Wa Cottage Food Law

Business By ShannonDavie Updated 7 Jan 2015 , 7:41am by CakesbyKelsey

ShannonDavie Posted 27 Feb 2013 , 12:59am
post #1 of 53

I did a quick search and didn't see any posts so I hope I am not asking a redundant question. I am pretty new to cake decorating but have decided to give it a go because I love it so much and being a stay at home mom I want something I can do at home. That being said I have been trying to get together my application for a cottage food permit and have some questions about what ingredients I can put in my cakes. It states that commercially bought fruits and veggies or products made from fruits and veggies are not permisible. My understanding was that they just dont want food that would need refrigeration. Does this mean that I can not use pureed strawberry in my strawberry cake or strawberry frosting? I also usually make carrot cake from scratch so no carrots or pineapple? As far as I know these ingredients do not make the cake perishable so would they be permitted?



Thanks in advance!    

52 replies
experimenting Posted 1 Mar 2013 , 12:42am
post #2 of 53

I got my CFO permit approved recently from WA state. I don't know how much the rules vary between counties, but I can tell you what I know from my county (Thurston). Pureed strawberry is not ok to put directly on your baked goods, such as between layers of a cake. However, you can put fruit in your batter. My banana and carrot cake recipes, which I put fresh bananas and carrots in, were approved because the bananas and carrots will be cooked. As long as there is a cook step, fresh fruit and veges are fine. I don't think it's okay for your frosting though, as there is no cook step, but I can't say that with 100% certainty. I would ask your regional manager to be sure. The Dept. of Ag. should tell you who yours is - it might even be in your packet. Mine was very helpful with all my questions and very prompt in returning my messages.

Hope this helps and good luck!

ShannonDavie Posted 1 Mar 2013 , 6:28am
post #3 of 53

Thank you for the help! I have actually talked to the regional manager before but I'm afraid of annoying him with a million questions! If you don't mind my asking how do you do your strawberry frosting or cream cheese frostings? I was thinking of trying Cooks strawberry extract and Lorann's cream cheese emulsion. Not sure it will be quite the right flavor though.

Thanks again!!

experimenting Posted 1 Mar 2013 , 6:20pm
post #4 of 53

The people of CC have been so helpful to me that I'm more than happy to help someone else out for a change icon_smile.gif

I didn't want to risk annoying my regional manager either, even though he was quite nice. I compiled as many questions as I could before each call to him vs. calling after each question that came up. 


I have some frostings that are flavored with fruit oils or extracts. I do have a mango buttercream that contains mango puree that was approved. For that one, I believe their rule for being shelf stable is that it needs to either have a cook step or be a certain % sugar (60%?). The same goes for cream cheese frosting. It just needs to have enough sugar in it. When you're calculating it, you have to remember to subtract the cornstarch from the weight of the powdered sugar. I can't remember the exact numbers right now, but it might be in your application packet. You can also put that on your list of questions to ask your regional manager the next time you talk to him icon_wink.gif

ShannonDavie Posted 2 Mar 2013 , 3:37am
post #5 of 53

You have been so very helpful! Thank you again...I really appreciate it icon_smile.gif

DanaG21 Posted 2 Mar 2013 , 4:07am
post #6 of 53

Experimenting - Did you get cream cheese frosting approved? 

experimenting Posted 2 Mar 2013 , 9:33pm
post #7 of 53

You're welcome ShannonDavie icon_smile.gif


DanaG21: I did not submit cream cheese frosting for approval. I did ask about it though and they would've approved it as long as the recipe had a high enough sugar content.


Other items that they may not approve according to their rules of being shelf stable, you can send it out to a lab to be tested to show that it will be shelf stable. 


Another piece of advice: The law is still pretty new here in WA and not everyone is on the same page. The lady reviewing my application made at least 2 mistakes during her first round of review. I challenged both. The first was not approving my ganache. The second was that I submitted a list of possible items that might be added to any order, including gel pastes and gum paste. She said that I needed to submit every possible combination there might be instead of just listing them on a separate page. I did this for adding nuts and/or chocolate chips to my cake recipes, but to submit every possible permutation of the other options I might add to decorate a cake with would require me to submit over 2000 recipes. I asked my regional manager about this before my initial submission, and he told me that I could just submit these extra ingredients on a separate piece of paper. I called him to clarify and he cleared it up for me. I guess the advice here is to get a second opinion if you feel something just doesn't make sense icon_confused.gif 

The inspectors vary also in how they conduct their inspections. Don't let someone tell you that it's easy peasy and all he'll do is make sure you don't lick your fingers. Some might be that way, but others (like mine) might be a lot more thorough. 

ladyonzlake Posted 2 Apr 2013 , 2:12am
post #8 of 53

I've been working on my ingredient labels and recipes...this is such a daunting task.  I've been working on it for a couple of months now...there's just so many varibles with cakes.  I've been renting a commercial kitchen and getting licensed was soooo easy although it's a more expensive way to go.   I just wish it wasn't so complicated!

