made in colorado

Made in Colorado: Our 20 Favorite Local Products of the Year 2016

By | December 15, 2015
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Story after story, we find a common theme among our favorite product picks each year, and this year that theme is a home kitchen. Most of the foods featured on these pages were created using a home stove, oven or mixing bowl.

A few of these entrepreneurs began with a successful enterprise in mind, but for most their passion and love for making these creations started as gifts for family, friends and sometimes co-workers. Crafted with the hope they would be enjoyed, even cherished, and then shared again and again in home kitchens around the state.

We are proud to highlight our Edible favorites (listed in no particular order) and hope they’ll become favorites of your family’s too.

1. Perky Jerky
Greenwood Village

Tender, flavorful, low in fat and calories but full of protein—Perky Jerky is the go-to snack for athletes, school kids and road trippers throughout Colorado. Contrary to popular myth, there is no caffeine in Perky Jerky, just simply high-quality cuts of beef and turkey that are marinated overnight to make the taste and soft texture extremely satisfying. The fact that there are no added nitrates, preservatives or MSG makes it a snack easy to place in hungry kids’ lunchboxes, as well. Expect to see Perky Jerky around Aspen this winter, as the company has partnered with Aspen Skiing Co. to be sold at all on-mountain restaurants.

2. Boulder Organic Ice Cream

Ten gallons at a time, that’s how small a batch Boulder Organic Ice Cream makes of its dozen flavors. With tried and true flavors like Sweet Cream and Chocolate Pudding, in 2014 the entire line of ice creams was converted to comply with USDA Organic Certification. Boulder also launched a sister brand Figo! Organic Gelato three years ago, the only organic gelato on the market. Both products use local organic milk, never treated with antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones. The ice cream and gelatos are processed in a “green” manufacturing plant, where 100 percent of the energy is offset with wind power.

3. L’il Hottie’s Salsa

Using a family recipe held close to the vest for two generations, L’il Hottie’s Salsa made its way out of the family kitchen and into the world in the form of homemade gifts for Jill Farquhar’s clients. L’il Hottie’s now offers three flavors: The flagship salsa is Medium with A Kick, Original with Extra Kick and Hot Green Pepper Salsa. More products are on the way, including Supper Sauce, a hot Italian/ Mexican spaghetti sauce for pasta, breakfast burritos and poultry, and a Bloody Mary mix. “It started as corporate gifts, but now it’s taking on a life of its own. Now I’m feeding it and seeing what it grows into,” says Farquhar.

4. Quinn Popcorn

Get ready to be addicted. You love popcorn, but get little satisfaction out of the store-bought variety that tastes like stale air, or microwave products that can make you feel at least a little guilty about what you’re eating. Quinn’s Microwave Popcorn Reinvented and Farm-to-Bag creations will make you a believer in popcorn again. Quinn’s bagged varieties taste like decadent moviehouse popcorn and are made with non-GMO corn and popped in extra-virgin, organic coconut oil and sprinkled with sea salt. And the microwave popcorn is even better: It’s free of synthetic chemicals and with perfectly balanced flavors like Parmesan & Rosemary, Vermont Maple and Real Butter (mixed via spice pouch after popping) it makes microwave popcorn to love, not fear. Bonus: The microwave bag is compostable and the liner doesn’t contain any metals, plastics or chemicals.

5. Rocky Mountain Soda Co.

From some of the same guys who brought you Peach Street Distillers spirits comes Rocky Mountain Soda artisanal sodas. Things began for these soda jerks organically. “We were mixing high-quality liquor with crappy soda and knew we could find a better way,” says RMS partner Drew Fulton. What started off as a way to make cocktail mixers, like ginger beer, led them to make a line of better sodas as well. With some cool and different flavors like Evergreen Elderberry and Palisade Peaches & Cream—all with just four ingredients, and lower sugar than its competitors, they have cornered a place in the ever expanding beverage market.

6. Decadence Gourmet Colorado-Style Southern Chow-Chow
Grand Junction

This condiment is a conversation starter. It is perfect on anything from baked potatoes to grilled chicken, but be prepared ’cause it is H-O-T! Using a 200-yearold Southern relish recipe, Lee Mathis at Decadence Gourmet foods “tweaked” the recipe to include tomatillos and ghost peppers, winning first place in the Condiment/Specialty category of the 2015 Chile Pepper Awards. The flavor of this chow-chow is one you will never forget.

