Weâ€™ve long-written about the joys of preparing our own meals, often with farm-fresh produce grown ourselves. Many people who enjoy cooking as much as we do have started earning a profit from their home-cooking, thanks to cottage-food laws in effect in 42 states, making it possible to sell homemade goods to to the public.
We just finished giving a presentation this week in Florida, one of the states with the most flexible cottage-food laws in the county. Our attendees could pick up some flour, sugar and salt on the way home and bake a batch of cookies to sell at the Sunday Las Olas Sunday Farmersâ€™ Market in Ft. Lauderdale. Is this something youâ€™ve considered doing?
Cottage foods laws have largely come about as a result of the Great Recession, as a way to encourage small, home-based entrepreneurs. Depending on your state, these laws only apply to “potentially non-hazardous foodsâ€ťâ€”those that are either low-moisture products (cookies, cakes or breads) or high-acid foods (jams, jellies and preserves). Additionally, most states clearly define what other products you can sell, the venues where you can sell, and how much you can earn each year. Each state, however, requires certain information be printed on your product label, including a line that says something like “Not prepared in a state-approved commercial food facility nor subject to state inspection.â€ť
Whatâ€™s not covered by cottage-food laws are products that involve refrigeration, food service (including catering) or, in most cases, wholesale goods. Like selling fresh produce at a farmersâ€™ market, your cottage foods must be sold directly to your customers. Check with youâ€™re stateâ€™s law for specifics before you begin to sell.
If you love cooking, perhaps itâ€™s time to start selling what you love to make. Below are our recipes for Pita Bread and Pita Chips. Pita chips are an increasingly popular specialty food permitted by many cottage-food laws. In Florida, you cannot sell pickles or anything liquid under cottage food laws, but the pita chips below are perfectly legalâ€”just bake, weigh, bag, label and sell. We cover a lot more of the details in our newest book Homemade for Sale.
Recipe: Pita Bread
Courtesy Farmstead Chef,Â by Lisa Kivirist and John D. Ivanko
Yield: 6 pitas
- 2ÂĽ tsp. dry active yeast (one 0.25-ounce package)
- 1ÂĽ cup warm water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp. canola oil
In bowl of electric mixer, mix yeast in warm water. Let stand five minutes. Stir in salt and enough flour to make soft dough.
With dough hook of mixer on low speed or by hand on a floured surface, knead dought about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Do not let rise.
Divide dough into six equal pieces. Knead each piece individually for one minute.
Roll each piece into 5-inch circle. Sprinkle flour on baking sheet. Place circles on baking sheet, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.
Flip circles and place upside down on lightly oiled baking sheets. Bake at 500 degrees F for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.
Recipe: Pita Chips
Courtesy Farmstead Chef, by Lisa Kivirist and John D. Ivanko
Yield: 36 crunchy, salty chips
- 6 pitas
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt, garlic salt or seasoned salt
- 2 tsp. dried herbs, like oregano and basil
Cut each pita into six pie-shaped slices. Mix olive oil, salt and herbs. Using pastry brush, brush oil mixture on one side of pita slices.
Place slices on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F until they start to crisp, about 10 minutes. Watch closely to avoid making them too crispy or burnt.
Flip chips over, brush again with olive oil mixture, and bake for about 5 more minutes until crispy.
When out of oven, brush one more time lightly with olive oil.