How many sell homecooked food at their farmer's market?

canuckistani(5b)January 18, 2009

Is it usually allowed at most farmer's markets?

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In california, it is a major pain to be able to sell home cooked food at a certified farmers market.
Your kitchen has to be inspected by the health department, you must have a seperate license from the county that costs a fair amount of money.
There are some farmers markets that allow folks to sell, but out side the market area. It is risky here, as the market manager is ultimatley at risk.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 8:01PM
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Harvest preservation is a way to make value added products.
I sell my pickled Sicilian eggplant. It requires NO canning/sterilization.
If you keep it submerged in oil it will withstand a non-refrigerated trip to market. Shelf life covered in refrigerator is minimum 1 week.( It gets even better after 1st day made.)
You will get 1/2+ volume of amount eggplants start with.
1) peel +/- 2.5 pounds of your Italian eggplant; cut in 1/2 lengthwise; then cut into long slices 1/8+ inch thick; layer slices sprinkled with pickling/kosher salt in a draining receptacle (colander/grill); press with weight atop the salted eggplant for minimum 1/2 hour ; discard dark/bitter liquid & rinse with cold water; drain 5 - 10 minutes or better yet squeeze firmly in towel to extract maximum retained fluid
2) cut +/- 1/8 inch thick slices from across 3 celery stalks; bring celery & 3 cups water & 3 cups distilled white vinegar to a boil together in a non-reactive vessel; cook on high for up to 5 minutes (goal is to keep enough crunch in celery); THEN add eggplant to this celery vinegar & reboil for 2 minutes ( or more if egplant sliced thick) ; finally drain all the veggies with a weight atop for a minimum of 10 minutes
3) layer eggplant/celery, 4 thin sliced garlic cloves, dried red pepper chips, 1.5 tablespoons of oregano flakes & drizzle 1/2+ cup olive oil to thoroughly coat everything; eat immediately at room temperature or conserve cold covered ... really very easy after 1st try

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 10:33PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Depends upon what you are calling home cooked food. I have my home processing and my microprocessing permits here in KY. That means that I can make items that have something in them that I've raised. Therefore, I sell jams, jellies, salsa, chutneys, and sauces. I also sell a wide variety of breads made with some vegetable or fruit that I've raised.

Each state is different in what it allows and it's regulations for such.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 12:57PM
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"Kydaylilylady",I used to live between Franklin and Scotsville, Ky. And used to buy from the Amish home fruit and veggie stands, The used to sell home made;cookies, fudge, breads, pastries,ect.. Is on farm sales different?Because here in Oklahoma you can only on farm such as raw milk.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 3:29PM
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Only other value added product I make is from pickling cucumbers grown;
it doesn't require sterile canning, stays crisp 1 month in the fridge
(lasts 6 months = less crunchy) & holds up without refrigeration to market/customers' home.
Easy recipe proportions:
3 pounds ,clean "picklers"; rub bitter out of body with 1/4" cap cut off stem end (or do both ends); throw away end piece(s); cut into 1/4's as spears (omit big seeds); pack into non-reactive container (jar/ceramic crock); pour in brine to cover (weigh floaters down); let sit minimum 2 days (want green color to lighten)
Brine = 4 cup distilled white or apple cider vinegar + 1/4 cup pickling/kosher salt + 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup powdered mustard
... Betcha can't eat just one ....

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:08PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Tulsa, I guess it's one of those things that if the health department doesn't catch you you can do whatever you want...
A lot of the Amish follow that type of rule around here it seems....

Unless we follow the rules of the House Bill that allows us to make items using things that we grow in products we're supposed to have certified commercial kitchens to make anything. Whether or not they did, I can't say. As far as I know farm sales follow the same rules.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 11:17AM
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bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)

Last year I sold zucchini bread and pear nut bread, I also made apple and pumpkin pies. All of them sold very well. In fact they almost sold out every time. This year I plan to make more kinds of breads since they did so well last year. For us we do not have to have a certified kitchen to sell bakery.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 7:42PM
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I always could sell a little 1/2 - 1# bag of home made peanut butter (holds OK at market unrefrigerated & at home takes up small space in fridge until next market:
roast peanuts, let cool, rub 'em, winnow husks & pass through grinder 1st time coarse, 2nd time add in salt & sugar grinding fine, finally put in food processor to cream all together uniformly.
If must make cheaper product stretch yield adding in pan toasted, not raw, vegetable oil.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:02PM
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In terms of value added items I'm considering selling corriander chutney, salsas, and pepper-herb flavoured cooking oil.

Also thinking about some homemade pizza slices, stuffed peppers, bruschetta, curry. I'm worried it might be hard to keep these items fresh at the market though.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 4:39PM
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Please, please be careful with what you offer for sale. The FDA has regs about what you can sell to the public (including open-air markets and farmers markets) and they are really VERY tough on the little guys if caught. I abide by the regs because this is my hobby income and I would not want to be shut down permanently, let alone sicken anyone because of my ignorance. Just because you serve it to your family does not mean it is OK to offer it for sale.

One of the biggies is that home-canned food prepared in a pressure canner can never be offered for sale in any State, Nationwide. Reason is they can't certify that the proper pounds of pressure and length of time was used when prepared in a home canning kitchen. There is also no way to water bath can low acid foods safely unless pickled (acidified) and PLEASE NO CANNED GREEN BEANS - they've killed enough people already.

