food should be not only washed, but sanitized too. Chlorine bleach is an excellent sanitizer and is inexpensive. The correct sanitizer concentration is important also. Use test strips, which can be purchased in a food service to test your sanitizer strength. It should be between 50-99 ppm. Do not use bleaches with fragrance added for food preparation sanitation.

Michigan State University Extension offers an online webinar called Michigan Cottage Food Law, which covers these and other important information about preparing cottage foods. A certificate can be obtained following participation in the online webinar which can be displayed at your booth where you sell your product. Although a certificate is not required by law, it’s a great marketing tool to let your customers know you have received food safety training.

Making cottage foods can be rewarding, fun and a source of potential income. Keeping your product safe is an essential part of your cottage food business.

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