Frequently Asked Questions
For details on our temporary closure until early July for major renovation, click here.
Q: I am on a special diet. Are you able to make individual meals to accommodate my restrictions?
A: Many of our recipes are developed to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and complementary to the GAPS Diet protocol and with Paleo diets, as well as accommodating other dietary restrictions. Click here for details on tags you can use to search through our menu. Some of our foods each week are vegetarian, and a few are vegan. We also try to offer dishes that are nightshade-free, and have begun removing black pepper from certain dishes because of a specific restriction that some customers have brought to our attention (black pepper is not a nightshade).
Beyond that, we make our foods in large batches to fulfill our orders for the week, and so are not able to accommodate individual requests or restrictions. We list the ingredients online for each item, so you can decide whether or not you can eat that product before ordering it. You can also search our products for tags, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, kid-friendly, Paleo, etc. (A full list is on the side of every product page.)
If you have a question about an ingredient or a dietary restriction, please email us. We are always interested in customer feedback, including dietary restrictions or information about particular ingredients.
Q: How spicy is your food? My children won’t eat anything that’s too hot.
A: We try to be conservative with spicing, to accommodate the widest range of palates and sensitivities. We offer dishes with a richness and complexity of flavor, that sometimes feature the healing properties of herbs, spices and other ingredients with strong flavor. But we try and keep it mild and family-friendly.
Many of the dishes we prepare are based on traditional recipes from around the world, which may be much spicier than our versions. This is an adjustment we make to accommodate many palates, especially those of children. We want your children to eat and like our food!
Those who like it hot can always add a pinch of cayenne or a splash of hot sauce. (Try our own Cultured Sriracha, Kapow! Paste or Spicy Red Kimchi!) Occasionally, when an item may be spicier than our usual flavor profile, we try and indicate that on the online product descriptor.
Q: What about salt? How salty is your food?
A: We salt to taste, using nutritious, mineral-rich Celtic sea salt. Our bone broths are unsalted, but most other dishes do contain salt. Again, we try not to over-salt because you can always add salt at home if you’d like more.
Q: How long does your food last? Can it be frozen, and how should I reheat it?
A: This varies quite a bit. Click here for detailed information about the shelf life of our foods, and for in-depth instructions on how to store, freeze, and reheat most of our products.
ORDERING AND SHOPPING
Q: Do you offer Gift Certificates?
A: Yes. Three Stone Hearth gift cards are available in our brick & mortar store, for in-store purchases only, and you may also order a Give a Gift credit for someone's Three Stone Hearth account for online ordering. Click here details.
Q: Why are your hours so irregular?
A: Several elements contribute to our unorthodox schedule. Our Community Supported Kitchen (CSK) business model was designed around customers pre-ordering online, and coming in during limited hours to pick up their orders, so that we could focus on food preparation for most of the week. The traditional techniques we use to create our dishes are often quite labor intensive, and require multiple days to complete; namely soaking and sprouting grains and legumes, brining pork, fermenting vegetables, long-simmering broths and meat stews. Our two, 40-gallon "tilt skillets"--the workhorses in which we prepare most of our hot foods--are tied up from Wednesday afternoon through Sunday afternoon just making all the beef and chicken broths for the week.
Q: Why can't I order food online Wednesday and Thursday?
A: Our ordering and production cycle is also a reflection of the unique nature of our CSK model. Our online menu is available from Thursday evening until the following Wednesday morning at 10am. Here's why:
For us, Wednesday is a transition day from production to fulfillment. Knowing our final order numbers Wednesday morning allows us to make that transition almost seamlessly. As the kitchen produces its final batches of the week's dishes, we begin packing delivery orders and preparing our space for customer pre-order pickup and in-store shopping at 4pm.
Pickups and deliveries continue through Thursday afternoon, while the kitchen focusses on deep cleaning, inventory, ingredient ordering and production planning for the next menu cycle--while processing 150# of chicken meat. Our unstoppable dish crew spends a good portion of Thursday and Friday sorting, inspecting, sanitizing and organizing thousands of bottle and jar returns, and cleaning hundreds of ice packs and other delivery materials for reuse.
While our online menu is quiet for a day and a half, we are anything but! (Our classes and workshops do remain available to purchase throughout the week.)
Q: Sometimes when I go online to order, something that I want is sold out. Does that mean that it’s not available?
A: The short answer is: generally, but not necessarily.
Our new menu goes live online every Thursday evening, and we rarely sell out of things before Sunday, so pre-ordering early is always your best bet.
We adjust our available inventory numbers throughout the week, based on incoming online pre-orders and kitchen production capacity and schedule. If something you want is sold out, it is worth checking back again after a day or two.
Even if an item is sold out online, it may be available in our brick & mortar store, which is open during order pickup times: Wednesday 4-7pm, Thursday 10am-4pm and Saturday 9am-2pm. We do try and offer as many of our products as we can in the store. The earlier you come, the more likely you will find what you want.
Some of our products are also available at El Cerrito Natural Grocery Store and Berkeley Natural Grocery Store each week, so you can check with them to see if they have the item you want.
Q: What if I place an order but then need to cancel it?
