storing fruit before canning

trianglejohnAugust 20, 2014

I grow a lot of different and unusual fruit. I want to eventually sell these sorts of plants to other gardeners. I think it would help me sell the plants if I had a way to let people taste the fruit (what does it taste like? being the most popular question) but the season for the fruit and the season for optimum planting are way different. Is there an acceptable way to store the fruit and then having the jams and jellies made in a commercial kitchen? My state won't permit me to make anything at home because I have pets and I know there are incubator kitchens nearby and I also know a few people that have certified kitchens at their homes or business. But while I read all the rules and regulations, all the info is on taking fresh produce through the process. During harvest season I'm a bit busy and there is no way to know when the fruit will be at peak flavor before hand, so there's no way I can pre-book time at the incubator kitchen (which is also busiest during harvest season). I would rather freeze everything and then have the cooking done in the off season, but that involves storing the fruit which isn't mentioned in the rules. I would prefer to store everything here at my house in a separate chest freezer. Does anybody know if this is done?

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If nancedar doesn't see this post, try sending her an email through GardenWeb. She lives in North Carolina - I know she sells her homemade jams and jellies and knows the rules and regs. Off hand, she's the best person I can think of to answer your questions.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Yep! I was hoping to hear from her. I may have to corner her at the Farmers Market to pick her brain a bit.

It just seems odd to me - when you read through the rules and reg's about booking time at the certified kitchens, it seems like they get kinda busy during peak harvest season. So a person would have to hold their produce until they can find time on the schedule, but the info also states using fresh produce. If my house isn't good enough to be certified I doubt my freezer is either but what else is a guy to do...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 4:35PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

I have had good luck with prepping the fruit; mixing in most of the sugar in a zip freezer bag, then freezing. The sugar helps keep the fruit from browning (though sometimes I add fruit fresh). Then, when able to jam, I can just pull out and finish the process. I don't know how your regs would work with this, since you are doing food prep at home.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:48PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Just a thought, and it's not something I've ever looked into, but if selling the plants your goal, could you give away samples legally and not sell them. Offer tastes, no charge, if satisfying their curiosity and encouraging them to buy your plant material.

My thinking was - They cook and pass out samples at aisles end at Costco for Pete's Sake, how unsanitary must that be much of the time with about half the customers coughing during flu season and reaching for bites/treats. But again, different state and I've never had reason to check

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:37PM
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Around here they have different rules at different markets. At the big state run market which is the nearest to my house (I could ride a bike to it) they do give away cut samples of fruit which is what I was planning on doing if the fruit was ripe when the weather was good for planting. I've sold plants at markets before and once the weather gets hot or cold the sales plummet and it isn't worth hauling them over there. A hot parking lot is just plant torture, not good for me, not good for the plants and not good for sales. The main questions I get from folks is, "what does it taste like?" and "what do you do with it?". Kiwi, Goumi, Aronia and native plums produce far more fruit than I can eat, but I don't grow enough to have an entire booth of it every weekend at the market. So I thought a seasonal booth selling the plants with some of the foods you can make with the crop would be a way to make money twice from one effort. Our laws in NC are pretty strict. Mostly I was hoping for clarity on this issue, surely everyone isn't making jelly with fresh fruit.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 8:53PM
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If you are going to give away samples there are no regs as the NC Sales and Use taxes are not collected so no one cares. Fruit you grow yourself as a farmer is not taxed unless you process it. As far as I know the NC Dept of Ag does not have rules for how you keep fruits you grow, so your chest freezer can be used. It is not any different than keeping fruits in the refrigerator, or storing vegetables in sand over the winter, or curing in an open shed. You are not "processing" them, just storing them.

However, If you want to preserve your fruits canned as jams, dehydrated, or in baked goods and you don't have an approved kitchen yourself, you use a commercial kitchen (you can use mine for free BTW) so then they assume the responsibility of following the regs but you would have to collect the taxes from the customers and file quarterly and all that because they are "processed" and therefore taxed. Another option would be to sell the processed fruits under the commercial kitchen's company name and they would send in the taxes collected under their account while you pay them at a wholesale rate for the other ingredients, keeping any markup for yourself.

Email me and we can discuss more NC regs and other issues if you like. I'm not at the same market where we were way back when.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:49AM
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