Jarring and preserving jellies and jams is a popular hobby that can be turned into a business with a bit of legwork. That said, there is quite a lot that goes into taking a passion project like homemade jam recipes and turning it into a small business. Depending on your home state and its laws, you may need different types of licenses or permits to operate a jam business. Cottage industry laws also dictate what you can and cannot do from your home.
Licensing Surrounding Food Production
Depending on where you will be operating, you will need to check local zoning and food production laws, especially if you will create and distribute from your home. Some states require that you have a health certification or use a commercial kitchen to prepare your food. You will also need to get a business license and tax identification number.
Selling Homemade Jam and the Health Department
If jam jars are sealed tightly, then you should avoid most mold or bacteria growth that could otherwise occur. That being said, there are still various health department rules that need to be followed, usually on a state-by-state basis.
If you create jam in your home, for instance, then you might need to add a sticker to your product that says it has not been cleared by the health department. Other products not created out of a home will need to be registered with the county health department. These laws vary depending on your jurisdiction.
Cottage Industry Food Regulations
There are also cottage industry food regulations that you will need to follow in producing your jams and jellies. These are the state and federal regulations surrounding the production and sale of processed foods. Specialists in each state can provide additional information because it differs on a state-by-state basis.
The department of health will oversee and approve all cottage food businesses. Typically, these laws apply to individuals and not companies, but some farm-based and home-based businesses might need to adhere to the laws as well.
In many instances, you may be required to undergo a kitchen inspection, obtain a zoning permit from a local zoning department and apply for a business license. You will also need to check local rules to see if pets are or are not allowed in your home or kitchen location.
Food Safety Training
Additionally, there are cottage industry food safety trainings you will need to attend that will teach you how to produce, package, label, store and transport your jams. On top of that, there are state-based food safety training courses that you may also have to take depending on where you are planning to create your jam. Often, you can take these trainings either online or in person.
Setting Your Price
Before you begin selling homemade jam to eager consumers, you will need to make sure you set a price that makes sense. Often, this comes from determining the price of ingredients and product costs, such as jars, any machinery needed, kitchen equipment, labor, overhead, certificates, training, taxes and more.
Depending on the flavor of jam you are creating, your ingredients can range from grapes to raspberries to strawberries to blueberries. Additionally, it will also depend on whether or not you are creating a sugar-free jam or how much you want to sweeten your product. Set your costs carefully because it is much harder to raise prices at a later time once customers are used to paying a certain amount.
Sell, Sell, Sell
Once you have finalized your recipe and are ready to begin offering homemade jam for sale, you will want to make sure you properly advertise. Schedule meetings with buyers at local grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, farmers' markets and any other places where you might be able to sell your jams. This will ensure you develop name recognition and reach people who are interested in trying them.
You can also start advertising around town with flyers or creating posts on social media so people can keep an eye out for your products.
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