ShannonDavie Posted 2 Apr 2013 , 2:40am
post #9 of 53

I know what you mean! I am still working on mine but I think I am just about ready to submit mine! I just have to print off about 500 pages worth of recipes labels and equipment lists :) Fingers crossed once I submit that I don't have to change too much!

Rosie2 Posted 3 Apr 2013 , 6:16pm
post #10 of 53

Thanks to all of you for this info. I also live in th St of WA and I've been putting off filling up an application since I do cakes as a hobby and I'm not sure if I'm going to stop liking the cake-hobby if I start doing it as a business. Does anyone have any input?

ladyonzlake Posted 4 Apr 2013 , 6:36pm
post #11 of 53

Hi Rosie2,  


If you can get through all of the paper work for the cottage law this would be the least expensive way to go and figure out if you want to pursue this on a more serious level.  The cost for a health permit (in King County) is about $600.00 for renting  commercial kitchen and then there's the cost of the kitchen.  I also have liability insurance which I will keep regardless of which way I go.   I participated in a bridal show at a local venue recently and they asked for proof of insurance.   Insurance is $500.00 for the year.

ShannonDavie Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 3:31pm
post #12 of 53

So frustrated right now! I am in the review process right now and I just learned that they are not going to approve my chocolate ganache recipes. Has anyone who went through the process had luck getting ganache approved. They said it is considered tempered chocolate so that is why they can not approve it. The other problem I have is SMBC. I thought it would be ok as long as I used pasteurized eggs but they will not approve those either. Did anyone have any luck with SMBC? Oh yeah and RKT? For goodness sakes I was like a raving lunatic last night looking at all the items they said they were not going to approve. Sooo incredibly frustrating!!!


Thank you!

experimenting Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 4:20pm
post #13 of 53

I got both my ganache and SMBC approved. My primary reviewer did not approve my ganache at first. I was her first CFO review. She consulted with someone else and ended up approving it. I used pasteurized egg whites for my SMBC. This was through Thurston County. What county are you in?

ShannonDavie Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 4:48pm
post #14 of 53

I am in Clark county. I am about to submit my changes so I am going to challange the ganache and SMBC and see what she says. It's good to know that someone else in the state was able to get them approved at least! 

Rosie2 Posted 30 Jul 2013 , 10:59pm
post #15 of 53

Anyone from King County that have gone through the paperwork?

nikkinl Posted 3 Aug 2013 , 6:55am
post #16 of 53

AIs all the paperwork and restrictions really worth it? I'm on the fence about doing it as a business but getting an llc seems like to much $ right now.

MimiFix Posted 3 Aug 2013 , 5:06pm
post #17 of 53
Originally Posted by nikkinl 

Is all the paperwork and restrictions really worth it? I'm on the fence about doing it as a business but getting an llc seems like to much $ right now.

Sending you a PM.

BatterUpCake Posted 3 Aug 2013 , 10:00pm
post #18 of 53
Originally Posted by nikkinl 

Is all the paperwork and restrictions really worth it? I'm on the fence about doing it as a business but getting an llc seems like to much $ right now.

My LLC was only $100

ShannonDavie Posted 7 Aug 2013 , 6:02am
post #19 of 53

Experimenting - would you mind telling me is your SMBC just a standard recipe? They are trying to tell me I need to have a 3/1 sugar to dairy ratio in order for them to approve it and I just don't see how I can get there with SMBC. Also is your ganache just chocolate and whipping cream or do you add anything to it? I tried challenging my reviewer and she is not budging. I think I am just going to have to go around her at this point. 


Thank you!!

experimenting Posted 7 Aug 2013 , 7:12pm
post #20 of 53

My SMBC is: 

3/4 cup pasteurized egg whites

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 lb 2 oz unsalted butter


And yes, my ganache is just chocolate and cream using a 2:1 ratio for dark and 3:1 ratio for white.