7. Trü Pickles

Three years ago Greg Skufca dusted off his Austrian grandmother’s recipe and started pickling. Now, his company, Trü Pickles, uses fresh cucumbers to make pickles every three weeks. With “nothing fake about it,” the pickles are fresh packed—meaning everything in the jar goes in dry. “They don’t float in a 500-gallon hot tub of brine outside,” says Skufca. That makes them crisper. “I will go against anyone taste-wise with our pickles. Our secret and it’s not that big of a secret, is we put a grape leaf into every jar. That preserves the green color and the crispness of our pickles.” Today Trü Pickles is distributed all across America, with flavors such as Smoked Black Pepper, Kosher Dill, Bread and Butter, and a pickle-based Bloody Mary mix.

8. New Avalon Cider

Peak Spirits Distillery and Jack Rabbit Hill Wines have a new sister brand: New Avalon Cider. “The cider is a natural extension for us, given CapRock gin is apple based,” says owner Lance Hanson. “We’ve given lots of attention to working with apples.” A new take on an old tradition, Hanson says that their cider making is greatly informed by distilling and wine making, giving this unique cider an appeal more of wine than beer. The first is called Pale Cider, a single-orchard cider made with Jonathan, Braeburn and Winesap apples, as well as a touch of hops and rosebuds grown on the property. “These are dry ciders,” he says. “It’s complex with a heavier mouthfeel than most ciders, in line with the European traditions. It’s refreshing and food friendly.”

9. Olde Man Granola

Shortly before Trevor Plaza, 30, was born in Africa, his mother began searching for a breakfast cereal similar to what she had grown up with in the United States. Unsuccessful, she instead sourced oats, nuts and fruit and began to make her own granola. Upon return to the States, Trevor’s mom made a batch to sell at a church fundraiser. Within a month, people who had heard about or tasted her granola were calling from other states looking to buy. Today Trevor and his parents continue creating granola and have recently added “Great Meal,” a hot oatmeal-granola hybrid, to their product line. One reason for the granola’s success is the use of butter, says Plaza. “Butter helps the body absorb the nutrients found in the oats, and it tastes better. Every bag you open tastes fresh.”

10. Temerity Chocolates

Originally launched as Aspen Fine Chocolates, last year Marina Chiasson’s chocolate company rebranded itself as Temerity Chocolates. What began as a way to re-create the truffles young Marina would enjoy while visiting her mother’s Swiss homeland has turned into a business that continues to expand and gain loyal followers. This year, Chiasson, an Ecole Chocolat–trained Master Chocolatier, launched chocolate bars, and hot chocolate. “I get to work every day with a passion of mine, in an industry I love,” she says.

11. Diego’s Hot Chips

When company executives at Open Road Snacks saw the need for a domestically made spicy potato chip, they jumped into the pot. Diego’s Hot Chips come in three flavors: Red Chile, Habanero and a spicy barbecue flavor called Fuego. The company makes the popular Rocky Mountain Popcorn, so it has 30 years of experience adding great flavors to some of our most basic snacks. With a spicy flavor that promises to make your “taste buds represent,” Diego’s has found a welcoming community in Colorado and throughout the Southwest.

12. Artisan Sugars

Looking for a way to spice up your coffee, tea or cocktails? Artisan Sugars are flavorinfused, stylish sugars made with natural ingredients. They add an eye-catching and aromatic touch to any beverage that could benefit from a sweet addition. The company’s products are meant to look as good as they taste. The Winter Collection includes chestnutcolored Butter Rum Hearts, Red Velvet Cake Roses, white Peppermint Polar Bears and white Irish Cream Snowflakes. The company was founded by Denise Cook, a once-upon-a-time software engineer who was inspired by the exquisite detail of stylish wrapped sugar cubes served daily in Parisian Cafés. “I fell in love with the balance of both glamour and modern design that these cubes represented,” she says. Soon after, she brought the idea to Colorado and Artisan Sugars was born.

13. Marble Distilling Co.’s Moonlight Expresso

Moonlight EXpresso: A family recipe from owner Connie Bakers’s mom, Marble Distilling Co.’s coffee liqueur is a modern take on an Old World recipe. Inspired by the Italian craftsmen who worked long hours in the Marble quarry, Moonlight EXpresso is a complex, dark-roasted coffee liqueur that blends the sweetness of vanilla bean and natural cane sugar with cold-brew coffee from Carbondale’s Bonfire Coffee Co. The result is a most intense, dark coffee flavor. Perfect over the rocks with a splash of cream and shaved chocolate for your next aperitif or dessert drink—or both.

