Contact Us

Moscow

College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Agricultural Sciences Bldg.
Phone: (208) 885-6681
Fax: (208) 885-6654
ag@uidaho.edu

Mailing Address:
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Boise

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
322 E. Front Street
Boise, ID 83702
phone: (208) 334-2999
toll free: (866) 264-7384
fax: (208) 364-4035

www.uidaho.edu/boise
boise@uidaho.edu

Coeur d'Alene

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
1031 N. Academic Way, Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814-2277
phone: (208) 667-2588
toll free: (888) 208-2268
fax: (208) 664-1272

www.uidaho.edu/cda
cdactr@uidaho.edu

 

Idaho Falls

College of 
Agricultural & Life Sciences
University of Idaho
1776 Science Center Dr., Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho  83402
phone: (208) 282-7900
fax: (208) 282-7929

www.uidaho.edu/idahofalls
ui-if@if.uidaho.edu

 

The Food Technology Center shares grounds with the UI Caldwell Research and Extension Center.

Fostering Food

UI’s Food Technology Center is a one-stop shop for getting started selling edibles

BY MARY ANN REESE
PHOTOS BY MATT LEITHOLT

It sounds almost too good to be true. Whether you’re a chef looking to package a popular soup for sale or a home cook wanting to sell Grandma’s prune-and-nut bread—or chutneys, condiments, jams or frozen burrito wraps—at a farmer’s market, the University of Idaho not only helps you learn how to do it, it also has a kitchen you can use to meet state and federal safety standards.

UI offers a one-day seminar, “Developing Your Food Product Idea: A Blueprint for Pre-Venture and Startup Food Companies,” several times a year for $100.

Once you’ve taken the course, you’re eligible to rent—on a sliding scale—the university’s Food Technology Center (FTC) commercial kitchen, with its thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. Its 150-gallon steam kettle can make enough salsa to fill 150 dozen-jar cases in a day. A filling machine with a foot pedal can handle 5,000 small jars or bottles a day. There’s a 40-quart food processor, a 60-quart Hobart mixer, a Universal Labeler, a shrink tunnel for speed-wrapping safety plastic melted around bottle tops, and much more.

“Probably only a couple kitchens in the country offer what we do,” said kitchen supervisor Cini Baumhoff. Baumhoff and FTC director Josh Bevan help clients with everything from product development and testing, processing and packaging, and analytical testing and making nutritional labels, to training employees and staging food demonstrations and conferences.

For many people wanting to sell prepared foods, the cost of setting up or renting kitchen space that meets safety standards can be prohibitive. “An individual can make and package a product here for $250 for three or four days’ use of the kitchen, compared to $2,000 at a comparable commercial facility,” Baumhoff said.

As for trends among their 40 to 60 clients a year, “The last few years have seen more inquiries about gluten-free food,” Baumhoff said. “Now, perhaps a side-effect of the locavore movement, there’s a lot more interest in fresh or cold-pack processing—things like hummus.”

The 7,000-square-foot FTC shares grounds with the UI Caldwell Research and Extension Center and Agri-Business Incubator.

Adjacent temperature-controlled metal bays have helped wineries trim expenses as they start up.

“I don’t know of any other state that offers these services for both wine and food in one location,” said James Toomey, director of the Agri-Business Incubator. “Together, clients can collaborate, learn from each other and expand their ideas.”

Because UI expects this facility to be self-supporting, the food kitchen probably wouldn’t be viable without the help of some $200,000 a year generated by the adjacent pilot plant where staff contract to do research and development, Good Laboratory Practice studies, and food quality and safety analysis with large food manufacturers and agrichemical companies including J.R. Simplot Co., Novozymes, DuPont, Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta.

The Food Technology Center is under the leadership of the UI-WSU School of Food Science in Moscow and Pullman.
» Food Technology Center website

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