I wonder if it's just a difference between the counties? It's still pretty new to WA. Did you try asking your regional manager? I asked mine when I didn't agree with what my reviewer said :) I say definitely get a 2nd and 3rd opinion.


Good luck!

ShannonDavie Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 12:41am
post #21 of 53

Thank you so much for you help!! I actually did try the regional manager today and he is now telling me the same thing as my reviewer :( He said that there have been some changes to the review process and they are no longer allowing ganache. I am now waiting to hear back from him if it is possible to get my ganache lab tested. I am not sure where to go from here on the SMBC though because there is no way I can get to a 3:1 ratio of sugar to dairy without compromising the taste. I was told that each recipe would need to get lab tested and I don't really want to pay to get 14 recipes tested! 

experimenting Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 7:50pm
post #22 of 53

Oh no! I wonder if my ganache will stay approved during my renewal. That blows! I thought it was 60% sugar, which isn't quite 3:1. Another place to ask questions is the Washington State Cottage Food facebook page:




Felicia Hill runs the page. She's responsible for getting the Cottage Food Law passed in WA and was the first to get approved for a permit.

experimenting Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 9:18pm
post #23 of 53

I just posted on the fb page about what you were told about ganache. She said she hadn't heard of this and will look into it.

forjenns Posted 8 Aug 2013 , 9:54pm
post #24 of 53

I'm in Snohomish and watching this thread.

ShannonDavie Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 1:26am
post #25 of 53

You are awesome!! Thank you! I will let you know if I hear back from my regional manager as well. He never responded to my last email asking about having my ganache lab tested. 

Smallfrye Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 2:32am
post #26 of 53

Here is a link to recipes that were tested and approved to be shelf stable in Texas for their cottage food law. I think if you can show them that they were already tested they should be allowed here in WA as well. But you will have to check to be sure. It has a cream cheese frosting recipe on the list.



ShannonDavie Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 3:27pm
post #27 of 53

Thank you Smallfrye. I actually found that link and thought about trying that as well. It's worth a shot but I am guessing that they are going to want me to have my own testing done. I did actually manage to get my cream cheese recipe approved already which is the Earlene's cream cheese recipe that is on that link. I don't think that other recipe that is on there for cream cheese frosting would be approved because it is similar to the one I submitted originally and was told it needed more sugar. I found Earlene's recipe and used that and it was approved. The only thing that stinks about it is that it is so sweet I can't even really tell it's supposed to be cream cheese frosting! My husband and kids like it so I guess it's not too bad!

Smallfrye Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 5:35pm
post #28 of 53

I'm curious to find out if it varies from one person to the next on who is approving the recipes. I wonder if they have a set formula that they are using. I keep seeing posts about how some get recipes approved and others don't get similar ones approved. Which makes it more confusing for those of us that are still working on our recipes. I would think that it would make sense to let us use recipes that other states cottage food laws have already tested. It would take the guess work out of it for them approving some of the recipes.

BatterUpCake Posted 9 Aug 2013 , 5:59pm
post #29 of 53

Yes..It has to have a low PH and aw (water) level. If the aw level in VA is below .92 it can be any PH level and still be NPH food (not potentially hazardous). I'm sure it is similiar in most states

ShannonDavie Posted 5 Sep 2013 , 9:43pm
post #30 of 53

This whole process has been so difficult and feels like it has taken forever. I just got my 3rd email from my reviewer with corrections to make. This time it at least seems like it may be the end of them however they are just refusing to approve SMBC if it does not meet a 3:1 sugar to dairy ratio. I can't get mine there without replacing the butter with shortening and I would rather not use it than do that. Experimenting - I'm not sure what the review process is like but you may have a hard time getting your recipes approved when it comes to that time! I hope you don't! I really want to keep fighting with them on the SMBC but I just want to get this business going already so I am going to let it go for now and maybe revisit later. Still haven't heard on ganache but was lead to believe that as long as I had it at 3:1 for both white and milk chocolate that it would get approved. I will let you know what happens with that...though it takes about a month between submissions before I get any answers! Sorry can you tell I'm a bit frustrated?!


A little advise for anyone who may be going through this process: really watch your labels and recipe. Make sure they match exactly. If your recipe says unsalted butter make sure the label does as well. Same with flour if it is cake flour it needs to say so in both places. For some reason I did a bad job with this and had to make a ton of corrections!

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