FAQ

Where do you ship?

We ship to all US states and territories, as well as to Canada.

How long does shipping typically take?

We ship all orders within 2 business days, from our warehouse in Reading, Pennsylvania. If you selected free shipping, your order will arrive within 5 days of being shipped - as few as 2 days for the East Coast and as many as 5 days for the West Coast.

Why do you mostly sell whole spices?

Most of our spices are whole because whole spices keep their freshness longer and have the fewest steps between the farmers fields and your kitchen. To maximize enjoyment of spice’s flavor and aroma, buy whole spices and grind fresh (or smash in a mortar and pestle) whenever possible.

How long will my spices last?

Spices don't get better with age - the faster you use them, the better they'll taste. Generally speaking, spices provide a good aroma and flavor for about 2 years from harvest, although it depends on the spice and the part of the plant it's harvested from. Whole spices will stay fresh longer than ground spices, which really only have a shelf life of a few months before they start to degrade. 

Most supermarket spices have spent several years in transit, in warehouses, distribution centers, and on the store’s shelves, and any beautiful flavors and aromas they once had are largely a thing of the past. Commodity spices have traded hands 15+ times and most have taken YEARS (yes, years) en route to your supermarket.

We source our spices directly from partner farms, bringing them to you at peak freshness, faster, and with a longer shelf life in your kitchen.

For spices that you already have in your cabinet, a good rule of thumb is to look at the spices (Has the color faded? Are there signs of insects or mold?), smell the spices (Has it lost its aroma?), then taste a small amount (Has it lost its flavor?).

You can also check any spice jar (ours or other brands') for a "Manufacturing Date" printed on the jar or label - that'll tell you when it was packed in the jar. If you're more than a year or two from the manufacturing date, you're better off replacing them with something fresher.

How should I store my spices?

The short answer is you shouldn't! Spices are for using, not for storing. That said, we know you can't use every spice ever day, so we recommend Keeing them in a dark, dry cabinet away from the heat of the stove or direct sunglight, protected from light, heat, and humidity. We don't recommend storing spices in the fridge because condensation can build up as you take them in and out.

Are your spices gluten-free, kosher and/or organic foods?

Our spices are single origin, sourced directly from small farms around the world. Most of our spices are organically grown - some of our partner farmers are certified organic and some are not. They are harvested by hand, dried naturally and transported whole to preserve freshness. Our spices are non-irradiated and naturally free of gluten, allergens and any additives, colorings, anti-caking agents and other fillers.

Certifications are expensive - often too expensive for an independent farmer to be able to afford. As we grow, we’re working with our partner farmers to get them certifications (organic, kosher, etc.), as well a develop new capabilities (on-site grinding, growing specific types of spices) to help improve the value of their spices and allow them to get a bigger cut of the price of the final product.

What does it mean to be single origin? Are other spices single origin?

Single origin means that all of our spices are capable of being traced back to a single area of production - even a single farm or cooperative of farmers. It also means that each of our spices exhibits their own unique terroir - the environment where they’re grown imbues a unique set of flavors and smells to the spice, similar to how grapes from France produce different wines than grapes from Argentina.

Other spices are... well, from many different origins. Often times, the spices you're buying are sourced from many, many different farms from a handful of countries. High and low-quality lots are blended together for consistency and cost - and so much of the flavor is lost along the way.

How should I be cooking with spices? Do they need to be ground or toasted? How do I know how much of each spice to put in a dish?

Spices are a beautiful way of adding flavor, aroma, and color to your cooking. We like the idea of experimenting as much as possible with your spices.

You can use our spices whole or ground - but you may need to remove some of the whole spices prior to service (looking at you, cloves, allspice, cinnamon shavings cardamom, and others). If you want to grind your spices, using a coffee grinder (ideally a burr grinder, not a blade grinder), a pepper mill, or a mortar and pestle is generally the way to go. Just so you know, your grinders may smell like the spices next time you use them - which could be wonderful... or not.

Our spices also tend to be more flavorful than your regular grocery store spices. So start with a little less than your recipes recommend and taste from there.

How do you find the farms you work with?

We’re always looking for new farmers to partner with and new single origin spices to add to our lineup.

All of our partner farmers meet three criteria - we work with farmers who are....

  1. Passionate about what they’re growing in ways above and beyond the commodity market’s narrow and outdated definitions of quality
  2. Growing exceptional varietals of spices and carefully handling them to maximize flavor
  3. Are ready to become the direct exporter of their goods and cut out layers and layers of intermediaries in the process

How did you get into this? Why haven't I seen other single origin spices?

Ethan and Ori have been friends for over a decade. They started Guerrilla Ice Cream, an activist ice cream cart in the summer of 2010. They sold politically inspired ice cream flavors from a cart around NYC. Ori got 3 cavities.

After that summer, Ethan moved to England to get his Master's degree in international development and spent a few years as an aid worker in Afghanistan and the Middle East. While he was there, he was cooking with local ingredients and came across spices that were exceptional. He shared them with his chef friends on his next visit home, and they were a hit.

Ethan then visited Ori, who was working on a startup he founded in San Francisco and suggested the idea of a single origin spice company. They decided to get started - Ethan got the business off the ground with Ori supporting whenever he could. Ori joined as a co-founder about a year later, and, well, here we are.

The reason you haven't seen other single origin companies is that sourcing spices is really hard. It's much easier to just buy spices from the big commodity importers. We take responsibility for the spices as soon as they leave the farm - it's up to us to find the farmers, choose the spices, get them tested, to the airport, through customs, sterilized, tested again, packed, and into the kitchens of home cooks and chefs.

We do it because it's worth it. We get to work directly with farmers to get truly exceptional spices -  while creating a more equitable supply chain that's capable of supporting our partner farmers' livelihoods in the process. That's our mission and we're a public benefit corporation, so it's also written into our charter. 

So you're a Public Benefit Corporation? What does that mean?

Why yes, Burlap & Barrel is a public benefit corporation. That means that our social mission is written into our charter - and we're obligated to show impact and progress towards our stated public benefit.

Our public benefit is: "to promote the reduction of inequality and exploitation in food systems by connecting farmers to high-value markets, helping them access a larger share of the product value chain, and establishing long-term, mutually-beneficial trade relationships."

Got ideas on how we could do better? Want to help? Drop us a line.

Can I come on a sourcing trip?

Funny you should ask. We do sometimes bring people along with us on sourcing trips. We’re always looking for chefs, food makers, and journalists that would be interested in exploring with us, as well as local experts and farmers that can help us get the most out of our trips. Interest? Reach out.

What are the 11 herbs and spices in KFC’s secret recipe?

No one knows (it gets the people going), but their Twitter account may have a hint.