legal Fermented Hot Sauces | Why even try, right?

Will keep this simple: 
 
Lots of folks are a fan of my lacto-fermented hot sauce. 
 
Having a bit of experience with "further processed" meat products, charcuterie, HAACP plans and the like, should I even allow my interest to be piqued about bottling and selling my home-fermented hot sauces? 
 
I'm based in Los Angeles and the LA County Cottage food laws don't specify yes/no on fermented foods. They mention pH allowances so thought, "maybe I could sneak it in there", but... 
 
So, does anyone know if I should even get excited about "going legit" or should I keep bartering my salt-n-peppers? 
 
Thanks! 
 

salsalady

Business Member
There are lots of small batch fermented food companies.  We have one here in our tiny little Methow valley that makes and sells different krauts.  There's another kraut company in Olympia, WA that markets over here in our little backwoods Methow valley.  I saw a show on a company in california that makes fermented habanero (and other chiles) sauces.  5 gallon buckets, they are legit.  It was one of those 'how it's made' shows and I think you can find it on youtube.  I did a quick search, didn't find the one that I was looking for.
 
Going legit will probably entail you getting your own kitchen space where the ferments can hang out an be happy and not get in the way of restaurant staff,  but also because they will be hanging out on the kitchen counter, they will need to be secure from anyone messing with them. 
 
It depends on where your passion is.  Do you love it enough to go for it? weekends at the farmers markets, week nights in the kitchen processing after the 9-5 job?  How does the rest of the family feel about your totally awesome sauce?
 
This might help~
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/66094-starting-a-food-business-101/
 
Generally, hot sauces do not fall under cottage industry rules, and I 'think' fermented foods are the same.  It's not as simple as immersing cucumbers in vinegar=pickles.  There is processing involved to keep the ferment safe, etc. 
 
Hopefully others will chime in, and maybe someone can find that habanero sriracha video. 
 
Best of luck, you'll figure it out. 
 
:welcome: to THP!
salsalady
 
salsalady said:
There are lots of small batch fermented food companies.  We have one here in our tiny little Methow valley that makes and sells different krauts.  There's another kraut company in Olympia, WA that markets over here in our little backwoods Methow valley.  I saw a show on a company in california that makes fermented habanero (and other chiles) sauces.  5 gallon buckets, they are legit.  It was one of those 'how it's made' shows and I think you can find it on youtube.  I did a quick search, didn't find the one that I was looking for.
 
Going legit will probably entail you getting your own kitchen space where the ferments can hang out an be happy and not get in the way of restaurant staff,  but also because they will be hanging out on the kitchen counter, they will need to be secure from anyone messing with them. 
 
It depends on where your passion is.  Do you love it enough to go for it? weekends at the farmers markets, week nights in the kitchen processing after the 9-5 job?  How does the rest of the family feel about your totally awesome sauce?
 
This might help~
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/66094-starting-a-food-business-101/
 
Generally, hot sauces do not fall under cottage industry rules, and I 'think' fermented foods are the same.  It's not as simple as immersing cucumbers in vinegar=pickles.  There is processing involved to keep the ferment safe, etc. 
 
Hopefully others will chime in, and maybe someone can find that habanero sriracha video. 
 
Best of luck, you'll figure it out. 
 
:welcome: to THP!
salsalady
 
salsalady said:
There are lots of small batch fermented food companies.  We have one here in our tiny little Methow valley that makes and sells different krauts.  There's another kraut company in Olympia, WA that markets over here in our little backwoods Methow valley.  I saw a show on a company in california that makes fermented habanero (and other chiles) sauces.  5 gallon buckets, they are legit.  It was one of those 'how it's made' shows and I think you can find it on youtube.  I did a quick search, didn't find the one that I was looking for.
 
Going legit will probably entail you getting your own kitchen space where the ferments can hang out an be happy and not get in the way of restaurant staff,  but also because they will be hanging out on the kitchen counter, they will need to be secure from anyone messing with them. 
 
It depends on where your passion is.  Do you love it enough to go for it? weekends at the farmers markets, week nights in the kitchen processing after the 9-5 job?  How does the rest of the family feel about your totally awesome sauce?
 
This might help~
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/66094-starting-a-food-business-101/
 
Generally, hot sauces do not fall under cottage industry rules, and I 'think' fermented foods are the same.  It's not as simple as immersing cucumbers in vinegar=pickles.  There is processing involved to keep the ferment safe, etc. 
 
Hopefully others will chime in, and maybe someone can find that habanero sriracha video. 
 
Best of luck, you'll figure it out. 
 
:welcome: to THP!
salsalady
 
Thank you for this reply! 
 
I'll start out, before I forget: I've heard of the Methow Valley! Earlier this year via this audio ecologists recording from the Methow Valley: https://soundescapes.libsyn.com/6-cold-lake-amphitheater Sounds(!) like a lovely place. 
 
OK, back to peppers...
 
There's encouraging news in this! I'll do a search for the fermented hot sauce company video. 
 
In regard to the "how legit", "how's everyone feel", etc... I won't call myself a farmer's market veteran, but, in 2016 and 2017 while living and working on a pasture based livestock farm, I made and sold bacon as well as other further processed foods. At this point, I'm merely seeing if I could squeeze it into the cottage kitchen laws of LA.
 
The only hope I'm holding out for is the following that's found in the California Retail Food Code: 
 
Universal Citation: CA Health & Safety Code § 113871 (through 2013 Leg Sess)
  
(a) “Potentially hazardous food” means a food that requires time or temperature control to limit pathogenic micro-organism growth or toxin formation.
 
(b) “Potentially hazardous food” includes a food of animal origin that is raw or heat-treated, a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes that are not modified to render them unable to support pathogenic micro-organism growth or toxin formation, and garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not acidified or otherwise modified at a food processing plant in a way that results in mixtures that do not support growth or toxin formation as specified under subdivision (a).
 
(c) “Potentially hazardous food” does not include any of the following:
 
(1) A food with an aw value of 0.85 or less.
 
(2) A food with a pH level of 4.6 or below when measured at 75°F.
 
Thanks again for the reply! 
 

salsalady

Business Member
NECM, not the one I was looking for. I did see this one. The video I was looking for is a how it's made type show for a company, pretty sure it was in California, but that could be wrong.

That particular show also did a bit on Danny Cash's business.
 
LA county might not specify, but the CA Dept Public Health doesn't give much latitude for hot sauce as a cottage food. Here's the list of approved cottage foods:
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/CottageFoodOperations.aspx

They specifically call out peppers as low acid foods of concern: " For example, addition of peppers (i.e. jalapeno pepper) to make pepper jelly is not supported by 21 CFR 150 and the addition of this low acid ingredient could cause the formation of botulism toxin in the product if the proper controls are not used."

I know that fermentation lowers pH, but now you are in a situation where you have to demonstrate/document that you are processing to acceptable standards.

There is an application to add a food to the cottage food list. Might be an uphill battle for hot sauce though.
 
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