The farmers' markets around town are in full swing. But you'll find far more than just fresh peaches, crunchy peppers, organic eggs and bunches of beets. Plenty of artisan foods are also for sale, all handmade in Colorado and bursting with local flavors. Fancy a bottle of drinking vinegar? You can find a few versions of that. How about some tasty sauce to spruce up dinner? Definitely available. We scoured a couple markets to see what's available and found these ten winners. Here's a downloadable list of farmers' markets throughout the state where you can find these products and more.
Esmeralda Tamale House's Salsa
Just about every day in Greeley, this little shop whips up homemade tamales and salsas and sells them at the family restaurant in Estes Park and at farmers' markets around the region. The tamales, which come in packs of six, are delicious, but the salsa is what you really want to seek out. Choose from nine different flavors in varying heat levels that use a variety of locally grown chiles, tomatillos, onions and tomatoes. A tub runs $7 for a pint and tastes as fresh as the produce being sold at neighboring stands. Find Esmeralda Tamale House products at Union Station (Saturdays) and the farmers' markets in Boulder (Saturdays and Wednesdays), Fort Collins (Sundays and Wednesdays), Longmont (Saturdays) and Lafayette (Thursdays).
Five Points Fermentation's Mao Zhen Jun Tea
Each week, Asia Dorsey, owner of Five Points Fermentation, makes a sweet syrup for her fermented beverages using local honey and whatever organic fruit from Morton's Farm happens to be in season. On our last visit, that meant cherries, which proved delightful in the cool, slightly effervescent beverage. Made with pan-roasted green tea from China, Mao Zhen Jun tea is akin to kombucha and has the same probiotic component, but without the super-tart, vinegar-like flavor. Jun is still a little lip-puckering, but also mildly sweet and refreshing. Get a sample and a bottle of the stuff at the Mo Betta Green Market (Wednesdays), South Pearl Street (Sundays) and Union Station farmers' markets.
3. Highland Honey Bees Honey
At pretty much every farmers' market you go to, you will find some local honey, but you won't always find local honey infused with local herbs that help promote health. Don't worry: Tim Brod has you covered at his energetic stand. Here you can get honey to help with relaxation, respiratory health, female vitality and tummy troubles, to name a few conditions that might ail you. All of the honey is sourced from Brod's hives, which are found all over Boulder County and number in the hundreds. Brod has been a beekeeper for nearly fifty years, and the whipped, non-heat-treated honey showcases his skill at maintaining healthy bees and serving a quality product. Find the sweet stuff at the Boulder and Union Station farmers' markets.
4. Living Land Farm's Fresh Flowers
Sure, you can't eat fresh flowers, but what better way to brighten the lunch spread or celebrate a dinner party than with a bright bunch of flora and fauna? Ed McCoy owns this Wheat Ridge farm and has been selling at farmers' markets for five years. He grows hundreds of wild flowers and mixes bouquets that contain both edible plants and flowering herbs. The last time we checked, he had big purple chive blossoms, bunches of fragrant coriander seeds and flowers, and stalks of emerald green mints. These lovely bundles are available at the Wheat Ridge (Saturdays) market as well as the Union Station one.
5. Mile High Fungi
Get mushrooms and have your fungi, too. At least, that's what husband-and-wife team Liz and Michael Nail thought when they started their urban mushroom-growing business in 2014. Now the couple live in Deer Creek Canyon, but they still grow a fantastic array of mushrooms, from lion's head to shiitake to king trumpets. Overall, they have about ten specimens for sale starting at $5 a pint. They also sell dried mushrooms, which are great for stews or to turn into a savory powder. Get these beauties at the South Pearl Street and Union Station farmers' markets.
6. Nummy Nibbles' Ceylon Ceylon
Spiced nut butters have been making a statement lately, but none quite was well as Jyothi and Subhash Nankdumar's Denver-based Nummy Nibbles. Found online and in farmers' markets, all five options of this peanut-based condiment offer a rich profile of international flavors including Indian, Mexican and Creole. One of the best is the Ceylon Ceylon, a Sri Lankan-influenced mix of honey, coconut, black pepper and fennel. It's slightly sweet with a savory bite, perfect for fish dishes or just to dip a handful of pretzel sticks into. Purchase a jar of this stuff for $7 at the Farmers' Market at Highland Square (Sundays), or find at some local artisan shops.
7. Pappardelle's Pasta
Since 1984, this factory on Holly Street in Denver has made traditional pastas using a brass Italian machine that dates back to the 1920s. You can find the goods all over the country, but in Colorado, head to the Boulder, Union Station and Golden (Saturdays) markets for the latest stuff. It's fun to check out the rainbow of pastas Pappardelle's sells, from green basil-garlic sea shells to spicy orange habanero radiatore to bright yellow lemon-parsley mafaldine. Pretty much any shape or style of pasta you want, they have, including some solely semolina varietals.
8. Picaflor Live Fermented Sriracha
Straight from the McCauley Family Farm comes legit sriracha that will have you questioning that big bottle of rooster sauce found at every hipster restaurant. This stuff is good, and it's made with love and local peppers right on the farm. Based in Boulder, Marcus McCauley has been making the sauce for three years. Each bottle runs $8, and you can choose from the classic Thai-style sriracha, a Tabasco-style criolla pepper condiment and a green chile sauce. Look for these products in the Union Station, Boulder and Longmont markets.
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9. Pucker Up Lemon Shrub
About two years ago, Linda Chumbley took her culinary-vinegar-making hobby and turned it into a tasty business, one that also includes artisan shrubs. No, we aren't talking about the plant, but the effervescent, sugar-and-vinegar drink often found in bars. Enter Pucker Up Lemon Shrub, a delightful dram bursting with bright, tart citrus. Based in Golden, each shrub is created with homemade vinegar Chumbley distills from local spirits. Under the moniker Rocky Mountain Vinegar Works, she sells bottles of her $15 beverage at the Farmers' Market at Highland Square and in Golden.
10. The GrowHaus Living Basil
Instead of buying cut basil every time you crave a caprese salad this summer, consider investing $6 in a bunch of living basil. The GrowHaus, a small indoor farm in Denver, sells this plant at the Farmers' Market at Highland Square (at the St. Kilian's Cheese Shop stand) and its own Mercado de al Lado. Not only do you get fresh basil whenever you want it (as long as you water the plant), but it smells wonderful and doesn't come in any pesky packaging.