If you go
What: Food Safety Training for Cottage Food Vendors
When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. June 25
Where: Boulder County Extension Office, Boulder County Fairgrounds, Longmont
Reservations: Google cottage food training Longmont or call Anne Zander at 303-678-6238. Classes are also available in Golden and Aurora
Maybe you have a recipe for your grandmother's toffee or a killer strawberry jam. You go to sleep at night imagining your product lined up in a neat row on the grocer's shelf.
But how to get there?
While Whole Foods, Alfalfa's Market, Lucky's Markets and other local stores sometimes take new, locally produced food items, they must be prepared in a commercial kitchen and have a nutrition label before consideration. However, some would-be food entrepreneurs are not quite that far along on their path. With those folks in mind, the Colorado legislature passed the Cottage Food Act in 2012, allowing the direct-to-consumer sales from home kitchens of certain types of cakes, cookies, candy, dried herbs, honey, jams and jellies.
To be certified under the act, would-be bakers must take a safety course. Previously, the only course available was ServSafe, offered by the National Restaurant Association. However, staffers at the Colorado State Extension have been working on a curriculum and are now offering classes geared specifically for those working in their home kitchens. The classes will be offered in Longmont, Golden and Aurora
"It's a way different environment from a restaurant, grocery store or deli area," says Anne Zander of the Extension. "It's not a commercial kitchen. It's a home kitchen."
As such, special care must be taken. Pets must be kept out of the kitchen, for example. If your dog comes and drinks from his bowl in the kitchen, the floor must be cleaned using a disinfectant cleaner and the bowl removed, along with Fido.
Likewise, children should be kept out until the food prep is complete and if the cook has contact with his or her brood, hands must be carefully washed.
"We talk about sanitation," Zander says, "and where you might see cross-contamination."
Allergens are an important component, as well. For example, a seller is not allowed to claim that products are gluten free unless the kitchen is completely gluten free. That's because for those with celiac disease, even a few particles of gluten can cause a reaction. The same is true of peanuts and tree nuts.
While most people are aware of these allergies, Zander says less common allergies may also pop up. For example, an allergy to strawberries. If you make strawberry jam and don't get the pan completely clean when you switch to peach, a person with a strawberry allergy could have a reaction.
The law allows people to sell baked goods and candy that don't require refrigeration, as well as jellies and jams made from acidic fruits such as strawberries and peaches. Less acidic recipes such as that great pepper jelly your aunt makes are not permitted. That's because the deadly botulism toxin can multiply in non-acidic canned foods.
Zander says the training is important, because it protects both the consumer and the vendor.
One of the people taking the class will be 12-year-old Jasey Chanders, who sells baked goods to her neighbors in the Nyland Cohousing community.
Her mother, Kiki, who will take the class with her, says Jasey is happy where her business is now but wants to investigate what the next steps might be.
"Part of that is the Cottage Food law. You have to take a food safety class," she says.
Jasey's goods are made without gluten, dairy or refined sugar, and she will learn the proper way to label them in the class, among other things.
While her family doesn't have problems with gluten, like any good entrepreneur Jasey knows her market.
"I'm not gluten-free, dairy-free anything, but most of my neighbors are," she says.
Jasey, who was named top young entrepreneur in the region in a competition sponsored by Ersnt & Young in Denver, sells about two 9- by 13-inch pans of goods every week during Nyland's CSA pickup. She makes different types of cookies and cakes, many with chocolate. One of her favorites is a cake made with white beans, a touch of honey, eggs and a bit of coconut flour.
"It's really good. It's so healthy. I eat it for breakfast a lot," she says.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at 303-473-1335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.