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Home > Food from Farm to Table > Food Safety > Minnesota Food Code Fact Sheets > Pickle Bill Fact Sheet

Pickle Bill Fact Sheet

This fact sheet addresses legislation, also known as the “Pickle Bill,” that allows the limited sale of certain home-processed and home-canned foods (M.S. Chapter 28A.15 Subd.10).

What special precautions do I need to take in making home-canned and home-processed food under this exemption?

  • Home-canned and home-processed food must have an equilibrium pH value of 4.6 or lower. (See attachment A for information on pH and acidity.)
  • A sign or placard must be placed at the point of sale which states:
    • These canned goods are homemade and not subject to state inspection.
  • Each food container must be labeled with:
    • Name and address of the person who processed and canned the food.
    • Date of food processing and canning.
  • Persons producing and selling these products are urged to:
    • Successfully complete a better process school recognized by the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture.
    • Have the recipe and manufacturing process reviewed by a person knowledgeable in the food canning industry and recognized by the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture as a process authority.
    • Have documentation of the formulation (recipe) and the equilibrium pH results available when requested by regulatory authorities.

What types of home-processed and home-canned products are allowed?

  • Pickles, vegetables or fruits
  • Specific examples of products that may be allowed:
    • sweet or dill pickles, tomatoes, salsa, apples, cherries, grapes, plums, peaches, flavored vinegars, and naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles and Kim Chi (a Korean style of fermented vegetables) as long as the equilibrium pH is 4.6 or less.

What types of home-processed and home-canned products are not allowed?

  • Foods that are not pickles, vegetables or fruits.
  • Foods that have an equilibrium pH of greater than 4.6.
  • Fish, pickled eggs, and meat even if the product's equilibrium pH is 4.6 or less.
  • Specific examples of home canned and home-processed foods that are NOT allowed
    • Peas, green beans, beets, sweet corn, carrots etc that processed by either the use of a boiling water bath or by the use of a home pressure cooker or any other means unless the equilibrium pH is 4.6 or less

How much home-processed and home-canned food can I sell?

  • Up to $5,000 per year.

Where can I sell my home-canned and home-processed food?

  • Farmers markets
  • Community Events
  • Social Events

Where can’t I sell my home-canned and home-processed food?

  • Consignment Shops
  • Private craft shows or for-profit events
  • To other businesses for resale
  • On the internet
  • Across state lines
  • From the home

Additional Information

The following links provide information on home processing and home canning:

Attachment A

What is pH?

pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity using a numerical scale between 1 and 14. A pH value of 1 is most acidic, a pH value of 7 is neutral and values above 7 are referred to as basic or alkaline.

How is pH measured?

  • Electronic pH meters are very accurate and pocket sized units are available for around $100.
  • Paper strips are NOT accurate enough to measure acidity of home-canned and home-processed foods.

What is equilibrium pH?

  • The pH of a food product after the food acid (e.g. vinegar) is distributed equally throughout the product.
  • For example, the initial pH of the pickled cucumber that has been recently canned, will not be the same a few weeks later. It takes time for the vinegar (which is acid) to penetrate and distribute into the cucumbers. Therefore, testing the pH of only the brine (liquid) portion of a recently canned and processed product is not accurate.

How do you determine a product’s equilibrium pH?

  • For foods canned and processed less than 2 months:
    • Food sample need to be finely ground in a blender prior to pH testing.
  • For foods with a process date greater than 2 months:
    • pH may be taken of the brine only since all contents of the canned product should be in equilibrium.

Who can test for pH?

  • The person that processed the food as long as they are s capable of performing an accurate pH test.
    • When testing, follow the same recipe and procedures for each batch of food to be tested.
    • A separate pH test is required for each different product offered for sale under this exemption
  • Private laboratory

Examples of pH for different foods

  • Dill pickles (pH 2.6-3.8)
  • Tomatoes (pH 3.7-4.9)
  • Distilled water (pH 7)
  • Garlic (pH 5.3-6.3)

Where can I find pH values for common foods?

MDA Contact

Dairy & Food Inspection Division