Drinkable gardens

Using local ingredients to cool off this summer

Jenna Switzer of Juiced Organic Market and Juicery
Photo by Susan France

Local and homegrown foods have been a fad in Boulder for so long they’ve become passé — they’re the fodder of restaurant menus across the city. But the local food movement isn’t confined to your entrees. It’s a drinkable movement, too, that’s found its way into juices, teas and adult beverages around the county.

Paul Wright is new to Boulder — only a few months of residency. He stands just under 6 feet tall with reddish-blond hair and speaks with the slight drawl of a former Southerner. Wright moved to Boulder intending to open a restaurant that used only organic and locally sourced foods.

He did just that, opening Juiced Organic Market and Juicery in mid-May.

Wright was not initially the organic aficionado that he is today. His desire to cook with organic food developed while he was a restaurant owner in his home state of Louisiana.

He came to Boulder to make food for people who he thought would appreciate it.

“I would explain it to my partners and they would say, ‘You’re doing what? You’re doing an organic juice bar? Why?’ ‘Because there are people out there that do care about that,’” Wright says.

It isn’t possible to have an entirely local smoothie bar in Colorado due to the state’s inability to produce important tropical fruits like pineapples and bananas, Wright points out, but he does attempt to use every local item that he can, like locally made Noosa yogurt.

“I can’t wait till the summertime when I’ve got all of the local melons,” Wright says. “We will do an apple-melon smoothie that is all local.”

Although Wright currently does not grow his own food, he says he has mulled over the idea of starting a garden to supplement his restaurant or producing his own almond milk.

“That would be so cool, wouldn’t it?” Wright says. “That’s what it’s about anyway — getting your food from as close to the source as you possibly can. It’s what I believe in.”

Fruits and vegetables are important to Wright’s homemade drinks, but herbs and flowers can be used just as easily in beverages — and some ingredients can be found in your own backyard.

Rebecca Luna, owner and founder of Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary and Supply, gets quite a few of her supplies from nearby Colorado locales. She has agreements with local farmers, allowing her to gather plants that she can use in her store. Many of them become ingredients in herbal teas.

Luna says that she uses “Mints, chamomile, calendula (a member of the daisy family) … passion flower, monarda, feverfew” and other herbs for her herbal tea blends.

“With the herbal teas, we support our local farmers,” she says. “It’s a seasonal thing — the amount that we get.”

Luna advised those who would like to grow their own ingredients for herbal teas to just look in their surrounding areas.

“I would look and see what grows really well here,” Luna says. “What is growing wild in the alleys? Your lemon balm and your mints. What’s growing naturally here and what’s abundant?”

Boulder Distillery, the home of 303 Vodka, mixes local ingredients into interesting cocktails. Brandi Schafer, CFO of Boulder Distillery, says that although the process for creating their spirits may not be unique, the way that they create their infusions and cocktails is special.

“The process is more my dad’s style and design, but when it comes to our cocktails and infusions, we really believe that fresh juices and fresh essences and herbs are a lot better than syrups and artificial flavorings,” Schafer says. “We believe in natural fruits to provide a much better flavor in everything that we do.”

Like Luna and Wright, most of the ingredients used are found locally. Almost all of the produce is gathered by going to farmers’ markets, she says.

“We get a lot of our cucumbers from farmers’ markets — strawberries as well,” Schafer says. “Most of our drinks are very seasonal, so when there are peaches or nectarines, we try to get them from the local farms and farmers’ markets, rather than a local grocery store chain.”

Schafer says that they don’t rely on one farmers’ market. The company travels to various farms and farmers’ markets in Boulder County to acquire produce for their drinks.

Dealing with similar seasonal issues as Wright, Schafer noted that many of the ingredients that they use changes depending on the season and availability of produce.

“Mainly the infusions are seasonal, for cost purposes, however we do try to get creative and invite customer suggestions for our infusions and drink ideas,” Schafer says. “Somebody suggested a blueberry mint the other day. … We try to make it a little bit more fun, complex and creative with our infusions.”

The infusion process at the distillery takes about a week, and the results are sampled to customers over a three-day period.

Schafer described her favorite cocktail served at the distillery — the “Shark Bite” — as a combination of a fruit-infused vodka that they have in stock, orange, pineapple and grapefruit juices, finished with cranberry, lime and lemon.

In the summer, whether they are smoothies, teas or cocktails, it is becoming just as easy to drink local as it is to eat local.

Juiced! Protein Power smoothie

1 cup organic strawberries
1 frozen organic banana
1 cup local Noosa honey yoghurt
1 tbsp. local Madhava honey
1 cup fresh squeezed organic apple juice
1 tbsp. flax seed
drizzle of honey on top, garnish with strawberry

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