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What products made in a home kitchen (or another appropriately designed and equipped kitchen on a farm) can be sold under the "cottage food operation" provisions?

AnswerA cottage food operator may sell any food or drink not on the prohibited cottage food list as approved by the local health department

What foods are prohibited?

  • Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, or shellfish
  • Dairy, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or candy, such as caramel subject to paragraph (4) (see below), or as an ingredient in a baked good frosting, such as buttercream;
  • Eggs, except as an ingredient in a non-potentially hazardous baked good or in dry noodles, or as an ingredient in a baked good frosting, such as buttercream, if the eggs are not raw;
  • Pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, cheesecakes, custard pies, creme pies, and pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings
  • Garlic in oil or oil infused with garlic, except if the garlic oil is acidified; A food is "acidified" if: acid or acid ingredients are added to it to produce a final equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below; or it is fermented to produce a final equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below. "Equilibrium pH" means the final potential of hydrogen measured in an acidified food after all the components of the food have achieved the same acidity.
  • Low-acid canned foods;
  • Sprouts; "Sprout" means any seedling intended for human consumption that was produced in a manner that does not meet the definition of microgreen.
  • Cut leafy greens, except for cut leafy greens that are dehydrated, acidified, or blanched and frozen; "Leafy greens" includes iceberg lettuce; romaine lettuce; leaf lettuce; butter lettuce; baby leaf lettuce, such as immature lettuce or leafy green; escarole; endive; spring mix; spinach; cabbage; kale; arugula; and chard. "Leafy greens" does not include microgreens or herbs such as cilantro or parsley. "Microgreen" means an edible plant seedling grown in soil or substrate and harvested above the soil or substrate line.*
  • Cut fresh tomato or melon
  • Dehydrated tomato or melon
  • Frozen cut melon
  • Wild-harvested, non-cultivated mushrooms
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Kombucha

In order to sell a baked good with cheese, a local health department may require a cottage food operation to submit a recipe, at the cottage food operator’s expense, to a commercial laboratory to verify that it is non-potentially hazardous before allowing the cottage food operation to sell the baked good as cottage food.

*“Cut leafy greens” means larger leaves that are torn, cut, shredded, or otherwise made into smaller pieces; it does not mean the harvest cut. If you are unsure whether a food or drink you want to make would be allowed after reading this list, you should speak with your local public health department.


Are canned tomatoes and tomato products, such as salsa allowed?

Yes:  All tomatoes and tomato products must be processed in a boiling water bath canner or pressure canner and must have acid added, even when processed in a pressure canner. You must either use a USDA or Cooperative Extension recipe exactly or have your recipe tested by a commercial laboratory to verify that the pH is 4.6 or below.


What is meant by canned food?

"Canned food" means food that has been heat processed sufficiently under United States Department of Agriculture guidelines to enable storing the food at normal home temperatures..


Which jams, butters, preserves, and jellies are prohibited?

All jams and jellies are allowed. Fruit butters are allowed with the exception of pumpkin butter: Canning pumpkin butter or mashed or pureed pumpkin is not recommended. According to the USDA, home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash.


Can I sell canned pickles?

Yes, any vegetables that are canned must include a step that raises the acidity, by pickling, fermenting, or other means of adding acid. All fermented or acidified products, must either use a USDA or Cooperative Extension recipe exactly or submit an annual written food safety plan (form provided by the county health department) for each category of products that uses the same procedures. For example, if the cottage food operator planned to sell fermented pickles and acidified pickles (with vinegar), the operator would need to submit two food safety plans since the procedures are different. In addition, a pH test must also be submitted every 3 years.


What does "cut leafy greens" in the prohibited foods list refer to?

Cut leafy greens are in reference to torn, cut, shredded, sliced,  or chopped green leaves such as those prepared to be used in salads, not the cut from the base of the plant that is performed during harvest.