Asparagus Season

Asparagus is in Season!
Fresh, local asparagus is now in season! As the weather warms up, asparagus begins to grow at a fast pace on farms across southern Idaho – growing as much as 6-8 ” on a warm spring day! Producers pick asparagus daily, cutting each stock by hand. You can find Idaho asparagus at retailers, farmers markets and on-farm stands across southern Idaho.
What to Look For: Thickness is a matter of taste, but whether you like thin spears or thick, stalks should be bright green and firm. Choose bunches with firm stalks, tightly closed tips and no flowering.
How to Store: Asparagus is best cooked the day it’s purchased, but it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days in one of the following ways: Wrap the bottoms of the stalks in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag and store in crisper, OR stand the bundled stalks in a bowl or jar with about an inch of water in the bottom.
Preparation: ​This first crop of spring is very versatile. It can be eaten raw, steamed, broiled, roasted or grilled and is great with or without added seasonings. For great asparagus recipe ideas go here.

Craft Beer Month in Idaho

April is Craft Beer month in Idaho.
This is the perfect time to drink local beer and also support Idaho hop farmers, barley farmers and Idaho’s craft breweries. The craft beer industry has been booming over the past few years. Idaho has over 50 breweries putting it 10th in the United States in terms of breweries per capita. Idaho breweries like Payette Brewing, Sockeye Brewing and Powderhaus Brewing use Idaho hops and malt barley.

Idaho is #1 in Malt Barley production in the U.S.
Idaho grows 34% of the nation’s total barley crop, of which more than 75% is malt barley. Barley is the soul of beer. Barley malt contributions to brewing include being a source of carbohydrates and protein, as well as providing enzymes to reduce carbohydrates to fermentable sugar and to reduce proteins. Barley is also a source of filter material for “Wort” clarification, and is a source of beer color and flavor. Barley malt provides the best package of all grains for brewing. A consistent supply of malt barley has attracted big companies such as Anheuser-Busch , Great Western Malting, MillerCoors and more to locate in Idaho. Watch this short video Budweiser created thanking malt barley farmers in Idaho.

Idaho is #2 in hop production in the United States. 
Idaho raises a large number of hop varieties. A majority of hops are grown in Southwest Idaho around Wilder, but some are grown in the cool, moist air near Bonners Ferry. The history of hops grown in Idaho dates back to the 1930’s.
Hops climb using sticky hairs to attach themselves to the string that is tied to a wire above. These tall finished plants are called bines. The hop bines are full of cones- the female cones are cleaned, dried, cooled and compressed into a hop bail that weighs around 200lbs. From there the bails are sent to a processing plant to be turned into pellets.

Mill95 is the first hop pelletizing plant in Idaho.
Mill95 is located on Hwy 95 in the center of Idaho’s hop growing region. Mill95 has two large cold storage facilities where they can store the hop bails and the finished product- hop pellets. From cold storage the hop pellets are sent to breweries to help flavor and create delicious beer.

This Outdoor Idaho video takes you on a virtual tour through Idaho from field to glass.

Eat Idaho-Grown Protein All Year Long

In Idaho you may not be able to eat local produce year around, but Idaho proteins like meat and fish are always available. Did you know, if you had to eat all of the beef produced within the state you would have to eat 2 lbs. of beef a day! Beef isn’t the only protein Idaho has to offer. Idaho is the top producer of trout in the United States raising nearly half of all farm raised trout.

Idaho Trout
Fish farms in southern Idaho rely on the 58 degree water full of oxygen to raise trout, sturgeon, caviar and more! Clear Springs Foods in Buhl has raised rainbow trout in concrete raceways since 1966.  Clear Springs Foods is the largest producer of rainbow trout in the world. Idaho trout can be found on the menus of restaurants around the United States.  Learn more about the process of Clear Springs Foods in this short video.
Fish Processors of Idaho also relies on this warm spring water in Hagermen. Leo and his wife Judith Ray began their catfish farm in California, and moved to Idaho in 1973 after learning more about the geothermal water in Southern Idaho. Fish Breeders of Idaho raises United States native blue and channel catfish as well as sturgeon, tilapia, Idaho caviar and trout. In 2003, Fish Producers of Idaho began raising trout for Whole Foods. Check out our recipe page for a variety of trout recipe idea.

