What are Cottage Foods?

“Cottage foods” are those baked or produced in kitchens that may not be commercially certified, in businesses that typically sell less than $25,000 worth of food per year.

You’ve probably walked through a thriving farmers’ market, seen a business that looks minuscule and may not have a boss (besides the person staying warm in the dungaree jacket), and said,  “I want to be you!” You may have had a dinner party where someone told you your recipe is so great you should sell it, and you’ve paused with the right music on, thinking, “Side job? Night job?  Start-up?”

How to set up a cottage food business

Thanks to a nationwide effort going on to pass “cottage food” laws permitting small-scale, home-based food enterprises, with a modest $230 permit in Washington State you can start your own cottage food business.  As of September, Californians can join in the fun thanks to Governor Brown signing AB626, a California law letting home cooks similarly “taste victory”.

Now, you don’t need to rent a commercial kitchen with a five-year lease to get started selling a host of foods.  Additionally, you are almost certainly helping your customers “go local” by reducing their food’s carbon footprint, all while enjoying a fresher product.  Even better, consider also sourcing local, organic, and all-natural ingredients.

So what can you make?

Foods that are viewed as less dangerous and not needing elaborate permits and therefore legal to make in a non-commercial kitchen in Washington State, include:

quick breads, cookies, cakes, and loaves;

cereals, trail mixes, and granolas;

nut mixes and snacks;

ethnic baked goods like tortillas, pizelles (Italian waffle cookies), krumkake;

molded candies and chocolates;

Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters;

Packaged dried herbs and seasoning;

Teas, bread mixes, soup mixes, and dip mixes;


Check out this list of products you can make without a commercial kitchen, and in the meantime, I know what my Belgian American friends are thinking, “Why aren’t Belgian waffles on the list?” If there’s something you would like to make that isn’t yet on the list, apply here and get it on there!

Well stop envying and pondering — start baking up a business plan!

Featured photo by Jordane Mathieu

© Emeraldology 2018