Over five years ago when I first moved to the Cary, North Carolina my neighbors were telling me to visit the Raleigh Farmer’s Market conveniently located on I-40 and Lake Wheeler Road, exit 297. I was taken back by this 75 acre, modern facility providing up to 225,000 square feet of covered, climate controlled, year round retail and wholesale space. Sold were seasonal vegetable and fruits by the pound or by the bushel. There were homemade baked goods, jellies, jams, honey, and the North Carolina Seafood Restaurant serving up deep-fried Calabash-style seafood, with mounds of home fries and hush puppies.
Now at first glance I was amazed at the amount of food and the number of customers that rolled through the market that fine Saturday morning. I soon learned that North Carolina is a special state; one that possess a cottage food law and encourages home food processors to try their luck at creating unique specialties like pickled collard greens and some of the best homemade snickerdoodle cookies around.
Has anyone ever told you to sell that delicious pound cake? Have friends and family insisted you could be making extra income selling your delicious chocolate marble cupcakes? If this sounds like you, then you could be baking up profits from your kitchen. All over the country there are countless home-based bakeries delivering heavenly baked goods throughout the community.
If you are interested in starting a home bakery business, you need to know that there are many responsibilities that go with starting your home bakery. Every state is different and in some states you will first need to have a Food Regulatory Specialist/Food Compliance Officer come to your home and inspect it. In most cases the Department of Agriculture is the governing agency that will oversee your compliance inspection, however sometimes it is your local health department.
Why an inspection? Your kitchen will need to be inspected to assure that it is clean and in proper condition to produce baked goods that are suitable for human consumption. Although a license is not always required for a home-based bakery, and a separate kitchen may not be needed, you will have to comply with special conditions set down by the Department of Agriculture or your local regulatory agency.
There are currently 25 states that allow some type of home food processing, allowing you to sell baked goods/candies to the public. Operating a home-based bakery means finding your niche. Do you make a "mad" pound cake; custom cookies or a fabulous dry jerk rub? Years ago when the country was predominately rural there were many home food processors selling their jams, preserves and jellies, along with homemade breads, pastries, cakes, pies and cookies.
When I first started out in home baking the Raleigh Farmer’s Market asked home-bakers to sell their goods at the Crafters Shed away from the main market area. Today there is a special area for home-based bakers and the public is flocking to their tables. The baked goods are fresh, delicious and offer a variety not available in grocery stores.
Let there be no mistake, operating a home-based bakery is hard work. It means long hours and a commitment to quality, but for those who take on the challenge it is by far the best job ever. You set your own hours, you provide the public with delicious goods that can only be duplicated by you and for those with families they are their when the children get home from school.
The down side of the profession use to be the isolation, but there are baking forums popping up everywhere online to help bakers stay in touch with one another and support one another building a camaraderie among home-based bakers that never existed before.
Baking for a living is an honorable profession, plus Internet access offers many bakers the opportunity to sell their products online. Diane Purkey, the owner of Maine’s Cakes and Cookies, has been baking from home for more than seven years. She loves what she does and provides the public with incredible baked goods. This is also a wonderful way for those who cook for a living, e.g. personal chef’s to offer their clients a little touch of something fresh from the oven.
The next time someone suggests that you sell that apple pie or Red Velvet cake consider operating a home-based bakery. You never know where the journey will take you and today good homemade baked goods are like jobs, hard to find.
Detra “Denay” Davis of Cooking with Denay is a former home-based baker, and the author of How to Start a Home-Based Bakery Business available in bookstores and on Amazon.com. Learn more about Denay by visiting her website http://homebasedbaking.com and drop by for a chat at http://homebasedbaking.com/contact
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