Burlap & Barrel's spectacular za'atar is blended at origin in Palestine with locally grown herbs, sesame seeds and sumac.
Za'atar is a blend named after its key ingredient, a Levantine species of oregano that flourishes in the region's characteristic arid conditions, and it also includes sesame seeds, sumac and other ingredients, depending on who's making it. Good za'atar tastes savory, deeply herbal, piney, nutty, tart and peppery.
Burlap & Barrel is able to share this za'atar because of the expertise, persistence and creativity of more people than you probably realize — They've assembled a scrappy team of farmers, millers, entrepreneurs, freight forwarders and at least one father-in-law who pieced together a whole supply chain for you. It represents a shared pride and passion for their land, its people and their culture. When B&B talk about heirloom spices, this is what they're talking about.
The miller, Abu Ali, said, "We do this from our hearts out of love. Working in the mill bringing the smell of the za'atar in the air makes us all love our job even more. We want the world to know we love our culture and want to share the love of our culture by working hard daily just so we can bring joy into everyone’s home."
Black Urfa Chili - Purple Stripe Garlic - Cured Sumac
Burlap & Barrel's za'atar was cultivated by a family in the hills outside of Ramallah using artisanal and organic methods, including collecting limited rainwater to grow the za'atar plants. Like many Palestinians, they are denied access to the aquifers beneath their feet and must practice water-saving techniques to grow their traditional crops.
When the herb's fuzzy, heart-shaped leaves are ready for harvest throughout the summer, they are hand-picked by farmers who learned their craft from their parents and grandparents and cultivate the same land, rare in a place where many farming families have had their land taken away from the
After harvest, the za'atar is dried and then ground at a local mill. Careful stone milling of the za'atar leaves before blending is essential to create the distinctive light, fluffy texture of real Palestinian za'atar. The ground leaves are precisely blended with roasted local sesame seeds and tart, purple sumac, which grow in Silwad and the eastern areas of Ramallah.