This week, USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice food travel panelists named the Boulder Farmers Market the best farmers market. I'm pretty impressed with the company it keeps:
- Boulder Farmers Market - Boulder, Colo.
- Burlington Farmers' Market - Burlington, Vt.
- Peachtree Road Farmers Market - Atlanta
- Wednesday Downtown Farmers' Market - Santa Monica, Calif.
- Dane County Farmers' Market - Madison, Wis.
- Santa Fe Farmers Market - Santa Fe
- Ferry Plaza Farmers Market - San Francisco
- Green City Market - Chicago
- Davis Farmers Market - Davis, Calif.
- University District Neighborhood Farmers Market - Seattle
Maybe you don't know that the Boulder market is actually part of the Boulder County Farmers Markets, and not one, but two thriving county markets exist, the other at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. You might want to scoot over to Longmont to check out the scene there.
We live about half way between the two markets and for me, it's a toss-up on Saturdays during season. The Longmont venue has a different vibe than the Boulder scene and seems a little more kid-friendly. It's more spacious so feels a less crowded than the Boulder market. Many of the same vendors can be found at both locations. You can enjoy a bluegrass or 70s cover band most Saturdays at the Longmont venue. Parking is easy, close and free at the fairgrounds, which is important if you want to haul out corn on the cob or a case of peaches. Typically the prices are the same at each location, but I have found a few items are less expensive in Longmont. And because the Longmont venue is actually on County property, there is no city sales tax. All that said, I also enjoy the ambiance of the Boulder market among the city park's mature trees, with the Dushanbe Tea House and the Pearl Street Mall nearby.
We picked up basil, field tomatoes, onions, Japanese eggplants, summer squash, beans, carrots, corn, peaches, pico de gallo (fresh salsa), and roasted Budapest peppers. We'll eat most of this during the week and process some. On the menu are grilled vegetables and caprese (tomato slices, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar). The roasted Budapest peppers are for chile verde sauce, an essential ingredient in our winter soups and stews. We also purchased cucumbers and dill to make half-sour pickles.
Half-sours are very simple to make and rely on wild fermentation from lacto-bacteria naturally present on the cucumbers. Here are five simple steps to fermenting half-sour pickles:
1. Wash cucumbers and place in clean quart jar, along with dill and two sliced garlic cloves. Optionally, you can add a Tbsp of pickling spice.
2. Boil water.
3. In a large bowl, measure out 1 quart of boiled water per jar.
4. While water is still hot, add 2 Tbsp kosher or sea salt and stir. The salt will dissolve more easily in hot water. Let salt water cool.
5. Cover cucumber mix with salt water, filling jar to about 1/4" from the top. Cover with lid.
Let sit at room temperature. You will have half-sour pickles the next day. I put the jar in the refrigerator after two days to slow fermentation. We think the pickles are best if eaten within one week. So I make a small new batch (one to two jars) weekly during cucumber harvest season.
Congratulations to the Boulder County Farmers Markets!