Artisan Producers, Chefs, Craftsmanship, Farming, Foodshed, Healdsburg, HomeFarm

Introducing the SHED Pantry Line

We’re excited to announce the launch of the SHED pantry line, featuring a proprietary collection of powders, salt blends, herbs and spices, preserves, pickles, and Shrub concentrates drawn from the best ingredients prepared just as we do in our Healdsburg café.

Coming to fruition under the direction of SHED chef Perry Hoffman, plans for the Pantry Line predate SHED and its café. SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel knew that she wanted to do this before our doors even opened.

“It’s always been a dream of Cindy’s and really, it just makes so much sense,” Perry says. “It really came from the concept of utilizing the pantry that we use to cook from in the café.”

SHED Powders

A distillation of flavor, the SHED powders are a unique finishing touch that pack a punch. Available in one-ounce bottles, they are the essential taste of the vegetables from which they’re made.

Dehydrated in our own kitchens and then pulverized before being mixed with Jacobsen Salt, these powders are intended to be used just before serving to add a strong note to your good fresh food.

“I’ve been using powders for 16 years,” Perry says. “The tradition really comes from fine dining. They’re amazing flavor enhancers. When you dehydrate produce, you concentrated the flavor of that element.”

Perry likes the Charred Eggplant Powder sprinkled atop a bowl of yogurt with fresh chopped mint. He mixes it into vinaigrettes, and hails it as his “love letter” to the baba ganoush dip he adored as a child.

The Tarragon Caper Powder is a nod to traditional French cuisine, adding a note of elegance perfect for using to finish sauces. “Capers and tarragon are two ingredients that are made for each other,” Perry says.

The Niçoise Olive Powder is purposefully not powdered entirely. “We leave this a bit chunkier and just smash them into little crumbles because we love those little bits of dried olives,” Perry says.

The Shiitake Mushroom Powder is a “flavor builder,” Perry says, referring to its role adding umami to any dish. “Add it to a little bit of chicken stock and soy sauce and you’ve got this amazing stock that will add flavor to anything. It’s all about intensifying flavors.”

One in every 100 Padron peppers is hot, so eating them has an element of chance. Dehydrating and then powdering them for our Padron Pepper Powder guarantees that its sweetness will be tempered by a bit of heat. “When you combine them,” Perry says, “you get an incredibly wonderful, earthy powder.”

The Smoked Onion Powder features sweet onions and adds a gorgeous element of onion flavor to everything it touches. “Mix it into sour cream,” Perry suggests, “and you have a dip.”

SHED Salt Blends

SHED’s blends use Jacobsen Salt as a base and add unusual flavors to create finishing salts you’ll always want to reach for.

An incredibly versatile and popular offering, Lemon Salt can be sprinkled liberally atop roasted potatoes and fish. For dessert, try a pinch with vanilla ice cream.

Utilizing an increasingly popular Japanese culinary herb, our Red Shiso Salt is perfect for bringing a fresh taste to a salad before serving or for sprinkling upon fish.

“As a chef, you have the opportunity to cook this way because you have Shiso and you have salt,” Perry explains. “Home cooks don’t necessarily have that option. This is a way of being able to capture those flavors in a jar and be close to the same outcome.”

Made for chicken and perfect for lamb, pork loin, and other roasts, the Rosemary and Wild Fennel Salt is, Perry says simply, “a natural love affair.”

Normally not one to play favorites, Perry confesses that his favorite of the new line is the Black Lime Salt, which has a distinctly Californian take on a traditional Middle Eastern flavor profile. Limes are salted and soaked before being dried and pulverized, bringing an intensity to this salt.

“The wonderful aromatic flavors of lime are very dominant, so this becomes a umami flavor enhancer,” Perry says. He suggests pairing the Black Lime Salt with the Shitake Powder for a umami powerhouse. “If you were to add those two to your broth, it would be very full-bodied.”

SHED Shrubs

A drinking vinegar born from the need to use all of the harvest, the Shrub has recently come back into favor. And thank goodness for that.

Shrubs are the centerpiece of the Fermentation Bar in our Healdsburg store and our flavors always change to match the season. This new collection of essential Shrub flavors is just the start; we’ll be certain to add more as the harvest wanes and new herbs, fruits, and flowers become available.

Available in 12-ounce bottles, SHED Shrub concentrates form the base for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink but can just as easily be made with Prosecco or other lightly bubbly wines.

