Cottage Foods
Cottage Foods
Cottage Foods
University of California
Cottage Foods

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ALERT--California Small Farm Conference hosts a Cottage Food

Short Course on October 29, 2017

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) will present a Cottage Food Operations Short Course on Sunday, October 29 at the Robert Cabral Ag Center in Stockton. It is designed especially for farmers--but open to anyone interested in producing value-added products in their home kitchen. Participants will learn about California’s Cottage Food Law which allows individuals to prepare and package certain non-potentially hazardous foods in private home kitchens referred to as “Cottage Food Operations” (CFOs).

Two Cottage Food Operators--Jen Cooper with Ben and Max Snacks, and Diane and Michael Alley with Suburban Harvest Artisan Vinegars—will describe how they started and operate their Cottage Food businesses. There will also be jam-making and fruit-drying demonstrations, and time for questions.

Topics covered include: the Cottage Food Law; food science and sanitation; Cottage Food opportunities; and marketing and business operations for CFOs. Because processed meat, dairy, fermented foods, and juices are not legally acceptable cottage foods, they will not be covered in this short course.

The registration fee for this course is $75; it includes lunch. It is led by Erin DiCaprio, Ph.D., UC Davis Food Science and Technology and Shermain Hardesty, Ph.D., UC Davis Ag Economics. It runs from 9AM to 4:15PM. To register, visit the California Small Farm Conference webpage at:    

Registration for the full Small Farm Conference is not required. For more information, contact Shermain Hardesty, UC Davis/UCCE Small Farm Program at or (530) 752-0467.


California Cottage Food Operations

On September 21, 2012, California joined 45 states with Cottage Food laws when Governor Brown signed the California Homemade Food Act into law. This law, implemented January 1, 2013,  creates a new category of retail food facilities known as a Cottage Food Operation (CFO), which will allow persons using home kitchens to make and sell limited quantities of non-potentially hazardous foods. Cottage food products are non-potentially hazardous foods that are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria or other toxic microorganisms at room temperature.

The California Homemade Food Act was intended to promote local economic development, increase access to healthy foods, promote healthy eating, and support community-based food production.

Approved Cottage Foods

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has established a list of currently approved food products that may quality to be produced by CFOs. As of January 1, 2017, the list includes (partial list):

  • Baked goods, without cream, custard, or meat fillings
  • Candy, such as brittle and toffee.
  • jelly
    Dried fruit.
  • Dried pasta.
  • Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales.
  • Granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
  • Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Nut mixes and nut butters.
  • Vinegar and mustard.
  • Roasted coffee and dried tea.
  • Confections such as salted caramel, fudge, marshmallow bars, chocolate covered marshmallows, nuts, and hard candy, or any combination thereof.
  • Dried or Dehydrated vegetables.
  • Dried grain mixes.
  • Fried or baked donuts and waffles
  • Dried hot chocolate powdered mixes or hardened cocoa pieces
  • Fruit infused balsamic vinegar (containing only high-acid fruits such as apple, crabapple, nectarine, peach, plum, quince, blackberry,
    blueberry, cherry, cranberry, grape, huckleberry, gooseberry, loganberry, pomegranate, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, tomatillo, youngberry, grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, lime, orange).

Pickled products, acidified foods such as chutneys and salsas, foods containing meat, and any food that requires refrigeration are NOT approved cottage foods in California.

Requirements of California's Cottage Food Law

Resources for Cottage Foods Operators

Operating Your Cottage Foods Business - guidance and resources for starting and operating your cottage food operation.

Types of Cottage Foods - Information and handbooks for Cottage Food Production

If you find Cottage Foods to be too restricted, check out our information about Specialty Foods on the UC Small Farm Program website

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