Farmer's Market Faces: "Pretzels Have a Conservative History"
Though his grandfather was from Spain, somewhere in Jed Sanchez's family tree there's some German. What really got him going on pretzels, though, was a long trip he took with his brother through Bavaria and Austria when he was younger.
"For a pretzel lover, this is like visiting Spain to pick out a hand-made classical guitar and being immediately inspired to play," he writes on the website for his business, Pretzel Village. Standing at the Lebanon Farmer's Market the other evening, almost sold out of everything he'd brought, he put it more simply. "I had my share of pretzels," he said of that trip. "I've always loved them."
When he set up Pretzel Village in 2015, he decided to stick as closely as possible to what he'd enjoyed in Germany and Austria -- but with some adaptations. "They’re based on German baker’s guild recipes," he says, "except that over there they use a little bit of milk, and instead I add beer and barley malt syrup to the yeast mash. You want that beery maltiness and tang. There’s some heft to it." The dough goes through three separate rises, two of them slow and in the cold, so that the flavors have a chance to develop.
The maple were already gone. And the strawberry were about to get snatched up.
The dough isn't the only thing he's played around with. Though he makes traditional salt pretzels, he also makes them with cheeses and other flavorings -- in fact, his "queso" pretzels outsell the salt version. And his daughter loves doughnuts, so he's created maple-glazed and strawberry pretzels as well. "I’d say pretzels have a conservative history. People want a soft pretzel to taste a certain way and look a certain way," he says. "But I got into new territory: It’s like having a canvas to work with. I wanted that American flair for the inventive."
Jed sells at both the Lebanon and Hanover farmer's markets. "What I love most is selling things that people want because they’re local and fresh. I love making their day a little more enjoyable. I want them to come here like they’re walking into a little enclave, a Bavarian village," he says, gesturing at the beer steins and wicker baskets people see when they walk up. "And then of course, the market itself is a village."