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Making the Most of Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are an invitation to overindulge. You wander through the stalls, eyeing those red ripe tomatoes, glistening yellow sweet corn and fluffy green herbs and the temptation is to buy it all.

But if you prepare yourself for the experience, and make the best use of the bounty, you’ll feel like a smart shopper while you indulge in the fresh tastes of summer. 

July and August are the peak season for Colorado’s juicy peaches, for example. If you don’t freeze or can them, however, buying a bushel may just be overdoing it. Half of them will rot before you can eat them.

Seasonal fresh produce should inspire home cooks to get adventurous, says Fran Folsom, a former food editor and cooking instructor. She suggests such things as a caprese salad (ripe tomato slices layered with fresh mozzarella cheese slices, sprinkled with basil and your favorite vinaigrette.) Or try a beet and orange salad. 

They make a surprisingly great combination,” she says. Another trick she likes is making “zoocles” – zucchini noodles. Sauté them for about five minutes in olive oil and toss with a little pesto for some zing. That’s also a great way to use fresh basil.

“There’s always so much zucchini this time of year, it’s fun to do something different with it,” she adds.

Here are some tips compiled from a few experts for shopping the many farm markets offered almost daily in the Pikes Peak region

Ask questions

If you shop for local produce, to support local farmers, ask where the produce comes from. It might be from California or Mexico. Don’t assume that because it’s at a local market, it was Colorado grown. 

Are you a planner or a spontaneous shopper? 

Planning means you’ll go with a list of things that fit into your week’s menu and there will be little waste. But if you spot some gorgeous green beans and you hadn’t planned on them, be flexible and switch out another vegetable.

Spy before you buy

Scope out the entire market to find the best-looking sweet corn or green chilies – and maybe compare prices before you commit. 

Try new things

What are those round, light green zucchini-like things? They’re called calabacitas and chances are, you’ll like them better than zucchini. Those heirloom tomatoes might look bumpy and funky, but the taste will take you back to your childhood. And don’t throw away the beet greens – cooked like spinach, they’re very tasty.

Buy what you can eat in a week, unless you plan to can or freeze some

You’ll find directions for doing these online, too. Check out the Colorado State University Extension website, for starters. Look for its food preservation newsletters. New this year: Use your smart phone or computer to access CSU Extension’s Preserve Smart program. It has directions for preserving summer’s bounty, and recipe ideas, too.  

Check out the following list of markets for one near you.

MONDAYS

• Western Museum of Mining and Industry 

225 North Gate Blvd / 9 am- 6 pm / July - Oct

 

TUESDAYS

• Fountain Farmers Market

116 S Main St / 2 - 7 pm  / May 30 – Aug 1

• Canon City Farmers Market, Veterans Park

8 am - 1 pm  / June 6 - Sept 26

 

WEDNESDAYS

• Briargate Farmers Market

7610 N Union Blvd  / 9 am - 3 pm  / May 23 – Oct 10

• Western Museum of Mining and Industry

225 North Gate Blvd / 9 am - 6 pm / July – Oct

• Colorado Farm & Art Market at the Pioneers Museum

215 S Tejon St / 3 - 7 pm  / June through mid-Oct

 

THURSDAYS

• Memorial Park

1605 E Pikes Peak Ave / 7 am - 1 pm  / Dates and Times TBD 

• Banning Lewis Ranch 

6885 Vista Del Pico Blvd  / 3 - 7 pm  / June 7 - Sept 13

• Manitou Community Market, Soda Springs Park / Dates and Times TBD

 

FRIDAYS

• Woodland Park

361 U.S. Hwy 24 / 8 am - 1 pm  / June – Sept

• Buffalo Bicycle Lodge 

2 El Paso Blvd / 4 - 8 pm  / June 8 - Sept 7

 

SATURDAYS

• Old Colorado City Farmers Market

W Colorado Ave & 24th St  / 7 am - 1:30 pm  / June 9 - Oct 20

• Monument Hill Farmers Market

66 S. Jefferson St / 9 am - 1 pm  / May 26 – Oct 13

• Colorado Farm & Art Market at Margarita at Pine Creek

7350 Pine Creek Rd  / 9 am - 1 pm  / June through mid-Oct

• Colorado Springs Flea Market

5225 E Platte Ave / Summer hours 2018: 7 am - 4 pm / Fall hours 2018: 8 am - 4 pm

• The Promenade Shops at Briargate

1885 Briargate Pkwy / 9 am - 1 pm / June 9 - Sept 29

 

SUNDAYS

• Downtown Colorado Springs, Acacia Park

115 E. Platte Ave / 9 am - 2 pm  / June 25 - Sept 3 (metered parking on Sunday is free)

• Cordera

11894 Grandlawn Cir / 10 am - 3 pm  / June 3 – Sept. 16

• Colorado Springs Flea Market

5225 E Platte Ave / Summer hours 2018: 7 am - 4 pm / Fall hours: 8 am - 4 pm

 

DAILY

• Spencer's Lawn & Garden Center

1430 S Tejon St / Monday - Saturday  / 9 am - 6 pm