Farmers' Markets

Farmers' Market Finds: Björn's Colorado Honey Provides a Taste of Colorado Wildflowers

Ali Vagnini
Björn's Colorado Honey is run by husband-and-wife team Pontus Jakobsson and Lara Boudreaux.
It’s peak season for farmers’ markets. No matter your neighborhood, you can find local produce and handcrafted goodies near you. In Farmers’ Market Finds, recipe developer and freelance writer Ashlee Redger highlights some standout local farmers’ market vendors and dishes up a recipe using their goods.

Vendor:
Björn’s Colorado Honey

Where to find it: Retail locations in Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs, as well as two kiosks at Denver International Airport. You can also find stands at the Boulder, City Park, Golden, Longmont, Southlands, Steamboat, Westminster, Louisville, University Hills and Lakewood farmers' markets on Saturdays; and Parker, Central Park, Arvada, Highlands Square, SOL Cherry Creek, South Pearl Street and Vail farmers' markets on Sundays. Visit the Events Calendar page on Björn's website for a full list of markets and festivals.

For more info: Visit bjornscoloradohoney.com
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Björn's Colorado Honey is a local staple and can be found at nearly every farmers' market in the Denver metro (plus a few spots beyond that).
Lara Boudreaux
About the business: There are few things that speak to the overall flavor of a region more than local honey, and Björn's Colorado Honey is perhaps the most well-known producer of it in the state. For almost a decade, Coloradans have enjoyed this liquid gold from their local farmers' market, but did you know it's three generations in the making?

Pontus Jakobsson and Lara Boudreaux are the husband-and-wife team behind Björn's Colorado Honey. They met and fell in love while backpacking in Southeast Asia in their early twenties. When the couple decided they would get married, Pontus decided to immigrate from his home in Sweden to Colorado, where Lara already had an established job in tech. One problem: Pontus had always planned to take over his family's beekeeping business.
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Björn started as a hobbyist beekeeper in Sweden. Three generations later, Ester learns about bees from her dad, Pontus.
Lara Boudreaux
Pontus's grandfather, Björn Jakobsson, started out as the owner of a dye business in the region of Scandinavia traditionally known for creating garments. During his time in the clothing industry, Björn kept bees as a hobby in the late ’60s, but by the 1980s, he'd made apiculture his full-time work. Now age 91, Björn has handed down the last few of his beehives to his son to tend in Sweden, though he still delivers honey to some of the local wholesale outlets.

The family's company in Sweden is named after the type of honey they produce, skogshonung, meaning "forest honey," after the thick forests of southern Sweden where most of their hives are located. While Pontus could no longer produce the Swedish skogshonung, he quickly established his own hives in Colorado and named the new brand after the man who taught him about beekeeping, his grandpa Björn.

Lara and Pontus's family now includes Ester, the couple's young daughter. She's the fourth generation to learn the family trade and has had her own miniature bee suit since she was two years old. As she has grown, so has the family's business: Björn's Colorado Honey has hives that span Boulder County and as far east as Weld County. It's nearly ubiquitous at farmers' markets around the state, has two retail storefronts in Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge, and even two kiosks in the airport (concourses A and C). The product range at the shops includes skin care and bee-themed jewelry and books, as well as an ever-widening variety of honey.
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Pontus and Lara's daughter, Ester, has been checking the bees with her dad since she was two years old.
Mike Thurk
"Honey is such a cool souvenir, you know. It's a taste of a place. It has a terroir, just like wine does," Lara says. "It supports the local economy and supports beekeepers and open spaces in the area. But then you also get to say, 'Look! You can taste what Colorado wildflowers taste like!'"

For a taste of the Colorado wildflowers, look for Björn's raw traditional honey with the sunny yellow label. For a slightly different flavor, try the Colorado clover blossom honey, or even some California orange blossom or honeycomb from a beekeeper friend of Pontus's on the West Coast. There are flavored varieties of Björn's honey, too, including lavender, saffron, cinnamon and the beautifully flecked vanilla bean honey.

It's harvesting season right now, and for people who want a true taste of the hive, Lara suggests the Colorado Honeycomb, which is cut by hand, as well as the Untouched Honey. While all of Björn's Honey is raw, the jars of untouched honey are completely unfiltered and contain local pollens, beeswax and propolis, which can be highly beneficial for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.

