Farm Horizons, April 2018

Extension offers home food producers classes to ensure perfectly safe products

By Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

Do friends rave about your strawberry-rhubarb jelly? Do folks clamor for your salsa, or beg for your secret cupcake recipe? If friends like these items, so might customers. A profitable home-based business could be in the future.

The State of Minnesota passed legislation in 2015, which allows home-based, business-minded people the opportunity to make and sell certain types of food from their home kitchens (or “cottage”) without a license, as long as they register annually, and complete food safety training

The University of Minnesota Extension has cooked up a food safety class that meets the state’s criteria, and offers the lessons in the classroom or online. The class is called Cottage Food Producer Food Safety Training.

Cooking methods covered in the class include drying, baking, confections, jams and jellies, acid and acidified fruit and vegetables, and fermentation.

Students will also learn how to produce, package, label, store, and transport their creations safely.

People attending the in-person class will also have the opportunity to test their products to determine if they will pass current Cottage Food Law.

By attending a workshop or taking the online course, potential home-based entrepreneurs will meet the legally-required tier 2 steps, which include: taking an approved food safety course once every three years while actively selling cottage food; and preparing and selling only non-potentially hazardous food (such as baked goods, certain jams and jellies) and/or home canned pickles, vegetables, or fruits with a pH of 4.6 or lower.

Minnesota Extension currently has a three-member food safety team. They are Extension educators Kathy Brandt, based in the Marshall regional office; Suzanne Driessen, based in the St. Cloud regional office; and Joellen Feirtag, based out of the Andrew Boss Lab of Meat Science in St. Paul.

The trio teaches the Cottage Food Law class, as well as other food safety classes, such as Safe Food Sampling at Farmers’ Market, and Home Food Preservation.

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