A: Your order can be cancelled up until the online menu closes at 10am on Wednesday morning. Please email us at email@example.com as soon as possible to request that your order be cancelled. The payment for that order will be credited to your Three Stone Hearth online account and can be used the next time you order.
Q: What if I realize too late that I need to cancel it?
A: If you discover after the online store has closed (10am on Wednesday) that you will not be able to pick up or utilize the food you ordered from us, email and let us know. Usually, we can arrange an alternative pick-up time with you or a designated friend. You also always have the option of donating your order to the kitchen. We’re sorry but we are not able to freeze products for customers to be picked up later. We can credit non-perishable items you bought that we can resell.
Q: What if I can’t pick up my order during your store hours?
A: If you have an emergency and will not be able to pick up, please email us by Saturday 2pm at firstname.lastname@example.org or call and leave a message at 510-981-1334. Unless prior arrangements have been made with us, all unclaimed perishable items will be given to the kitchen for staff use. Non-perishable items will be credited back to your account with a restocking fee of $5.00 per order.
Click here for details on our late pick-up policy.
Q: I can never make it to your store hours. What are my options?
A: If you have scheduling challenges, consider the following:
Ask a friend or family member to pick up your order for you during pick-up/store hours. Please add a note in the notes section when placing your order telling us who is picking up your order.
Choose one of our delivery options, which are available in the East Bay, San Francisco, and Marin. Click here for details on Pick Up & Delivery.
Purchase certain Three Stone Hearth items from the The Natural Grocery Company in Berkeley or El Cerrito, open from 8:30am-8:30pm, seven days a week.
Q: What is your refund policy?
A: If you feel there is something wrong with anything you bought from us, contact us as soon as you can, at email@example.com. For perishable items we need you to contact us within 10 days of purchase; for non-perishable items, within 30 days. We'll need you to bring the product back to us, and if you bought it in the store, bring your receipt or the card used to make the purchase. We will discuss the issue with you, and, as appropriate, either exchange the item or issue you a refund. If you bought it online, a credit may be issued to your online account, unless you ask in writing for a refund to your credit card.
Q: What if I order something from you but then don’t like it?
A: We are unable to offer refunds for products that you simply don’t like. However, we do recommend that you fill out our online feedback form so that we are aware of your input and/or email us with any constructive criticism. We take all feedback seriously and are continually improving our recipes and procedures to integrate feedback from customers and staff.
Q: I’m interested in classes and hands-on experiences in the kitchen and I’ve heard you offer those, but I can’t find them! Where are they?
A: Our Classes & Workshops page highlights upcoming opportunities to come to the kitchen for a class, a tour, or a “hands-on” experience. Sign up for our email newsletter at the bottom of this page for regular updates on upcoming events.
For those who want to learn in a deeper way about our model, we periodically offer “Intensives” which combine hands-on time in the kitchen with special classes and presentations about other aspects of our business. The Intensives vary in length and focus, from one day to two weeks.
GLASS & PACKAGING RETURNS
Q: Should I wash the glass jars and bottles before I return them?
A: Yes, please! We sterilize the jars and bottles, but we expect customers to thoroughly wash them before returning to us. Jars that are returned dirty are not eligible for a credit.
Q: Should I return the lids and rings, and put them back on the jars?
A: You don’t have to in order to receive your glass credit, but it does help protect the jars from chipping if, after they are clean and dry, you return them with the lids and rings back on. If a ring is damaged or rusty, you can recycle it. We will sanitize and reuse any rings in good condition, and all the lids get recycled, as we cannot reuse them. Only the glass is returnable for deposit.
If a jar is chipped, cracked, broken or damaged in any way it cannot be reused. Please recycle it. Only fully-intact, reusable jars can be returned for deposit.
Q: Do you accept Straus cream or milk bottles returned for deposit?
A: No, only Claravale bottles. We don’t sell Straus cream or milk.
Q: Do you accept The Living Apothecary Almond Milk bottles returned for deposit?
A: No, we do not charge a deposit or give credit for them.
Q: Do you accept Evergreen Acres Raw Goat Milk bottles returned for deposit?
A: Yes. We charge a $2 deposit on Evergreen Acres milk bottles, and accept them for return.
Q: I have a box of old mason jars that are like the ones you use. Can I return them to you for deposit?
A: No, unless you got them from us they are not returnable to us for deposit. If you are interested in donating Ball or Kerr mason jars to the kitchen, please bring them in for us to inspect first. We need to make sure they are clean, intact and useable.
Q: How do I return jars if I am a delivery customer?
A: Please see our Pick-up & Delivery page for details. It may take up to ten days for the deposit credit to appear on your TSH account.
Q: What if something is wrong with something I purchased from you?
A: If there is a problem with anything that you purchased from us, please let us know as soon as possible for a possible partial or full refund, depending on the nature of the problem. It is best to notify us in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org with details, including photos if possible.
If there is a problem with a product that we carry from another producer (as opposed to our own housemade products), we will usually put you in touch directly with that producer to resolve the issue and to give them direct feedback. The producer will often replace the product at no charge, delivering it to our kitchen so that you can pick it up later.