Special Report: Texas Cottage Food Law

Special Report: Texas Cottage Food Law

TYLER (KYYTX) - There's nothing like the smell of home-baked goods in the kitchen. Baking is a hobby for a lot of people. But for some, it's a way to cash in. Home bakers can now turn a profit under the new Texas Cottage Law.

But, here's the catch, cottage operations aren't inspected by local health departments, like commercial restaurants and bakeries are.

The Texas Cottage Law or "Texas Bakers' Law" went into effect last year. It allows people, like you and me, to sell certain home-baked foods. That includes certain cookies, pies, cakes, breads and jellies and jams that don't need to be refrigerated.

One woman in Tyler who runs a bakery out of her home. For her, it's a way to make extra money. But, the health district wants us all to be careful before we buy.

"I braid it. Then, you do an egg wash. Well, you let it rise for 45 minutes and then you do an egg wash, and then your toppings and bake."

Emily Haynes and her daughters run Applecat Bakery out of their small home kitchen in Tyler.

Emily's daughter, Erin, came up with the name.

"She just said, mom, one day we're going to have a bakery in New York City. She was three years old."

Almost 13 years later, this mother-daughter duo is baking bread almost every day.

"We just laugh and have fun together." says daughter Erin. "And, it's really a fun family thing."

It may not be New York City, but Emily says her East Texas customers are helping her family get by, one loaf at a time.

Kelly Hayes is one of them.

"Home-baked bread means just so much more because there's a lot of love and everything that goes into it." she says.

"We're just another family right now in America struggling and doing what we can." says Emily.

It's a time-consuming process Emily took up after her and her husband lost their full-time jobs.

"This is a way to survive for us."

Under the Texas Cottage Law, Emily is allowed to make up to $50,000 per year selling baked goods from home. But, she has to sell them from her home.

"Then you get to see the source, just like when you walk into a restaurant. If you look around and you don't like the look of the restaurant, then you can leave."

Brenda Elrod is director of environmental health for the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

"It's just a whole new avenue of food vending that we haven't had to contend with over the years because in the past, it was considered illegal."

She worries about safety issues in a home that's not regularly inspected.

"It boils down to the people, the space, and the food product. And, of course, people being the most important because they've got to know what they're doing."

Emily says she knows what she's doing. And if you don't believe her, you can see for yourself.

"Come on in. This is my home, this is your home."

She says she follows all the food handling rules by constantly washing her hands and her dishes. And, she doesn't own pets. Emily says safety is a priority.

"It's made with love. And... I'm going to cry... I love people."

"You can get warm bread from a bakery, but it's like commercialized. This is home." says Hayes. 

"We're working whatever job is given to us. And, they happen to be all part time, but we make it. You know, God is good and His grace is sufficient." says Emily.

There's a push in this legislature to allow bakers to sell outside their homes at places like farmer's markets and festivals.

It also calls for an expanded list of approved foods, like cereal, popcorn, pickles, and dried fruit, to name a few.

Elrod worries that more leniency could mean more potential health problems. But, in the end, it's up to all of us to know what we're buying and who we're buying it from.

Emily and her daughter specialize in challuh bread, but they also bake sourdough and sandwich breads.

Applecat Bakery:

Phone: 903-707-3376

Text: 203-721-4429



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