This week, the cherries finally appeared at the Boulder Farmers' Market -- and as far as I know, these cherries from First Fruits Organic Farms in Paonia are the only Colorado-grown cherries available in the entire state. In many religions worldwide, first fruits are traditionally offered up to priests and, according to First Fruit's website, Kris and Kevin Kropp's cherries, peaches, apples, pears, and plums are raised organically "in keeping with the high calling of stewardship for the earth." Their farm stand boasted a bright, tart early cherry Wednesday, but Saturday morning's offerings are even sweeter: Rainiers and two kinds of dark cherries. Despite my general agnosticism, it's hard to refrain from raising a few hosannas. As the market opens, word hasn't yet gotten around, but as time passes and more and more people congregate and marvel.
- Best Farmers' Market 2012: Boulder Farmers' Market
- Strawberries are at their peak -- time to make jam!
- Teri Ripetto shops for Potager at the Boulder Farmers' Market
One of the perks of regular market attendance is that you're alert to what's available when and from whom, which means you can sometimes get your hands on a treasure that's in short supply: a basket of raspberries, artichokes. The earliest peach crop tends to be light, and you have to get to market early to score peaches -- especially this year, when the apricot crop has failed and everyone's keeping an eye out for any sign of the fruit. The folks at Morton's Orchards says they'll have some peaches from their first crop next Saturday, when everyone else's peaches will still be two or three weeks away. Since it's not a full crop yet and the line for Morton's tends to start early and wind long even on the peachiest weeks, I tell you this only out of a sense of loyalty -- and I'd better not find you ahead of me in line.
The market gives you an acute sense of seasonality, as well as of time passing. Last week's skinny little carrots have grown thicker, crisper and sweeter. You probably don't even need to peel them; just give them a quick scrub and eat them out of your hand; roast mixed vegetables and carrot-ginger soup can wait 'till fall. The first zucchinis and summer squashes made an appearance a week ago; now they're everywhere and Red Wagon has fleshy golden squash blossoms for cutting up into salads or filling with herbed cheese, battering and frying.
The Alaska salmon people are here, 2 Rs has the usual greenhouse tomatoes, and when I see that Miller Farms has set baskets of fresh green beans alongside their floury new potatoes, I know salad Nicoise is on the menu.
Keep reading for a recipe.