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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.