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Minnesota's cottage foods thrive with new tech

Minnesota's cottage foods thrive with new tech

By Scout Nelson

In 2015, Minnesota revised its Cottage Foods law, allowing more home-based food production without a license, as long as producers meet safety standards. The law, first known as the "Pickle Bill," has led to a robust $65M industry.

Kathy Zeman, executive director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA), emphasized the importance of food safety training provided by the law. The focus is on non-potentially hazardous foods, requiring a pH of 4.6 or lower, or a water activity of .85 or below.

These include many specialty crops that are prevalent in Minnesota. Due to the complexity of measuring water activity, the University of Minnesota tested and recommended an affordable meter, the Elitech GSP-6, which meets accuracy needs when followed by a specific protocol.

Before the adoption of reliable home water activity meters like the GSP-6, many popular Minnesota quick breads were not allowed under cottage food regulations due to higher water activity levels.

With the new technology, producers can now test and adjust their recipes to comply with the law, allowing items like zucchini bread and carrot cake to be sold legally.

The MFMA provides ongoing support and resources, including free Tier 1 food safety training and water activity meter kits.

They also offer a range of free educational zoominars in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Extension and their food safety educators.

These sessions cover everything from the basics of food safety to pricing strategies and direct consumer sales.

For more information and resources on cottage foods in Minnesota, visit the MFMA's Events page at MFMA Events and their Farmers’ Market Academy page at Farmers' Market Academy.

This comprehensive approach not only enhances food safety but also supports local farmers and producers by allowing them to extend their selling season and diversify their offerings.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-fatcamera

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Categories: Minnesota, Business, General

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