Ethnic Variety in CA’s Cottage Food Law

Flag_of_Mexico_svgAspiring business owners of all cultures and all cuisines can participate as Cottage Food Operators by making their own traditional varieties within approved food groups. California’s Cottage Food law honors the Mexican cultural influence in particular by specifically permitting certain Latino foods or variations.

Among the baked goods that the CA Homemade Food Act explicitly approved are tortillas and churros.  Tortillas, made from flour or corn, are part of the staples of Mexican cuisine.  They date back to 10,000 BC but were popularized throughout California by the missionaries.  The versatility of tortillas for soft burritos, tacos, enchiladas, etc. mean they are often favored over bread.  In addition, their low fat content make tortillas a healthier choice for many calorie-conscious consumers.

And who doesn’t love churros?  Those mouth-watering cinnamon treats, when baked not fried, qualify for churros.wikimediacommonsa homemade cottage food product!  Plus you can always find a jar of chocolate sauce or dulce de leche for guilt-free dipping with all the calories that are saved by baking them to crispy brown goodness.

Fruit tamales and fruit empanadas can also be made and sold through Cottage Food Operations.  These sturdy foods are easily packed and sold at community events without too much trouble (being somewhat  gentle with the empanadas!).  And while pineapple tamales and apple empanadas may be the best known, recipes for other tempting flavors also exist, like strawberry tamales or empanadas made with banana, blackberry and strawberry, pineapple, even guava or pumpkin (who knew pumpkin was a fruit?!).  (Note: some recipes may need to be adapted to be classified as non potentially hazardous.)

Even mole paste (pronounced moh-lay) is listed as a product approved for CFOs in California.  What a great idea!  Mole poblana may be the best known of all mole varieties (in fact, it’s been called the “national dish” of Mexico), with its characteristic chili peppers and chocolate, but other varieties of mole exist, too.  Oaxaca, Mexico is often called “the land of the seven moles.”  Roasted, dried chilies and ingredients ground to powder and reconstituted into pastes can create mole colors ranging from smoked-oaxacan-mole-saucebrownish-red to bright green, red, yellow or black each with a distinctive taste.  What a great opportunity to develop a home-based business and introduce more Californians to new mole flavors and recipes to try.

According to 2011 US Census Bureau estimates, 38% of The Golden State’s total population is Hispanic/Latinos.  And, with California having the highest total number of Latinos of any U.S. state, we at San Diego Cottage Foods are glad to see the legislature thought to definitively include Mexican heritage foods in the Homemade Food Bill.  We hope that it encourages more Latinos, and Latino food lovers, to start their own Cottage Food Operations!


    • Eden Rosal on February 21, 2014 at 10:35 am
    • Reply

    I am planning to sell my homemade loompya at farmers market. Can you help me where to start and waht are the rules and regulations when it comes to homemade products?.

    1. Loompya is not listed on the CA Cottage Food Approved Food list so you would have to rent (or have access to) a San Diego Health Department inspected kitchen and most likely need a caterer’s license. We are not very familiar with regulations outside of the Cottage Food Permit laws. For more information you should contact either the Farmer’s Market Manager or the San Diego Environmental Health Department — Food Division.

    • Nicolas Tirado on September 18, 2018 at 9:12 pm
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    Im going open a snack container in dowtown i want to sell tacos and burritos its theres a way i have to make them to be approved cottage food?

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