Whether Quince, Apple, Beet, or Grape — each SHED Shrub concentrate is made from organic ingredients raised by farmers we know or even foraged by Chef Perry himself.

What’s more, his technique for creating this concentrate hasn’t change. For a few hundred years. “We do this just as they would have in the 1800s,” Perry says.

Preserves and Honey

Having fresh jam made with local fruit is a hallmark of the SHED café and our pantry. A devoted home cook, Cindy has always spent part of her summer putting up preserves. Now you can share in some of our good fortune and bounty. Each jar is made of pure organic or even foraged fruit set with cane sugar and a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s all.

SHED honey is raised in Sonoma County by beekeepers who respect their hives and the hard-working insects inside of them. SHED subscribes to the idea that we don’t keep bees — the bees keep us, as one-third of all the food that we eat is made possible by pollinators.

Pickled Vegetables

Fermentation is a core value at SHED. “We pickle everything. It was so hard to even choose what to put in the jar,” Perry says.

Perry loves eggplant but it doesn’t pickle well, so he made a gorgeous chunky Roasted Eggplant Conserva from it. He encourages us to use it as a chutney. “Yogurt is the most wonderful platform for it,” he enthuses. “It’s such a match made in heaven.”

Packed like the Conserva in 13.5-ounce jars, our Pickled Carrots are flavored with dill leaves, jalapeños, and black peppercorns; the Pickled Turnips with bay leaf, beets, and garlic. Both of them are perfect additions to supper, laid out on a relish plate to contribute bite and interest to a simple meal.

Also jarred up for a pre-dinner pickle plate are our Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Roasted Eggplant Conserva, and Turmeric Pickled Turnips.

Herbs & Spices

With this Pantry line-up, SHED is also proud to release its own line of herbs and spices, adding traditional everyday spices like cinnamon to a line-up of offerings that include the Middle Eastern flavors of Harissa, Zahtar, and Vadouvan. We have other unusual mixes like Shichimi Togarashi, Japanese Curry Powder, and Chinese Five Spice. Our own line of Dukka is already a best-selling staple. We even have six kinds of peppercorn!

Just the Start

SHED’s Pantry line is an effort to preserve the peak flavors of the season by pickling, preserving, fermenting, smoking, and drying ingredients to make jams, pickles, shrubs, spice blends, and powders.  It’s an attempt to better tell the story of good farming, good cooking, and good eating.

“We want to take all of the behind-the-scenes things that we make and showcase them,” Perry says.

“There are so many things that we have to make to stock our own pantry. The powders are a perfect example of that.  We want to show what we make, and how we use these products to flavor and enhance our cooking,” he says.

“And how you might share in that.”

Preserve the Season

Drying Herbs and Fruit

Drying herbs and fruit is the easiest method of preserving flavor for months to come.

Drying Herbs

Herbs that dry particularly well and retain their flavor include rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, lemon verbena, bay, rose geranium, oregano, marjoram, myrtle, savory, and flowering dill and fennel heads.

The best time to harvest herbs is in the early morning after the dew has evaporated, which helps to minimize wilting. When handling, avoid bruising the leaves, and wash only when necessary.

To prepare for hanging, strip the leaves off the lower third of the stems and gather a handful of equal-sized stems into a small bouquet. Tie the bouquet tightly with a length of kitchen twine and knot the loose ends of the twine together to make a loop. Hang the herbs in a warm spot with plenty of ventilation, out of direct sun.

Made in New Hampshire by Shaker craftsmen, our lightweight wood drying rack provides ample space for preserving herbs and flowers. Come into our Healdsburg store and let us show you how it works.

herbs, herb rack

Most herbs will dry within a week or so, and will keep for up to one year, although they will become less potent with time. Store dried leaves and seeds in glass jars, away from light.

Read more about lavender lore and get some sweet ideas for using lavender in the kitchen.

Sun-Drying Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit or vegetables are usually dried on a flat surface such as racks or trays covered with cheesecloth or in a specially designed solar dryer (shown in photo above) to protect the food from the vagaries of wind, insects, and birds.

Apples, berries, cherries, figs, tomatoes, persimmons, and peaches take well to sun-drying methods. Vegetables well-suited for sun-drying include eggplant, onions, and sweet peppers.

Due to higher sugar and acidity levels, fruit tends to keep a higher percentage of its vitamin content and flavor when drying.

