Starting a Business with Your Home Freeze Dryer

We’ve gotten a few notes lately from Harvest Right customers who used their home freeze dryer to start a business. Freeze-dried food is in high demand on the market for several reasons:

  • People want portable, lightweight meals and snacks for travel, hiking and boating, and busy evenings
  • Health-conscious individuals want quick meals with no additives or chemicals
  • Pet owners are looking for healthy, safe treats and whole foods for their pets
  • Kids (and adults) enjoy the novelty of freeze dried desserts and snacks
  • Some foods, like ice cream, yogurt, and even gummy bears are unique and people love trying them
  • Families want a way to ensure elderly parents have access to nutritious food they can easily prepare themselves
freeze dried fruit in jars

Freeze dried apples are a great snack for hikers, post-gym workouts, and afterschool nibbles.

Freeze-dried yogurt drops

Check your state’s Cottage Food Laws (also called Home Food Processing laws or Baker’s Bills) to see if you can qualify for a food sales retail license using your home kitchen. If you can, you can use your home freeze dryer to make and sell healthy snacks, freeze dried entrees and ingredients, freeze dried desserts and treats, lightweight, portable camping and hiking food, and even freeze-dried instant coffee using gourmet coffee flavors.

an omelet

If you’d like to make freeze-dried homemade pet food, regulations are little different. Explore the Association of American Feed Control Officials website to learn more.

Using your Harvest Right home freeze dryer is an excellent way to fund your purchase and start a home-based business. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit, you’re only limited by your imagination!

Comments

We had this idea and quickly realized the FDA regulations are extremely strict for freeze dried products and cottage laws in our state of PA did not apply to freeze dried food.

So does that mean you can sell FD products in PA without license?
Curious as a fellow Pa resident and own a FD myself. I have thought about selling some product to ppl but unsure what all is needed to do so

I’m a fellow PA resident. I called my local health board and the lady could not find any laws pertaining to FD foods.

My wife and i are also in Pa looking to sell freeze dried food from our homestead. Is there any more information you can share ?

It’s considered a “commercial” process, so lots of standards must be met, including food safety training, etc.

A “Cottage Food production Operation” is not permitted to process acidified foods, low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or not potentially hazardous foods not listed above. Low acid food means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85. Acidified food means a low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans, cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.). Potentially hazardous food means it requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheesecakes, pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.). Freeze-drying is not permitted as a “Cottage Food Production Operation”.
A “Cottage Food production Operation” is not permitted to process acidified foods, low-acid canned foods, potentially hazardous foods or not potentially hazardous foods not listed above. Low acid food means any food with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85. Acidified food means a low acid food to which acids or acid foods are added (Ex. Beans, cucumbers, cabbage, puddings, etc.). Potentially hazardous food means it requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms (Ex. Raw or cooked animal products, cooked vegetables, garlic in oil, cheesecakes, pumpkin pies, custard pies, cream pies, etc.). Freeze-drying is not permitted as a cottage food.

https://agri.ohio.gov/divisions/food-safety/resources/cottage-food

Texas cottage laws do not include meat as a home based product for sale. Meat is under Federal regulation they say. Can anyone tell me where to find these regulations for freeze dried meat sales for home based businesses?

What about to sell online? My local gov guys said if we get a cottage license we then could not sell online…

The state of Florida has new cottage laws passes by Governor Desantis . You may sell your products not to exceed $250,000.00. Per year. Great law and I, am waiting on my freeze dryer to arrive

Note that the new Florida Cottage law only applies to a very limited list of foods, most of which aren’t very freeze-dry friendly (although there are some):

– Loaf breads, rolls, biscuits
– Cakes, pastries and cookies
– Candies and confections
– Honey
– Jams, jellies and preserves
– Fruit pies and dried fruits
– Dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures
– Homemade pasta
– Cereals, trail mixes and granola
– Coated or uncoated nuts
– Vinegar and flavored vinegars
– Popcorn and popcorn balls

https://www.fdacs.gov/Business-Services/Food/Food-Establishments/Cottage-Foods

There also might be additional federal laws that apply – do your homework.