Idaho Beef
Local beef can be found throughout the state – maybe because Idaho has more cows than people! Sisler Ranch in Gem County, Red Star Ranch in Jerome County, Desert Mountain Grass-Fed Beef in Elmore County, 24 West Ranch in Ada County, Weiser River Ranch in Adams County, Weiser River Signature Beef in the Weiser River Valley and Wood River Ranch Beef in Blaine County all offer locally packaged beef. Order directly from the farm for Idaho raised beef. Snake River Farms/Agri Beef, headquartered in Boise offers a variety of beef that can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home.  Check out our website for a complete list of Idaho farmers and ranchers near you for their contact information. 

Idaho Lamb
Gutierrez Family Farms raises grass fed lamb. They graze their ewes and lambs year-round on their small farm in Nampa, Idaho. They rotationally graze the flock through spring and summer months and preserve winter hay fields to provide year-round grazing. The hay they supplement for the ewes during lambing is harvested from their own fields. Lamb from Gutierrez Family Farms can now be found at the Broadway Albertsons. Look for their lamb on local restaurant menus like Fork, Remingtons and Capital Cellars. 

Idaho Deer
Black Pine Deer Farm in McCall started in 1998 and has continued to grow ever since. They are now licensed to process and market venison to restaurants, health-food stores and individuals desiring low-fat, low cholesterol, naturally produced venison free of hormones and feed additives. Other deer products, such as breeding stock, hides and antlers are also available. Look for their deer meat at the McCall Farmers Market and the Boise Co-op. 

Idaho Pork
In 2017 Idaho exported $3.4 million in pork products. Pork products can include a variety of items like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, pork sirloin, pork tenderloin and more! Snedaker’s Fine Swine in Cambridge raises all natural USDA pork. Find their pork products at the McCall Farms Market or order direct.
Independent Meat Co. also known to consumers as Falls Brand was founded in 1904. Their processing plant is located in Twin Falls. Look for their product in most retail stores across the states. Not sure what to cook for dinner? Check out Independent Meat Co. recipe page for a variety of ideas!


Next time you shop, look for local beef, lamb, pork, elk, chicken, trout and venison. Or, buy directly from the rancher. Find a full list of Idaho protein products here. Still hungry for more local ideas? Follow us on Facebook!

Give Local this Holiday Season

Idaho Preferred participants have made giving local easy this season with a variety of creative gift baskets. From wine to specialty foods, the variety is sure to satisfy even the pickiest person on your Christmas list. Buy a pre-made Idaho basket or create your own specialty foods gift basket with a variety of locally produced products. Find a complete list of Idaho Preferred specialty foods here.

Idaho Wine:
3 Horse Ranch, a winery nestled in the Eagle foothills, has a 3 bottle box set of white wines. These three wines come in a beautiful wooden gift box. Order here or pick up at the 3 Horse Ranch tasting room Wed-Sun 12-6 pm.
Fujishin Family Cellars has refillable Flagon Wine Growlers. Give the gift that keeps on giving and gift a growler full of Cabernet Sauvignon or 2014 Sunnyslope White Blend. The growlers can be refilled, and the wine options change periodically. Order here or pick up at their tasting room Mon-Fri 12-6 pm.
Huston Vineyards offers a two bottle wooden gift box for the perfect holiday gift. Order here or pick up at their tasting room Wednesday-Monday 12-5 pm. 

Idaho Beer:
Payette Brewing has three varieties of holiday beer: Twelve Gauge Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Salted Caramel and Mexican Chocolate. Make your own gift basket with these three beer varieties and matching Twelve Gauge Glassware. Pick up at their tap room- open daily from 11am-10pm.
Powderhaus Brewing sells a pre-made gift basket with beer, Powderhaus swag and more. Purchase at their taproom Mon-Thur 3-10 pm and Fri-Sat 12-10 pm.

Idaho Cheese:
Ballard Cheese offers a wide variety of gift baskets.  Try an Idaho cheese curds sampler box, a three cheese sampler box, or one of several more varieties.  Order online here before Dec.14th to assure delivery by Christmas.
Glanbia Nutritionals has created a variety of gift boxes.  Gift boxes that include cheese, crackers and Falls Brand ham variety packs; one pound cheese variety packs; or even a yearly cheese subscriptions can be found at the Glanbia Cheese Marketplace on Main street in Twin Falls.
Eden Creamery in Kuna has combined three soft goat cheese varieties into a unique gift pack for the person on your list that likes all things cheese! Order here.