For a special treat, Björn's Colorado Honey lineup also includes two collaborations with local brands. The Sweet and Spicy Honey is a blend of whipped honey and Jojo's Sriracha. It's great anywhere you would normally use hot honey: as a glaze for grilled meats or a dip for fried chicken or pizza crust. Lara suggests using it with a splash of vinegar as a marinade for shelled shrimp before grilling.

The second collaboration is with Stranahan's, which approached Björn's Colorado Honey and asked, "What would happen if you put honey inside of a whiskey barrel and let it sit there?" Turns out: magic (okay, maybe actual science). The humectant nature of the honey (the tendency of honey to draw moisture out of its environment) means that as the honey interacts with the used barrels, it draws out the last bits of whiskey and is infused with the aroma of oak, caramel and spice.
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Björn's honeycomb is a special treat.
Lara Boudreaux
Buying these delicious jars of honey for yourself or as gifts not only supports a small business, but also helps local apiculture. But in a time when the wild populations of pollinators are rapidly diminishing because of a wide variety of human-caused issues, what can you do to help the honeybees that live around your home?

Avoid spraying your gardens and homes with herbicides and pesticides.

"Keeping those in check, if you can do it less frequently or not at all, that's really good for the honeybees, because that stuff is hard on them," Lara suggests. Her second recommendation: giving the bees something to sip. "A little dish of water or a bird bath helps the honeybees have water throughout the year, which is crucial for them not only to make their honey, but of course for them to drink." If it's a deeper source of water, put some stones in to help give the bees a place to land. Lara likes to use the drainage dish of a terra cotta pot with a few stones for her bee drinking fountain. "They come and drink from it, and you can watch them. It's really fun," she adds.
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Roast your favorite autumn vegetables (pictured here: sweet potatoes, golden beets and delicata squash) and drizzle with Sweet and Spicy Honey for the last five minutes of roasting to glaze.
Ashlee Redger
How to use it:
Honey has endless uses. Grab some lavender honey to drizzle onto whole wheat pancakes, spread whipped honey onto biscuits or mix clover honey with a little water to use as a floral alternative to simple syrup in cocktails (a honey margarita is a great switch-up to the standard). If you can get your hands on some late-season peaches, grill them and drizzle with vanilla bean honey to serve. For a little hot honey action, make Sweet and Spicy Glazed Fall Veggies.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Fall Veggies
Cut your favorite winter squash, Brussels sprouts, beets and/or sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 to 3/4-inch) and spread onto a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add some peeled and smashed cloves of garlic if you have them. Roast in a 375°F oven until they're tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes, depending on your veggie and oven. Drizzle generously with Sweet and Spicy Honey, then bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the honey looks sticky on the pieces (it'll thicken and cling to the vegetables a little more as they cool). You can sprinkle the finished vegetables with whatever herb you have, but sage is especially lovely. This method is fantastic alongside grilled pork loin, baked gnocchi or even as a grown-up side dish for Thanksgiving.
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Peppery black radishes are available at the Switch Gears Farm stand at the Saturday City Park Farmers Market.
Margo Wanberg/City Park Farmers Market Newsletter
Bonus farmers’ market finds: As produce harvesting starts to slow, the early autumn allows us to focus a little more on locally prepared products at farmers’ markets. Here's a taste of what the last few weeks of the markets have in store:
  • You’ll probably catch a few peppers/chiles and melons at the markets, as well as apples, squash, okra, hardy greens and root vegetables.
  • Switch Gears Farm has a unique brassica that you probably won’t find at your local King Soopers: the black radish (also called the Black Spanish Radish). It has an extra spicy flavor and is a pungent but tasty addition to home ferments. This variety is well known for its ability to store for several months, so grab a bundle at the City Park Farmers Market and keep ’em lightly wrapped in the produce drawer of your fridge until you’re ready to enjoy.
  • The Brad B Jammin stand offers dozens of flavors of fun preserves, including boozy fruit, pepper and savory jams. Sifting through them offers a moment of delight at a busy market — plus, having a few different mini jars on hand means you'll always be just a block of cheese and some crackers away from a snack board. Check out the website for market locations.
  • Cocktail Caravan's bottled mixers (available at the Saturday and Wednesday Boulder markets) are blends of fresh-pressed juices that can be mixed with seltzer and/or your favorite booze. Great to mix with seltzer, with or without booze, for when you need to treat yourself.