Home Business Questions

annalynn
@annalynn
01/31/16 04:06:42PM
17 posts

Hi All,

In doing research with starting a home business as a chocolatier, I learned, in California, I won't be able to do it because of a law that was passed in 2013. Basically, if I am going to sell something that is not cooked and made with cream, butter, etc., I won't be able to make it from home and sell it to the public. I can, however, make caramel and sell those.

This leads me to my question(s):

1. If you're from California, or know of someone who is, what route have you/they taken to pursue this business?

2. If you hire a kitchen (typically per hour), how have you structured production?

3. If you've got tips or suggestions, I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,

Annalynn

Jim Dutton
@jim-dutton
01/31/16 10:43:15PM
76 posts

This seems like a quite strict interpretation of the law; are you certain that ganache-filled chocolates are excluded?  I think in most states they are permitted under the "cottage food" laws.  Of course everything is eventually perishable, but it takes a long time for a chocolate to mold.  You might want to check the website forager.com, a site that is dedicated solely to cottage food laws in the U.S.  There are sections on that site specifically dealing with each state, and you can post a question.  In dealings with my own state, I found there is a lot of misinformation about the laws.

annalynn
@annalynn
01/31/16 10:48:13PM
17 posts

Thanks, Jim. I'll definitely check it out. I was speaking with an employee with the county to obtain my permit and she provided me with the information.

annalynn
@annalynn
01/31/16 10:51:37PM
17 posts

Please see attached file; I'd love to get your interpretation.

Jim Dutton
@jim-dutton
02/01/16 08:56:41AM
76 posts

It looks as if the California law is stricter than the one we have in Virginia.  Instead of "Candy, such as brittle and toffee," ours just says "candy."  Another part of the list here allows for "baked goods that do not require time or temperature control after preparation"--showing the intent of the law to protect the public from items such as custards that spoil easily.  It would seem that you could make nut centers (such as gianduja), caramel, fondant-based fillings, probably butter ganaches (which opens up lots of possibilities), but nothing with cream (which, of course, eliminates most ganaches).

By the way, I misspelled the website that I mentioned previously; it's forrager.com.  And here is another site I found that has "fleshed out" the California regulations a little more:  http://www.theselc.org/cottage_food_law_faq -- it has a link to a form where you can request an addition to the list of approved foods (you could specifically ask about cream ganaches).

annalynn
@annalynn
02/01/16 09:33:45PM
17 posts

Thanks, @jim-dutton. I managed to find someone who is willing to share her process with me and she hires a kitchen. I found another person and I'm waiting to hear from them because it seems they produce truffles (with cream) from their home. Hiring a kitchen by myself seems so cumbersome, especially when you have to make a ganache, have to let it set, etc...

I also have another chocolatier friend who is trying to convince me to move to Boston. I'm not sure I want to go that route. Wink Yet? Laugh

Jim Dutton
@jim-dutton
02/01/16 09:53:03PM
76 posts

Glad you are thinking of various possibilities.  I agree that renting space in a professional kitchen and making chocolates there is a major pain.  Be sure and check out the Mass. cottage food laws before you consider moving.  I lived in Boston for 50 years--there is a lot of regulation there.

annalynn
@annalynn
02/01/16 09:56:39PM
17 posts

I don't think I'll be leaving the Bay anytime soon. It's home and where my family is. Happy

Powell and Jones
@powell-and-jones
02/01/16 10:40:54PM
30 posts

California like most States doesn't allow dairy containing foods unless prepared in a commercial facility and refrigerated as needed.  It's technically a slight grey area from a food microbiology position, but nearly all simple dairy + chocolate ganache formulations will have a Water Activity (aW) >0.85 which puts them firmly as 'potentially hazardous foods' (PHF) as described in the Federal and most State food regulations (the later typically adopt the Federal rules as State code) 

We chocolatiers often tweak recipes to reduce aW in an effort increase shelf life without adverse effects on favour/texture.   Chocolate ganache with an aW <0.7 made in sanitary conditions stored at 12C can last at least 8 weeks or longer, as most spoilage organisms and more importantly pathogenic bacteria don't grow under these conditions

However, the food safety regulations only consider that at an aW >0.85 both food spoiling microrganisms and any pathogenic bacteria present can and will grow if the product is held at room temp during it's shelf life, providing a significant risk of food born illness. Dairy including fresh milk, cream even if UHT are regarded as high risk components in filled chocolates, hence not allowed in Cottage / home produced products.

Caramel, toffee, dipped marshmallows, dried fruit, nuts, and fondant will have an aW <0.7 or lower as does a typical chocolate bar.... Thus they  are considered low(er) risk (non-PHF) and often allowed to be made and sold outside of commercially regulated food production facilities i.e.  Cottage / Home producers.

I also note the California home food rule doesn't require liability insurance for producers of 'home foods'.  Risky,  one bad batch of ganache and a food born illness claim could leave you living in a tent as you have to sell your home to cover the legal bill! 

My tips for you:

1. Find a good clean commercial kitchen, you will need a space you can use for production with approved materials, and also store the finished goods there.

2. Get trained / upto speed regarding the food safety aspects and regulation.   Review City, County, State rules and if you do any internet sales also the Federal rules as they will also impact your business.

3. Take out a decent liability insurance policy, which is typically needed in any event if you want to sell at farmer's markets or other public events and totally required if you do 'indirect sales' (no retailer or broker will take your produce without this)

Making the stuff is the relatively easy part, turning the hobby or interest into a legal, safe and viable business takes real effort and expertise.

Good Luck

annalynn
@annalynn
02/01/16 10:46:20PM
17 posts

Thanks! And, please feel free to keep them coming. I'm learning so much.

Powell and Jones
@powell-and-jones
02/01/16 11:20:31PM
30 posts

[quote="annalynn"] Thanks! And, please feel free to keep them coming. I'm learning so much.

Two way street!     How about coming back in a while and sharing what you have learnt?  Or are you really just expecting to get spoon fed? (free consulting)   Think you will find several expert folks here happy to answer some questions, but few are likely willing to dish all their knowledge and secrets gained from training, study and time in the trenches.  

annalynn
@annalynn
02/02/16 01:49:31AM
17 posts

I'm not looking to be "spoon fed." I thought this was a good forum to send out feelers. I'm more than happy to share!

The chocolatiers I've met thus far have been very welcoming, warm, friendly, and helpful, which is a huge reason I decided to go down this path. I've also spoken with some people who have decided to step away, so getting different people's perspective is always welcomed.

Tags

Member Marketplace


Activity

Xocol855
 
@xocol855 • last year
Created a new forum topic:
slaviolette
 
@slaviolette • 2 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new discussion "Cost of goods produced":
"Hi Everyone, Been a long time member but I have not been in in a few years, the fact is that I had to close down my small chocolate business.. but now is..."
chocolatelover123
 
@chocolatelover123 • 3 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new forum topic:
New Chocolate Brand - "Palette"
Marita Lores
 
Marita Lores
 
Vercruysse Geert
 
Vercruysse Geert