I have a small ( mom and pop) licensed food business and am working with local and state authorities to sell freeze dried foods of all types. There are no federal laws regarding in state commerce as far as I know. The FDA guidelines are that and they may or may not be adopted by the state authority. The USDA does have authority regarding sales across state lines but is only interested in grading not inspecting for cleanliness or pathogens.
That said, my state does not understand freeze drying process officially (yet I am working on this) and lumps it into many other forms of food process (mostly for restaurants serving foods) but very little for other food processing other than to say no unless you have a license outside of basic cottage laws.
Utah has many resellers of FD foods, so I am working that resource also for information.
ROP (Reduced Oxygen Packaging) seems to be the issue. Most ROP processes are not like putting in an Oxygen absorber into a mylar bag after being freeze dried so there lies the confusion in the governments eye, I think.
We need to put in the effort to educate and document the safety of the FD process to any authority that has jurisdiction over our area. I am not looking to go cross state I am just a small store in the middle of nowhere WI wanting to make a living, so I am not an expert in anyway.

Hi Sam,

Where did you find this law. I am in desperate need of advice. I have been selling freeze dried candies since August and today I received a call from Dept of Agriculture telling me i could not sell Freeze Dried candy out of my home since it takes the oxygen out of the candy. They stated it doesn’t fall under the cottage law. We know many place’s here in FL that sell out of their home.

It’s interesting that they said freeze drying removes the oxygen from the candy. It removes the water, but there’s still oxygen, that’s why we need to add oxygen absorbers. According to the website https://www.fdacs.gov/Business-Services/Food/Food-Establishments/Cottage-Foods, you can sell candies and confections. I can’t imagine freeze drying it would alter that rule since you’re just making the candy more stable. Have you found any more information since you posted?

Joe

Hello,
I am also in Florida and ready to start a small business freezedriying. I can’t find anything about freezedriying, only dehydrating. Have you heard or do you know of anything different? I appreciate any information you can offer.

I asked the same type of questions of Tallahassee. I was hoping to get healthy snacks out there —

Here is the last response from 2/2023 —-
Freeze dried fruits will be acceptable under cottage foods so long as the end product is not placed in reduced oxygen packaging (ROP). This means placing it in any packaging whereby the oxygen is removed or replaced with another gas, or where an oxygen absorbers/scavenger is inserted into the bag.

If you elect to place your freeze dried products in an ROP environment, you would need to apply for a special process approval and would be required to submit a HACCP plan completed with supporting documentation.

Freezed dried candy can be done via cottage foods because the food is non-TCS (does not require time or temperature to control for safety) both before the freeze drying process and after it. This means there is no danger to the food and/or customer; however fruit becomes TCS (needs time or temp. To control for safety) once heated, and food is heated during the freezed drying process. Any process which renders a once TCS food non-TCS (becomes shelf stable) is considered a special process and special processes may not be performed under cottage foods.

HOPE that helps – watch for updates that will be coming to the collage laws per the state.

As an add on to my last comment. In WI you have RTE (Readt to eat foods) and they have a criteria. Next you have TCS (Time/Temperature controlled safety) foods. The TCS foods have a window of 4 hours when in the temp zone of 41-135 degrees F.
If the food is RTE AND no oxygen absorber there should (but officials are not all that interested in understanding this) not be an issue with candy FD when you think through the regulations. The problem is we are taught to add an oxygen absorber for longer shelf life.
Thinking out loud, I would think because candy is not TSC but RTE you could under cottage laws make a strong case for being able to sell these products if you did not add an oxygen absorber. Think as if you bought a 5 lb bag of skittles and brook them down to 2 oz zip bags and resell at a farmers’ market.
If I grew strawberries and sold them whole, they are RTE, if I took the same strawberries and topped them and cut them in halve, they become TCS. (4 hours outside of 41 -135-degree F)
This should be interesting working through this with the local and state folks.

No you can’t sell on line. Cottage laws only apply to non-potentially hazardous foods, you sell directly (in person) to the consumer.

According to the 2022 statute “500.80 Cottage food operations.” it reads…

“(2) A cottage food operation may sell, offer for sale, and accept payment for cottage food products over the Internet or by mail order. Such products may be delivered in person directly to the consumer, to a specific event venue, or by United States Postal Service or commercial mail delivery service.”

I’m sure all states may be different, but I believe you can sell online in your own state only. If it crosses state lines, that’s when it becomes a problem.

That’s what I can’t figure out. What license or permit needed to sell online outside of your state. Anyone have a resource for this?

Did u find out what foods that includes?
I’m in Fl also.
I’ve read the cottage law and meats are a No No. and some other foods a bit iffy?

I have the same question. The rule of thumb in the restaurant business is to triple your costs for materials to cover labor and profit. I would love to hear other input. We are looking to custom freeze dry for individuals who have material to run through our machine.

