The stay-at-home order has forced a lot of Coloradans to get creative with at-home recipes and limited pantry supplies. Rather than waiting in line at your local grocery store, these pantry staples from local small businesses are easily ordered online. Just as we are collectively helping smaller restaurants and bars, online shops need the same support. While spicing up your pantry can make meals a lot more appetizing, continuing to spread a strong sense of community is just as important.
The Lowdown: Merf’s is a Denver condiment company that creates all-natural sauces without preservatives. Currently, the online shop offers seven different hot sauces and one beer mustard. With catchy names like Electric Lime hot sauce and Peaches and Scream, each bottle has become a Colorado staple. Merf’s is also featuring an aptly named Pandemic Series of sauces — Pandemic Peach Sriracha, Social Distance Serrano, Stir Crazy Strawberry Hot and Bubonic Blueberry.
The Lowdown: Founded 10 years ago by Susie Hojel, Chile Crunch was the conception of her upbringing in Mexico City surrounded by a diversity of spices and chiles throughout the nation’s cuisine. This small-batch operation is made with a blend of roasted chiles, garlic, onion, herbs and spices—no preservatives, gluten or MSG. Popularly used as a topping — the chile crunch is versatile enough to add a spicy texture to every meal. This local company also offers a Mexican style Adobo rico — an Ancho chile sauce used to add smokiness to any meat marinade or braise — along with a chile de árbol infused oil —sparking subtle heat to any cheese plate, bowl of ramen or roasted vegetables.
The Lowdown: Based in Boulder, Bjorn’s honey varieties are made from front-range, small-batch raw honey. While most are accustomed to the small teddy bear honey from the grocery store, Bjorn’s infuses delicate flavors like Stranahan’s Whiskey, saffron, cinnamon and clover blossom into its liquid gold. Not only are the flavors unique but the preparation is as well — including varieties featuring chunks of honeycomb, whipped texture or as individual sticks. Aside from sweet honey for a cup of tea, the site also offers a full catalog of honey skincare products and beeswax candles.
The Lowdown: Sweet Viking was founded in 2016 with a thoughtful appreciation of pickled peppers and spicy relishes. These sweet and spicy toppings can be used simply to adorn a cracker with cream cheese or to spice up a burger recipe. From sliced sweet peppers and jalapeños to sweet and spicy relish —the online shop sells all four jars individually or combined in a variety pack.
The Lowdown: The Denver based duo Schmitty and Finn combined their passion for cooking and crafting both spicy and sweet recipes into a bottle of well-done sauce. “Just put your finger in it” results in a wash of sweet lingering heat. It goes well with practically everything from baby back ribs and fried chicken to over-easy eggs and chicken quesadillas. The universal sauce is sold online and shipped to your door.
The Lowdown: On Tap Kitchen Pretzels was inspired by drinking beer on an empty stomach. Crafted in Boulder, these shelf-sustainable pretzels are a go-to snack. With nine different flavors from the classic honey mustard and salted to some more unique flavors like Arabic coffee and spiced honey — each bag is available online and shipped directly to your door.
The Lowdown: The Spice Guy is an all-natural and award-winning spice blend company located in Colorado. With a catalog of over 35 different spice blends, the flavors are universally used for multiple meals. A few local restaurants like Bones, Luca and the Milk Market also infuse The Spice Guy blends into various recipes. At this time, the online shop is also offering an ultimate Won’t Stay Down spice box with four of the best blends for “quarantine food”— Not’Cho Cheese spice, Sweet Heat, Everything Bagel and Midnight Toker. Each blend has the flexibility to season cheese dip, add a sweet and spicy heat to burgers, dress up avocado toast and add a smokiness to chicken or tofu dishes.
The Lowdown: Founded in 1994, Casa Alvarez foods has provided the front range with flavorful family green chile recipes influenced by the heart of Jalisco, Mexico. The chile verde is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO with antibiotic-free pork. The vibrant chile comes in either pork or vegetable both with fire-roasted Anaheim chilies, poblano chilies and spices influenced from Mexico. Each package is sold online, shipped, ready to heat and eat in minutes.
The Lowdown: Let Thy Food is a 100% plant-based, paleo and vegan local company selling jars of queso, salsa, smoky cheddar and spinach artichoke dip, ranch dressing and four flavored parmesan seasonings. This local company continues to lead the way and blaze new trails when it comes to crafting vegan alternatives to snack food. Each product can be found online and ships directly to your house.
The Lowdown: Elevation Gourmet sells organic ketchup and bloody mary mix that’s handcrafted in Denver with all-natural, vegan and gluten-free ingredients. Founder Aaron Wagner adapted his great-great-grandmother’s recipe passed down from generations and in 2012, he launched Elevation Gourmet. These familiar ketchup bottles can be found in countless restaurants and bars all over the state. The online shop sells all four flavors — original, restaurant-style, no added sugar, Sriracha and Vindaloo.
The Lowdown: The Real Dill offers artisan pickles and bloody mary mix made by hand in Denver. Though these pickles have gained national fame through People Magazine and the Tasting Panel Magazine — the hometown pride still remains. The online site offers a plethora of bottled pickles —including habanero horseradish, jalapeño honey, spicy Caribbeans, caraway garlic, and Thai chile ginger — as well as green chile hot sauce and bloody mary mix. Sunday brunch at home is still possible with The Real Dill.
The Lowdown: Founded in 2015, PB Love Co. was created with the desire for natural and nutrient-dense peanut butter. A mix of roasted peanuts, Vietnamese cinnamon, coconut oil and sugar, sea salt, blackstrap molasses, Colorado honey and roasted almond is stone-ground to minimize heat breakdown and maximize flavor. The result is a mixture of smooth and crunchy textures — coined as ‘smunchy.’ The online store offers salty peanut, classic crunchy, classic creamy, smooth and cinnamon almond in individual jars along with varieties of packs including Work and Class pepper jam and crackers.