Idaho Honey:
Cox Honey sells a variety of gift packs. Place your order here.
Rocky Mountain Honey Co. also offers and ships gift boxes. View their variety of gift options here .

Idaho Sweets:
Farr’s Candy Company has brought together 24 of their favorite chocolates to create an extra sweet gift box! Order this gift box today to make sure it makes it by Christmas.
Weiser Classic Candy offers a variety of holiday gift boxes. Check out their numerous gift box options here.
Sweet Valley Sugar Co. is happy to let you create your own gift box or choose one they have already assembled. Check out their Cookie Gift Packs here.
Homemade by Dorothy has created a unique all Idaho gift box – and its even in the shape of Idaho! This gift box includes a day of Idaho meals including Idaho Potato pancakes, Idaho potato soup, Idaho potato quick bread with huckleberry jelly to top it off. Order this all-Idaho gift here.
Idaho Candy Company: Nothing says Idaho more then a box of Idaho spud bars! Order here
Cowboy Tom’s Flapjacks are made the old fashioned way with a blend of dry ingredients and unprocessed grain. Do you have a breakfast lover on your list? Purchase a gift box with flapjack mix and syrup here

Idaho Mustard:
Wagner’s Idaho Foods has 10 varieties of mustard. Purchase a variety pack “The Three Mustard-teers” gift box or the “The Tingling Brothers” and spice up your gift giving this year.

If this is just too much to choose from, visit Idaho Gifts to Go on Main Street in Boise for a variety of gift baskets filled with Idaho products ready to put under the tree.

Thanksgiving Festivities at Idaho Wineries

Don’t let your holiday festivities end with Thanksgiving dinner. Start a new holiday tradition with a trip to Idaho wine country! Take your family and friends to the variety of beautiful wineries where you can meet the winemakers and taste their award-winning wines! Find a complete list of Thanksgiving weekend events here.

Fujishin Family Cellars– Thanksgiving Barrel Tasting.
Stop by Fujishin from 11am- 6pm for a barrel tasting November 23-25th. Tasting will be $5 for non-members and free for wine club members. Enjoy complimentary soup from The Orchard House while you sip.

Huston Vineyards– Thanksgiving Barrel Tasting Weekend.
November 23-24th from 12-5pm Huston Vineyards will host a wine tasting and food pairing event. Join owner Gregg Alger around the barrel for a discussion of the 2017 growing season. $10/person

Bitner Vineyards– Celebrate Thanksgiving with Wine and Food
Enjoy wine, food and a great view from 12-5pm November 23-24th. First 100 people Friday & Saturday will receive a Bitner Vineyards stemless wine glass with their wine tasting, and enjoy savory warm chili. $10/Non-member $5/club member.

Ste.Chapelle– Thanksgiving with Ste. Chapelle
Enjoy hourly tours, cheese & wine pairings and tastings straight from the barrel at Ste. Chapelle November 23-24th from 12-5pm. Enjoy appetizer wine pairings and a souvenir wine glass. $15 at the door

Indian Creek Winery– After Thanksgiving Sip ‘N Shop
November 23-24th from 11am-5pm, Indian Creek Winery will offer samples straight from the barrel to sip as you shop from local hand-made vendors. Be one of the first 300 guests and get a special holiday logo glass. $10/entry $5/wine club member

Sawtooth Winery– Thanksgiving Weekend
The fire place will be warm and cozy at Sawtooth Winery on November 23rd from 11am-8pm. Special deals on Sawtooth Sparkling Brut. Live music from 5pm-8pm!

October is Farm to School Month

October is National Farm to School Month and this year Idaho Preferred® will work to help schools in Idaho take part in this celebration by incorporating Idaho foods into cafeteria menus, offering classroom curriculum and suggesting physical activities.
We are encouraging Idaho schools to incorporate a local food in their breakfast, lunch or snack menus. Weekly themes have been created to help identify local foods that are easily accessible or may already be on the menus! Weekly themes include: Idaho grapes, Idaho melons, Idaho apples and Idaho potatoes!

Week 1 – Idaho Grapes

We kicked off Farm to School month with juicy table grapes! Did you know Idaho produces table grapes? Although a small agriculture industry, new growers are now starting to produce table grapes in Southern Idaho. Grapes in Idaho are harvested in late September through early October and are only available for about 4-6 weeks!