I was also thinking this would be a great way to recover some of the cost of the machine. I know that I would have been willing to take my produce to someone and pay them to freeze dry it.
Maybe charge a flat fee for people to bring their own food, already washed and prepped? Even at $25 a load, a couple of them a week would pay for your machine in about a year!

This is the info I’m looking for as well. Not interested in making and selling. Only providing the service.

The service. Does that include u
Bagging and sealing labeling and oxygen absorbers?
Time consuming as well. Will u charge for the materials and time
Taken??

I would recommend $20 dollars a pan for medium and $25 for a large. By volume, that easily covers six to eight meals a pan. I would also charge $5 for prefreeze options.

I have a question regarding the measurement of moisture content in the foods that have completed the full lyophilisation cycle. I need to include a check point that shows I’ve control over this critical point for the HACCP plan required to open a business here in the UK. Do you have any recommendations for
a) inexpensive instrumentation for this purpose
b) acceptable reading for water activity at this point

Many thanks

Do you have information for Arkansas? What if you just tried to sell it without getting the business stuff? Also, if you are using the medium as a business and using it say 6 days a week have ppl seen more wear and tear or breakdown on the machines? And it says that it beeps when it is done but does it shut off? If I’m not around and it beeps will it then continue to ruin the food?
Thanks in advance!!!

If you don’t expect to be available when the batch is ready, you can add more dry time (done when starting the machine) to keep it going until you will be available. If you happen to be available sooner than you expected, you can just end the cycle then (as long as it has already had the normal dry time for whatever you’ve got in).

And here’s a link which should be helpful for you regarding the sale of your freeze-dried goods:

https://www.uaex.uada.edu/business-communities/ced-blog/posts/2021/june/Arkansas-Food-Freedom-Act-To-Replace-Cottage-Food-Law.aspx

I’m not having any luck either. Will be making a call today to try to untangle the secrets.
It must be allowed since there is a booth at the Puyallup Fair this year selling Freeze Dried Candy

Hi. Any luck with this. We saw people at the maple valley fair as well. I would love to rent a kitchen but out here it is about 500 per month. It is out of control.

Ladies. I’m in Wa st too. Please let me know what luck you have in finding anything. Thx! I’m just starting this process.

HI, I am also in Washington stat and cannot find much useful info on freeze dried foods. Did you possibly find anything out?

I am also interested in selling freeze dried foods. Has anyone had any success finding the regulations applicable in Washington state?

North Carolina does not have a cottage food law but they do allow home-based foods and freeze-drying. You have to have a kitchen inspection and follow good manufacturing practices. On your application, you write that you are freeze-drying instead of checking off the other foods. The reason most states don’t have written laws on Freeze drying is that it is new and they haven’t addressed it yet. Until it is written into law, it is an open process.

What about Kentucky? I read somewhere we are restricted to $60k annually? WTH, how is this possible?? Why do they care how much I sell?? Any suggestions or info on this???

I’m in Missouri and cannot get direct answers when reaching out to the department of agriculture or my local health department. I’m curious if I can sell freeze dried candy in a personal space I rent in a craft store? I process the candy in my home kitchen. Any insight will be greatly appreciated. It’s candy only. However I would love to add strawberries and bananas. Thanks.

possible loophole, at least locally, don’t sell the food sell the time in the freeze dryer. The customer provides to food and you just charge ‘by the tray/load’ etc…

Idaho now only allows candy & fruit to be FD & sold under the cottage law. Meals can not be sold without a food establishment license, HACCP plan & more.

It talks about recombing and packaging dry herbs and seasoning, but not producing freeze dried herbal products. I guess it will take a phone call to get more clarity.

I found we can’t sell freezedried food including candy in New York State … anybody got a work around? Maybe charge for freeze drying and they bring the product?

need help what needs to be done to get a Ohio license to do freeze dried candy? who to talk to about this. the military has MRE’s so this should have all the information for freeze dried . Please help

I am taking a FREE MSU Cottage Food Class that should be very helpful. I am starting with Cottage Food while I try and find a commercial, I might be able to rent. I do know under Cottage Food we can do Candy, Fruits and Veggies also bakes breads. I am going to try and go bigger but right now I just need to start. I am in Michigan as well.

I’m in Washington and I’m having a heck of a time trying to figure out what is legal and what is not I have tons of people wanting fruits and vegetables as well as camping meals and such… any guidance here would greatly be appreciated. Also any guidance as to what the legal restrictions are for labeling, what exactly needs to be included on a label, safe for instance, on a package of skittles

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