I started out last year writing my blog and soon after went on to open an on-line bakery. Before opening the on-line store I did what I thought was “research” to find out if I could bake and sell from my home. It was challenging finding resources that directly said “yay” or “nay” to baking from home. I researched dessert forums and even went to my state Department of Agriculture’s website. Trying to find out the rules of engagement for baking from home on The Department of Agriculture’s website was akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack. I went back to the dessert forums and even asked a few bakers and others in the small food industry and no one could really give me any clear cut answers. Finally I took the following steps and hope that my journey will help you avoid the mistakes that I made.
Myth 1: Dessert forums provide valuable answers: As I stated above, I didn’t find any concrete information on the forums I visited in my search. Instead of continuing to wade through forum posts that had answers that varied from state to state, I finally called my state’s Department of Agriculture and was referred to my regional office.
Myth 2: You can bake from home and sell at local farmer’s markets: Once I contacted my regional office I was told that I could not bake from home and sell for profit–anywhere, including farmer’s markets. The gentleman’s exact words were “If you want to sell a bushel of bananas, you can sell them, but as soon as you peel the banana, you must be in a commercial kitchen.” In a nutshell, the only way I could bake from my home was if I were donating the desserts to a non-profit. I thought to myself, I want a viable baking business so this is not going to work. I even inquired about the items that I didn’t bake, like marshmallows & pralines which are essentially candy and was told it didn’t matter. My heart sank. Why? Because I knew the cost of baking in a commercial kitchen was pricey.
Okay now for some good news!
Truth 1: There are some states that do allow you to bake from home: During my journey I discovered there are 11 states that allow you to bake or have a food business from home. A great resource to learn if you are located in one of these states can be found on Denay Davis’s site. Denay is a cottage food industry expert and her site provides valuable resources to those wanting to start a home based bakery.
Truth 2: There are alternatives to paying for an expensive commercial kitchen: Even though I took my on-line bakery down, I haven’t lost hope. I did find out there are culinary incubators or shared kitchens in my area and I am doing further research to determine if this is a viable option for me. You can click here to find out where the culinary incubators are in your area.