Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys...Or Maybe So

Monday afternoon I called the Tulsa County Health Department and spoke with a woman who could not have been less helpful. Here's the summary of our conversation:

Me: Hi, I was wanting to get some information about selling homemade food products.
HD Lady: Well, you can't sell food items you make at home.
Me: (Already having read a lot online I pretty much already knew this, but she wasn't offering up any information.) Ok, then what do I need to do to sell homemade food products?
HD Lady: You have to get a license and make them in a licensed commercial kitchen.
Me: Aren't most churches licensed commercial kitchens?
HD Lady: No
Me: Oooooook. What does it take to get a license?
HD Lady: $350
Me: (starting to get a bit smart with her) So, it's that easy, huh? Anything else I should know?
HD Lady: If you find a kitchen that's licensed you'll also need a sales tax permit and we can give you a license.
Me: (thinking to myself that she has been even less helpful than the shlew of info I found on the web) Thanks.

After my underwhelming amount of help and info she gave me, I had an idea. I live in Wagoner County, I'm calling the Wagoner County Health Department. It was here that I talked to Robert, who was a WEALTH of information. We spoke for a long time, then he gave me the name of the low acid canning expert (did you know there was such a person in Wagoner County? Me either!). Eddy Lockhart was my savior. He told me everything (and more) that I needed to know. And then he gave me the name of Dr. McGlynn at the Oklahoma State's Food & Agricultural Products Center. I waited until today to call him.

OSU? Really? I've heard you can send your food there and they will test it and can tell you all sorts of scientific funness about it, but what I didn't know is that I would actually get to speak with Dr. McGlynn himself! He wasn't just a legend, or an answering machine. He was a real live, talking, breathing, informative man! And I got to talk to him. As I sat in the parking lot of Old Time Pottery, while Zoey played with my sunroof, I jotted down the notes that the good doctor told me. He was incredibly helpful (unlike Tulsa HD lady!). He told me that he has only seen a couple salsas ever not quality as "shelf stable". And those salsas were dumb. OK, he didn't say that, but they were filled with corn and black beans, which shouldn't even be given the name "salsa", yet I digress. He said if it is a "normal" salsa and doesn't have anything unusual in it, then it will be shelf stable. YIPEE!!!! At last I find someone with an answer!

The good doctor went on to tell me that if I wanted them to sample it, they could test to see what category it fell under. Huh? Category? Like "Good Salsa" or "Not Good Enough To Be Called Salsa Salsa"?? It seems the FDA is picky. And certain papers must be filed and certain records must be kept if your salsa is unlucky enough to fall into that category. Wow...really, FDA? Really?! (Why do I feel like it's just another way to cover themselves from stupid lawsuits?) I also asked the good doctor if the process of canning my salsa (since canning involves boiling it) would change the taste. He said it was possible. Gulp! He said that we didn't have to can it, that we could sell it as a refrigerated item to preserve the freshness. NOW we're gettin' somewhere. I asked him how long after it's made will it stay good in the refrigerator and do you want to know what he said?? If you consult the FDA's website about refrigeration periods, you have to look at a chart, find your ingredient and kind of guess what your recipe falls under. It suggests a week. And you know what the good doctor told me? 30-60 days! He said it's not going to grow anything in the fridge that would make you sick! I love this man.

So, mommas...maybe it IS okay to let your babies grow up to be Cowboys. They grow up and help us Sooners figure out the shelf life of a jar of salsa! Wonderful. I am going to send the good doctor my salsa and my recipe and have it tested. Even if I don't ever end up selling it to some mass producer, how cool will it be to know exactly what's going on with my lovely jar of deliciousness! Thank you, Dr. rock!!

And an update on my Zoey status. We made our chocolatey chip choochie today. See what you think!

If you know nothing about Twilight, like me, this choochie cake is for a girl who loves the movie and will be going to see the new next movie in the series, "New Moon".

And I'm going to post some pictures of some other snacks I've made recently.

These (above) are my cake balls. I cover them in either white or milk chocolate, then drizzle milk and dark chocolate over the white chocolate covered ones and white and dark chocolate over the milk chocolate covered ones. So far, these things have been a HUGE hit. Probably because the average Betty Crocker makes them with canned icing. Barf! I make mine with homemade icing and I think it makes a huge difference. But then again, I am an icing nazi. I roll my eyes about these little boogers, but they are starting to grow on me. In fact, I'm glad people are buying them because I can't keep them in the house. They're way too easy to eat!

And these beautiful babies are my chocolate covered oreos with crushed peppermint on top, pure heaven in a little bite!

THIS, my friends, is why I have to work out every day. Because when I make these little treats, the chef has to taste test for quality! Maybe I'll send Dr. McGlynn some.

Until next time. Mwah!

1 comment:

  1. That was a lot of helpful info! Sometimes you have to jump through hoops just to get straight answers!!!