Bottling Great Elderberry Flavor

| 4/8/2016 11:08:00 AM

Tags: cottage food, home based business, syrups, elderberries, berries, John D Ivanko, Lisa Kivirist, Wisconsin,

Elderberry Syrup and Elderflower Cordials

Most great ideas start small. That’s how Katie and Ben Reneker, founders of the Carmel Berry Company, started out, handcrafting small batches of syrups and cordials with elderberries or elderflowers wild harvested or grown on their small farm. My wife, Lisa Kivirist, and I caught up with her during a tour of the El Pajaro Community Development Corporation’s non-profit kitchen incubator in Watsonville, California, during a book tour for our latest book, Homemade for Sale. We’re always excited when incubator kitchens are started up, fostering and supporting the next generation of food micro-entrepreneurs.

“In 2014, we planted the elderberries to see if they would actually grow where we live,” says Katie Reneker, who resides with her husband and two young kids in Carmel Valley, California.

“We were able to harvest our first flowers and berries last year and began making and selling our Elderberry Syrup and Elderflower Cordial. They’ve been a huge hit, so we’ve been working with local farmers and learning to farm ourselves so that we can have enough plants to meet the demand.”

Homemade for Sale

Like a growing number of food entrepreneurs around the country, they launched their food enterprise from their home kitchen, thanks to the California Homemade Food Act, one of the most comprehensive and entrepreneur-supportive laws of any state in the country. This “cottage food law” allows California residents to sell up to $50,000 worth of certain, state-approved, non-hazardous foods made right in their own kitchens. has the most complete summary, state by state, of current laws, plus a way to connect with and learn from other Cottage Food Operators, or CFOs.

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