To offer ACID and ACIDIFIED (pickled) LOW ACID canned foods the FDA (Nationwide) requires you to complete a course and become an Operation Supervisor, or have one supervise your entire process for each batch. It is called "Acidified Foods Processing and Packaging, Better Process Control School" that is offered through County Extension offices in each State. This would include water bath canned foods like pickles, salsa, mustards, chutney, vinegars, and all tomato products. REFRIGERATED PICKLES cannot ever be offered for sale either (not shelf stable)! You must also register your "facility" with the FDA under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 if you want to sell acidified foods. It is free to register. The reason is that they want a chain of contamination if something nasty breaks out - remember the bags of spinach, canned mushrooms, peanut butter? And, if you sell acidified low acid foods, you must file a Process Control sheet for each product, also free. I would be very, very worried about offering the Sicilian Pickled Eggplant recipe posted here without it being tested by my States Food Science Lab, not having an Acidified Foods approval, and, that it is not shelf stable. OK for family, but really scary being offered for sale at a Farmers Market.

Each State has regs, as do some Cities and Counties. It would be wise to research them for your location, and not go by what the neighboring vendor says, or sells. Here in NC I have to have a Dept of INSPECTED KITCHEN and have my well inspected against E. coli every year. They can come in at any time without announcement to verify that their regs are being followed - just like they do for inspecting restaurants - and have the power to shut you down if not up to par.

Another item you want to consider is the risk of botulism, molds, and bacteriaÂs like listeria and salmonella when foods are sold that must be kept hot or kept cold  which are not "SHELF STABLE". I would not want to take a chance that your customer leaves it in the car all day, eats it the next week, and sues you when they get sick. It does happen. BTW, do you have Mil$ liability insurance on your offerings in case it does? I do, for $125 a year. And, with TAKE AWAY foods, you may need a City, County, and/or State Health Department permit, usually called a "Concession Stand" or "Catering" Permit. It is hard to abide by their regs because of the risk of airborne contaminations outside of your kitchen.

The FDA also does not want you to sell fresh meats, dairy products, frozen treats, sandwiches, cream pies, baked goods with meat, juices and hot coffee, for example, without the correct permits added to the shelf stable regs. For any MEAT OR DAIRY product, the USDA gets a say with their regs. I would not want to mess with them either. These regs are nationwide, not just State regulated. Selling EGGS also has regs so just out of the back of your truck is not a good thing to offer. I would really, really worry about those postings suggesting meat stuffed peppers, curry, pizza, fresh sandwiches, grilled peppers, and even that peanut butter (oil based). Your Market Manager should also be up on the regs since he/she would be held liable even if ignorant of the regs, which is not an excuse. Consequences are severe.

As for BAKED goods, there is little regulation except that you should not offer anything that is not shelf stable. This includes no-no's like meringues and cheesecakes, very juicy pies and creamy tarts that are unstable in the open air. Breads and cakes, cookies and candies are shelf stable and are good sellers. That is why the Amish have such a nice variety. Pies are iffy  it is the water activity that the FDA is most concerned about - higher than .91% invites microorganisms to grow.
It is very difficult to ascertain your products water activity without expensive equipment. Suffice it to say that if your pie is very juicy and needs refrigeration to be safe, it is not good to offer it for sale.

As for DEHYDRATED foods - there is little water activity so they are not regulated. Go ahead with jerky, dried veggies, fruits, and herbs, even dried soup blends. They are very good sellers and safe.

As for JAMS AND JELLY - there is little possibility for growth of botulism with their high sugar content and the natural acidity of most fruits. But be careful - bananas, figs, peaches, persimmons, pears, plums, mangoes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apricots, and tomatoes are low-acid and MUST have bottled lemon juice added to bring up the acidity levels when jellied or jammed. Molds are a problem if not canned properly (you must use a water bath canner for proper sealing and for long term safe storage).

As for anything using OILS - don't go there. Especially low acid foods like garlic, peppers, onions, and herbs. There is a very high incidence of botulism contamination in the totally perfect environment oil packed foods contain. I personally would include nut butters in this group. A week in the refrigerator is not going to inhibit the growth of botulism.

LABELING is very important. First of all you want your customer to come back to your booth, or call you with special orders. The FDA has labeling regs  it is just common sense to include them with your product. Fancy name of product, common name of product, ingredients in descending order, facility name, location and phone number, weight, preparation date or code. Be sure that you note on everything canned that it must be refrigerated after opening, and include an expiration date, and that should including fresh baked goods. That is for your own protection from lawsuits.

If you are looking for more information about preparing home-prepared foods for sale or personal use - please visit the HARVEST FORUM here on GW. It mostly concerns home-canned and preserved foods and has a wealth of information in current and past posts, plus, lots of recipes and discussions about recipes found on the web.
Another resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). It is our go-to for any type of food preservation and even includes many great tasting and safety proven recipes. I also suggest you peruse the University of GeorgiaÂs book "So Easy To Preserve". FDA blessed. Recipes are not copyrighted, even yours, so it is totally OK to use the safe ones, just donÂt expect that GrandmaÂs recipe, or the one youÂve used for 50 years is OK to sell to the general public.

Nancy the nancedar

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 8:51PM
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Hi nancedar,
Very clear explanation of those USA regulations.
I thank you for pointing out some considerations for me to keep an eye on.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:17AM
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Great information. Thanks so much Nancy.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 5:24PM
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In one of my markets, the board of health, doesn't look "our" way and we can get by with selling home cooked foods without being certified kitchen. The other one, the board of health DEMANDS a food certification course, food safety course, certified kitchen and the board of health person being there when the product is made for at least the first time before you can sell. This is in addition to the yearly fee. We have to pay the fee, even if we "buy" jams/jellies from a commercial company.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 8:42AM
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