Student at Grace Jordan Elementary in Boise celebrated Farm to School with a harvest lunch that included: Idaho cheese, Idaho grown corn on the cob, Idaho grown grapes and local tomatoes grown at the Boise High Community Garden.

Kevin with Dry Creek Farms in Eagle attended the celebration and served the grapes. The kids thought it was pretty fun to have a farmer serving his own produce! The corn on the menu was from Tellez Farms in Nampa. The students had the opportunity to shuck the corn on the cob for their meal that day. Channel 2 News and Channel 7 News joined us at the harvest lunch that day. Watch the full news article here.

We also received pictures from other schools that are participating in the weekly themes. For example to the right is a picture we received of local grapes being served at Homedale Elementary School. Notus Elementary also shared pictures of local grapes being served and positive feedback from the students! 

Week 2 – Idaho Melons

Idaho produces a variety of melons including watermelon, cantaloupe and honey dew. Watermelon is the most common melon type in Idaho and is available through early fall. Over 60 schools in Idaho chose to serve Idaho grown melons last week!

Week 3 is Idaho Apples.
Apples are so easy to integrate into menus and kids love apples. Apples in Idaho are available the beginning of September and some varieties are still available through March. Idaho produces 60 million pounds of apples a year making apples Idaho’s top fruit.

Week 4 is Idaho Potatoes. Farm to School month will conclude with Famous Idaho Potatoes. Idaho Potatoes are available year around. Idaho raises a variety of potatoes- reds, russets, golds, fingerlings, and more. Nearly 320,000 acres in Idaho are potato fields!

2018 Farm to School drawing contest. 
In Idaho we love our potatoes and being active!  This year, we want students to draw a picture of the famous Spuddy Buddy doing their favorite physical activities (examples: skiing, dancing, rollerblading, etc).Students who send in a drawing will be eligible to win a prize, like a large Spuddy Buddy or workout shirt! Find the rules here.

More Fun Farm to School Events:

Shoshone School District celebrated this week with a Harvest Festival! They had a guest speaker come and teach the kids how to make cheese balls.
Gooding School District served farm fresh raspberries from Little D’s Berries in Gooding.
Notus Elementary School took 150 students to Blue Barn Produce to pick out small pumpkins in a self made pumpkin patch.
Blue Barn Produce offered teachers a discount on mini pumpkins for their classrooms and their students.

Idaho Preferred Retail Roadshow

We are hitting the road! Help us celebrate Idaho Preferred month by joining us on our second annual Retail Roadshow in September. We will be traveling to 23 retail stores throughout the state from Post Falls to Idaho Falls and Hailey to Preston promoting Idaho-grown produce and more.  September is the peak of harvest season giving consumers a wide variety of seasonal produce options at their local grocery store.  
You know that when you shop locally, you support Idaho!  Purchasing Idaho products not only supports Idaho farmers, producers and communities, it also provides fresh, high quality local products for consumers.
The first retail roadshow in 2017 resulted an increase in sales of fresh local produce by over $2.2 million – and we hope to beat that in 2018!  You can check out a list of what’s in season here.


During the Idaho Preferred Roadshow, shoppers will be able to:
Sample fresh local produce at peak flavor
Enjoy sale prices on Idaho products
Meet a local farmer
Pick up new Idaho recipe ideas
Learn fun facts about Idaho agriculture
Enter to win giveaways!

Follow us on Facebook for event information specific to the location. Tag @IdahoPreferred on your Retail Roadshow journey!

A Berry Sweet Season in Idaho

It’s Summertime – the weather is nice and that means Idaho grown berries, cherries and U-picks!

Strawberries are the first berry to come into season.When you buy strawberries make sure they are plump and red. Since strawberries don’t ripen after they’ve been picked, avoid dull-colored berries and ones with yellow or green patches on their skin. Rhubarb is also in season, which only seems appropriate for Idaho strawberry rhubarb crisp. Get creative and use Natures Indulgence Granola for a crunchy sweet topping.

The Idaho Blueberry will begin harvest in late June and run until the middle of July. The season is short for blueberries in Idaho-so don’t miss out when you shop! The Idaho Blueberry can be found in Albertson’s and Grasmick distributing for retail, schools and restaurants.
Lucky for us there are two seasons for raspberries in Idaho. Some varieties begin ripening around the end of June, just as strawberries are finishing up. Other varieties come on in August and are available until the first frost in the fall. Blackberries are the last berry to harvest around the middle of August. Blackberries are not grown commercially in Idaho, but many small farmers and backyard gardeners grow and sell them directly to consumers. Pick your own berries at The Berry Ranch in Nampa, or buy fresh berries on site at Vogel Farms in Kuna. Blue Barn Produce takes berry orders for flats of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries during the season. Enjoy berries year around by freezing them or making them into jams.

