I was inspired by a gift brought back to me from France, a tiny bag of culinary seasoning, combining herbs with salt. I so enjoyed cooking with it that it was quickly gone. Then I decided to make my own batch. After making many small batches, hand grinding different herbs and salts, in various amounts, I got it right!
On a family vacation my sister-in-law, Sarah, loved the sampling I brought. We spent time together as she inspired and encouraged me to design packaging to be able to sell the seasoning.
Filling small cotton bags, I started making "HerbSalt" to use and give to friends. One of those friends was Mary Magdalena, the owner of Mary's Market in Hygiene. She asked if I would be interested in making my blend in her commercial kitchen and selling it at her store, allowing me to sell in several other Boulder County markets as well.
I had to change from cotton bags to sealed tins for FDA standards to sell in markets. While designing the two ounce tin packaging, I worked with Hygiene food scientist, Mary C. Mulry, Ph.D.. She helped me with the details of bringing the product to market and up to FDA standards.
I have the good fortune of knowing Penny Haymes Cox of Studio on the Farm, a graphic designer living down the road in Hygiene. She helped with bringing our graphics to life. Sticker Giant, then of Hygiene, printed the labels for the round tins to my design and specifications.
HerbSalt was well received by food stores and chefs. With the increase in sales I needed help meeting demands for the product. In 2013, our niece, Julia Powell moved from San Francisco to head production.
A Hygiene farmer, Christian Toohey of Toohey & Sons, a fan of HerbSalt, encouraged me to apply to the Boulder County Farmers Markets. Now, for a third year we are selling at the Boulder and Longmont markets.
People ask me why I don't use a machine herb grinder in making HerbSalt. For me, it's the difference in using hand tools in wood working versus power tools. It is much quieter and more rhythmic, also hand grinding creates a mix of course and fine texture in the blend.
Sunday is our day to hand grind and package our product. The sound of the large mortar and pestle with conversation makes for a fulfilling day of family business.
It is amazing what I was able to create within my rural community. I am grateful to be a part of the tiny village of Hygiene, Colorado.
I've always enjoyed cooking. I learned to cook out of necessity when I became a vegetarian at age 15. My mother was generous and shared her North Dakota kitchen with me and all my concoctions; homemade nut milk in the fridge, sprouts on the counter, etc.
Cooking has always been an adventure for me. I tend to cook intuitively (without recipes) for our daily meals. A bit of this and a bit of that.
HerbSalt was created the same way, a bit of this and a bit of that, until I found it worth repeating the recipe and writing it down. I never imagined I would make a culinary product for the marketplace. Life has it's twists and turns.
I now enjoy making this handcrafted product with my husband, Andrew McArthur, and our niece, Julia Powell. Gayle's Salts has proven to be a great family business.
In November of 2013, Julia moved to Colorado to start production with me. Having created the recipe for HerbSalt, I now do all the hand-grinding and product development. Julia is great at production management and does all the packaging. Soon we were selling HerbSalt at local stores in the Boulder County and eventually made our product available at the Boulder County Farmer's Markets.
We could not do this without the support of my husband, Andrew, who has encouraged us to keep moving forward and bringing this product to market. He keeps the books, blends the batches of herbs, and sets up our tent at the farmer's markets.
We all currently use HerbSalt on a daily basis and we hope you will enjoy bringing Gayle's Salts culinary seasonings into your kitchen for your own cooking adventures.
- Gayle Burns McArthur