14. Stinkin’ Good Green Chile
Castle Rock

Mark Schlereth’s “Stinkin” Good Green Chile is really David Bloom’s Stinkin’ Good Green Chile. Mark Schlereth is Bloom’s pal and a former Denver Broncos guard and ESPN football analyst who loved it so much that he decided to add his face and name on the product, which comes in vegetarian, chicken and pork (medium and hot). One benefit of a great product with a celeb endorsement is the opportunity to do more than just sell green chile. Stinkin’ Good gives 10 percent of its profits to charities and nonprofits. They also partner with nonprofits, charitable organizations, schools and churches on fundraisers throughout Colorado.

15. De La Chiva Dairy

If you love goat cheese as much as we do, you must try the cheeses from De La Chiva Dairy. This small, family-owned and -operated goat dairy with more than 150 goats, offers soft chevre (both sweet and savory) and several styles of Crottin cheeses, one of which, its Challows, was featured this past summer in a cheese seminar by Laura Werlin at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. While not certified organic, De La Chiva Dairy goats are handraised from birth, fed high-quality, local hay and grain and feed on green grasses seasonally. “We have a closed herd, meaning we are raising all of our own goats from birth. That way we can structure our genetics in a way to produce milk with high butter fat content and with a really good taste,” says Kathy Doty, owner.

16. The Real Dill

If you love both dill and a great Bloody Mary, then The Real Dill’s Bloody Mary Mix will hit the spot. You can add vodka or drink it straight from the bottle— it’s that good! The mix has been the subject of rave reviews. It was started by Justin Park and Tyler Dubois, a couple of guys who for years each made pickles on his own and shared recipes and notes. When they finally got around to making a batch together with ingredients from Tyler’s garden, they had “a pickle epiphany” and started the company. Their Bloody Mary Mix is in fact the only product they make that isn’t a jar of pickles, although it was inspired by their Habanero Horseradish Dills.

17. Smith Fork Ranchmade Granola

At Smith Fork Ranch, they make a granola so tasty that guests have it shipped back to their homes. Made with honey, molasses, olive oil, oats, salt, almonds and sometimes pistachios and walnuts, this wildly popular creation of Smith Fork chef Marcus Parrot is finally available for purchase. “Our guests say it’s the best granola they’ve ever tasted and we think it is, too,” says SFR owner Linda Hodgson. At $6 per bag, Smith Fork Ranchmade Granola can be ordered by calling the ranch at 970.921.3454.

18. Gigi’s Gourmet Dilly Dilly Dip

Need a quick go-to for your next party? Gigi’s Gourmet Dilly Dilly Dip, made outside Colorado Springs, is a lightweight, dry dip mix made with fresh dried dill, onion, celery salt and parsley. It can be mixed quickly with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to create a dip, or add it to soups or potato salads. With bright flavors and endless ways in which to prepare, Dilly Dilly Dip is perfect for last-minute preparation or packed for a predinner backcountry dish.

19. Overkill Hot Sauce

Leslie Howard has spiced up her repertoire of salsas recently with a new line of hot sauces. Meet Your Maker, Dance with the Devil and Multiple Personalities include habanero, jalapeño, scorpion, Carolina Reaper and serrano peppers to create a memorable experience. New to the line is Eve’s First Kiss, a strawberry-Carolina Reaper hot sauce, of which only 96 bottles were made. New styles will be released in the future. “I’m on a roll,” says Howard, who is quickly becoming very well known in this particular salsa category.

20. Strongwater Small Batch Spirits & Botanicals

As consumers seek out more authentic and natural flavor enhancers to add to their beverages, shrubs and bitters, with origins dating back to colonial days, have experienced a modern-day comeback within the culinary and craft cocktail world. Strongwater Botanicals makes colonial-style sipping vinegars composed of apple cider vinegar infused with fruit, herbs and honey. The sipping vinegars can be paired with your favorite liquor, added to soda water or sipped daily as a health tonic. Strongwater also makes herbal bitters extracted in grain alcohol that help with cravings and digestion, supporting the liver, spleen, gallbladder and pancreas. Taken around mealtime, you can use bitters to spice up ginger ale or a favorite cocktail. It’s sipping vinegars and bitters that bridge the gap between the classic medicinal and cocktail botanicals with dynamic flavors made from small-farm sourced, organic ingredients.


Article from Edible Aspen at