Fresh Fruit Products from Ela Family Farms
It’s such a bummer not to find fresh fruit at the Boulder Farmer’s Market yet. Thankfully, Ela Family Farms is there to provide us with fresh fruit products, which is the next best thing!
Ela Family Farms provides organic applesauce, jams, jellies, fruit butters and dried fruit this time of year. Come July or August, they’ll start selling fresh fruit. All of their products are made solely with the fruit from their organic farm.
The 100-acre Ela family farm is located in Hotchkiss, CO, and for a fruit orchard, that’s relatively small. This, along with over 100 years in fruit-growing experience, has allowed the Ela family to focus on growing great fruit. The philosophy behind their product is that the fruit is always picked at its peak.
Steve Ela, fourth generation farmer and operations manager, said he decided to carry on the family business because it combines everything he loves. While the farm has been in business since 1907, they started selling at the Boulder Farmer’s Market about 11 years ago.
“The wholesale market is now a global market, not a Colorado market,” Ela explained. “Being a small farm, we’re not going to be the lowest cost producer. Farmer’s markets have allowed us to find a way to sell premium products and market them directly to people.”
Ela said the family enjoys their customers and seeing familiar faces each week. Farmer’s markets also allow the family to pick the fruit a few days later, since it doesn’t have to go through a distribution process. Therefore, Ela said the produce tastes fresher and riper.
Ela said the most popular item at the market tends to be the peaches, and this time of year, it’s the peach jam. Boulder loves their peaches!
“We use a reduced sugar recipe, so you get a lot of that peach flavor,” Ela said. “Most commercial jams are about 50/50 with the peaches and sugar. We’re about 80/20.”
Ela Family Farms also sells a lot of organic applesauce, which is just one ingredient – apples.
“That’s the kind of applesauce we had growing up, no sugar added. If you start with great fruit, you don’t have to add much. Let the flavor speak for itself, don’t cover it up,” Ela said.
The Ela family started making jams and applesauce back around 2000 as a way to use their ‘cosmetically challenged fruit,’ as Ela put it. This expanded what they could offer, so they had products to sell at the market all season. They’ve been a huge hit.
Ela said he likes the variation of their products, because he doesn’t want to be eating one thing all the time. Some of his favorites are the Jonathan applesauce and plum jam, for the tartness, and the dried peaches.
When I was at the market last, I tried the sundried tomatoes and loved them! Next time you’re at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, stop by their booth. They’ve got samples of an array of their jams and dried fruit right now.
Ela said depending how the rest of spring goes, he hopes to have cherries at the market by 4th of July, followed by peaches, plums and tomatoes, apples and pears.