Thursday, January 21, 2016


So I'm looking into selling Sauerkraut and thought maybe I should check out the legality of it first (potentially mistake #1 - Ask permission first.)  So here's how it's gone so far...  
(Hint: The Government = Department of making you sad!)
I'm wondering if it is legal to sell home made sauerkraut and pickles.  If no, 1) what are the health concerns that make it so? 2) Can I give it away?  My family and I eat it on a regular basis and I was curious.
Thank you,


No, those items would not qualify for either a home bakery or a cottage food exemption and therefore must be made in a commercial kitchen which adheres to good manufacturing practices to ensure proper sanitation. Because of the process involved, FDA may have special guidelines for producing these types of products (sauerkraut and pickles) depending on how they are produced.

The law doesn’t prohibit anyone from giving food away.

Thanks for your inquiry.

(Gov't employee),
Aside from not being in the home, what are the requirements for a commercial kitchen?
Thank you,

(Gov't employee),
I just did some research and located a commercial kitchen for rent in LOCAL TOWN 30 MINUTES AWAY.  If I were to use this facility, what other requirements would your office have? 
Also, do you have a contact for me at the FDA, or should I send an e-mail over to their general contact box?
Thank you again,



You will need to contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at the information below and they should be able to help you.  If you still have questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Ohio Dept. of Agriculture Food Safety
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Phone: (614) 728-6250

(Gov't Employee) 

Well I left it at that and decided to contact the department of agriculture.  (Can somebody explain to me why in the world the department of agriculture is dictating to me how I should process veggies that I buy from somebody else?)  Here's how it went:

I have been referred to you by the Hancock County Board of Health.  I am trying to determine what is required before I can legally sell fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and pickles.  As this does not fall under the cottage industry regulations, the only requirement I have been able to determine so far is the use of a commercial kitchen to prepare the veggies. 
If you can help me to understand what will be required in addition to this, I would very much appreciate it! 
Thank you for your time,

You will need a facility that is inspected by the Division of Food Safety and complies with Good Manufacturing Practices ( ).  There will be a registration fee based on the size of your facility.



Division of Food Safety
Ohio Department of Agriculture

 I was planning on renting time in a local commercial kitchen to process the veggies.  Is this the facility you are referring to?
Thank you,

That should work as long as it is inspected by the Division of Food Safety.

So now I'm left to wonder how to interpret all of the legal lingo in those codes mentioned above... 

On a side note, I have officially given away my first quart of pickles... I'm told she will donate $10 to the cause... 

1/2 Qt left after offering it to everyone I could find...

Anyway, it appears I need to find a commercial kitchen nearby and possibly get in touch with a lawyer and tax accountant!  This could be fun...

Update!  02-02-2016

 Sorry, I'm a little behind right now... anyway, last Friday I had a good conversation with a guy we'll call Daniel.  He's a food safety supervisor for the Ohio department of agriculture.  I got an e-mail from him asking me to call him... I expected a Ben Stein like personality, but was surprised to speak with a level headed real person!  He took a good bit of time to explain to me all the little catches and gotcha's I might run into, and it seemed I was on the right track.  We talked about the need for a commercial kitchen and what the requirements are to have one approved...

Here's what I gathered in terms of requirements for a commercial kitchen:
  • A 3 bin sink to wash stuff (not sure what is special about the number 3)
  • A sink to wash your hands that you can turn off and on without using your hands.
  • So much light per square foot...
  • A surface to work on that can be cleaned (doesn't catch dirt)
  • Screens on the windows, doors that don't let dirt in... common sense stuff.
  • If it's on well water, the water has to be tested once a year for bacteria..
Here's the big one...
  • A plumbing permit: if the drain from the sinks goes to a septic field, you need the approval of the county to tie in first... <sigh>  (I doubt that would ever fly... and I'm afraid to ask in case they come out and inspect and find something wrong!) 
    • This is stupid... the amount of water that we'd use could easily be stored in a rain barrel and be used to water the garden!

There's one last hope... if I can find a nearby commercial kitchen that is already approved, I can do it there... now I just need to go find a kitchen that will let me rent/use some space!

We'll see how things go... if we can prove it out in the back of somebodies kitchen, we may attempt to build a shed in the backyard and get it approved... it's a thought...

I gave somebody a quart of pickles the other day, with the understanding that she'd donate $10 to the cause... I guess it really was too good to be true...

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