To prepare foods for drying, begin by washing the fruit and coring it, if needed. For drying, fruits can be cut in half or sliced. Thin, uniform, peeled slices dry the fastest. The peel can be left on the fruit, but unpeeled fruit takes the longer to dry. Place the pieces on a flat surface, careful they don’t touch or overlap.

To dry fruits out-of-doors hot, dry, breezy days are best. A minimum temperature of 85ºF is needed with higher temperatures being better. It can take several days to dry foods out-of-doors.

High humidity in the South is a problem for drying fruits out-of-doors. A humidity below 60 percent is best. If these ideal conditions are not available when the fruit ripens, other alternatives such as using an oven or electrical dehydrator to dry the food are needed.

Fruits dried out-of-doors should be covered or brought under shelter at night. The cool night air condenses and could add moisture back to the food, thus slowing down the drying process.

Once foods are dried, store in glass jars with tight fitting lids in a cool, dark place.

Dried foods can be eaten as is or reconstituted with water.

Enjoy!

Meet the Gradek brothers, Healdsburg neighbors who specialize in sun-drying the peach harvest.

Farming

Growing Herbs

It’s almost impossible to imagine cooking without fresh herbs, and all herbs taste best when grown and harvested from your own garden. Fortunately, herbs are relatively easy to grow with six to eight hours of daily sun, well-drained soil, and compost.

Herb Basics

Before you begin growing herbs, it helps to know that the great majority of them fall into two major categories: perennials, herbs that live for more than two seasons; and annuals, those herbs that live for only one season.

When you begin, it’s also helpful to choose herbs that are generally easy to grow. In California, these include the sun-loving perennials: rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, summer savory, French tarragon, and chives. All originated in Europe, and with the exception of chives, require relatively small amounts of water and need little compost unless grown in sandy soils. These perennials are widely available at most local nurseries from spring through early fall.

Annual herbs, such as basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley, are also easily grown, but will need to be planted every spring in rich soil; most of these can easily be sown from seed.

Site

Gardeners in cold-winter areas will do best to plant in the spring or early summer; here in Northern California, you are able to plant all but basil and other tender plants through the fall. Choosing the right location is the most important requirement for growing herbs. Most prefer full sun as long as regular summer temperatures don’t rise above 90 degrees farenheit. If you have very warm summers, consider planting in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, or where the plants will receive filtered light (such as under a tree that allows some light to pass through). Before planting, check the area several times during the day to make sure that there are at least six hours of sun.

Preparing the Soil

Good drainage is key to growing healthy herbs. If your site is compacted, use a large garden fork to loosen the soil; this allows water to drain and creates space for plant roots to reach down. Depending on your soil, you might add an inch or more compost, mixing it into the top six inches of soil, to help prevent drainage problems and add fertility to the garden.

Planting Herbs

Select healthy, strong plants and provide approximately one to four feet in diameter of space for each plant to grow, depending on the plant. Here are some general guidelines for plant sizes:

• 3-4 feet – rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram

• 2 feet – basils, thyme, tarragon, savory

• 1 foot – cilantro, chives, dill, parsley

Keep the new plants moist for the first week or so. Slowly start letting the plants get a little drier between waterings. Use your judgment: If it’s very hot or windy, or if the plants start to wilt, water more often.

After a few weeks when your herbs have taken root, a watering schedule will become established. Most herbs like to be watered as soon as the soil located a couple of inches below the surface is dry to the touch. Since temperatures and humidity cause drying times to vary every week, you must check the soil often. Do not over-water. More water is not better and can lead to diseases or just poor growing conditions for your herbs, which will result in reduced growth.

Harvesting

For harvesting, you simply cut off about one-third of the branches when the plant reaches at least 6-8″ tall. By cutting close to a leaf intersection, your plants will re-grow very quickly. Some plants, such as parsley, grow new leaves from their center. In this case, the oldest branches need to be completely removed, leaving the new tiny branches growing from the center. This becomes clearer as you watch your plants grow and mature.

Preserving Herbs

Fresh herbs are best in many cases, but since most herbs are not available year around, cooks have learned ways to preserve the flavor. The best way to preserve them depends on the herb. As a rule, the dense, small-leafed, woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and savory dry best, while the fleshy, larger leaves — such as basils, tarragon, and sage — can be made into pestos or chopped into butters and frozen. Most herbs are suitable for preserving in vinegar or oil.

References: A very useful book for beginners who want to learn about growing and cooking with herbs is Rosalind Creasy’s The Edible Herb Garden.