Cherry Season is short and sweet! Look for fresh Idaho grown cherries at the Farmer’s Markets and in retail stores. Always look for shiny, plump cherries with fresh green stems and dark coloring for their variety. Cherries can be used in a sweet dessert like Cherry Pie or as a savory topping to Idaho trout. Idaho Cherries from SYMMS Fruit Ranch can be found in retail stores or on site at their fruit stand, open Monday-Friday 10am-4:30pm and Saturday 9am-1pm. Purvis Orchard grows fresh cherries and sells them Wednesday’s at the Caldwell Farmers Market from 3-7pm and Saturday’s from 9am-1pm at the Nampa Farmer’s MarketTyler’s Rocky Point Orchard in Emmett, Northview Orchard in Buhl, Williams Fruit Ranch in Emmett and Kelly’s Canyon Orchard in Filer offer u-pick. Take your family, and let your kids experience picking fruit right from the tree. Pack a picnic and make a day trip out of it!

How to Store: Keep cherries unwashed and stems attached, in a paper bag, loosely-covered container, or loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.

Got IDAHO Milk??

June is Idaho Dairy Month, a time to celebrate Idaho’s #1 agriculture industry. Idaho is the fourth largest milk producing state in the United States and third in cheese production. Milk products produced in Idaho include cheese, butter, sour cream, yogurt and ice cream.

The Twin Falls Chobani plant is the largest yogurt plant in the world, producing the most popular Greek style yogurt in the US and also the innovative Chobani flip and Chobani drinkables. The Twin Falls plant uses milk from Idaho dairies, specifically those in the Magic Valley. Next time yogurt is on your grocery list, buy Chobani and  savor the local Idaho flavor!

Cloverleaf Creamery uses recyclable glass bottles to keep milk colder and fresher. Cloverleaf Creamery produces farm fresh milk, cream, butter and ice cream on their family farm in Buhl. You can find their product at retailers throughout the state.  However, if you are in Buhl don’t pass up the opportunity to stop by their creamery and taste one of over 20 flavors of delicious small batch ice creams.

Darigold manages one of the largest dairy co-ops in the world with several member dairy farmers located in Idaho. Darigold produces a variety of dairy products that are available in most retailers across Idaho.

Legendairy Creamery LLC, is a new creamery located in Meridian. They bottle their milk in a uniquely shaped plastic milk jug. Legendairy is a certified organic creamery that produces whole milk, 2% milk, half and half and old-fashioned cream top whole milk.

For more Idaho dairy product options, try Ballard Family cheeses,  Farr’s Ice Cream, Glanbia cheese, High Desert butter, Lactalis mozzarella cheese or Manwaring’s hand crafted specialty cheeses. Find a list of Idaho dairy products here.

Idaho has over 500 dairies, and they are all family owned. Milk you purchase arrives in the grocery store within just a day or so of when it left the dairy, providing a very fresh, wholesome and nutritious product for your family. Milk contains nine essential nutrients including protein, potassium and Vitamins A, D and B12.
With this abundant supply of Idaho milk and great variety of dairy products, buying Idaho milk, cheese, ice cream, butter is easy! Celebrate Idaho Dairy Month by buying local and showing your appreciation for Idaho dairy farm families!

Fun Facts:
Glanbia Nutritionals in Twin Falls has one of the largest cheese producing plants in the world.
Ballard Cheese LLC. in Gooding is a family owned business that makes all their cheese by hand from their small herd of Jersey Cows.
Farr’s Candy Co. in Idaho Falls which now produces ice cream from Idaho milk, has been family owned since 1911.
High Desert Milk, in Burley, a producer of high quality butter, originated in 2001 as six dairy producers with aspirations to create a stable market for their milk and develop dairy products that they could be proud of.
Manwaring Cheese Co. in Rigby, Idaho opened their first cheese factory in 1970.
Lactalis American Group, produces mozzarella cheese products in their Nampa plant that can be found under the Precious or Sorrento brand names in most local grocers.