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How do I start a cottage food business?

By Suzanne Driessen
Extension food safety educator

Do you have extra produce in your garden? Make the tastiest granola? Perfected jalepeƱo apricot buffalo wing sauce? Why not turn these products into a cottage food business and join the ranks of 2600 Minnesota registered cottage food producers.

Under the 2015 Minnesota Cottage Food law, many shelf stable or unrefrigerated food products made in a home kitchen can be sold to the direct consumer at farmers’ markets and community events. Examples of cottage foods include high-acid, canned food products--preserves, pickles and salsas--and low-moisture baked goods fruit pies, bread, pastries, cakes, cookies and specialty items like candy, dried herbs jam and jelly dry mixes, flavored vinegars and more.

Interested? Here are tips to get started as a cottage food producer (CFP):
  • Learn the provisions of the law.
  • Check out the allowed and not allowed food list here
  • Stop by your local farmers’ market. What are other CFPs making and selling? What do you make that is not available?
  • Take a food safety class. 
    • The University of Minnesota Extension’s Cottage Food Producer Food Safety course is available online or in-person. You will meet the training requirements to register as a Minnesota Cottage Food Producer. The course focuses on food safety practices for all processes covered under the cottage food law including drying, baking, confections, jams and jellies, acid and acidified fruit and vegetables and fermentation. You will learn how to produce, package, label, store and transport a safe product. Register here.  
  • No food license or inspection is required but all cottage food producers are required to register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture annually. Visit their site to register.
  • Stay informed. Sign up for the University of Minnesota Extension Cottage Food Connection eNews here.

Got questions? Get answers online:
Contact info for Suzanne:, 320.203.6057

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  1. Thank you for this tip. It's very helpful

  2. Bearing in mind the low entrance costs that are characteristic of cottage food business models, it is clear why it has attractive laws. It also saves you from experiencing the risks and failures of opening a store.