Can-It-Forward Day, Corn Relish Recipe + A Giveaway

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The 5th annual Can-It-Forward Day is Saturday, August 1stCan-It-Forward Day offers live, free webcast of home canning demonstrations, free recipes and more. The event encourages gardeners & food enthusiasts across the country to celebrate what “Made From Here” means to them by fresh preserving their favorite local ingredients in peak season.canitforward

Over the past five years Can-It-Forward Day has helped tens of thousands of people learn to can, by showcasing the simplicity of home canning and spotlight “Made from Here” recipes. In celebration we are giving away two $25 credits to Fillmore Container and a copy of Ball’s new Blue Book the 37th Edition (enter below).

This year four blogger ambassadors from across the country will share their preserving expertise during the live Can-It-Forward webcast:

The blogger ambassadors will each share a unique preserving recipe, special to their communities using delicious, seasonal produce like Sweet and Tangy Pickled Blueberries, Apple-Blueberry Jam and Green Tomato Relish during the webcast. The webcast will have an integrated chat function where consumers can submit their home canning questions to be answered in real time

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Tune in to a live webcast of canning demonstrations at www.FreshPreserving.com from 11:00am – 4:00pm EST.
  • Enter our giveaway by telling us how you are celebrating Can-It-Forward Day (enter below).
  • Host a canning party on Saturday, August 1.
  • Share your home canning creations, tips and tricks via social media with the hashtag #canitforward.
  • Try a new canning recipe. See the Corn Relish recipe below, or find something new on one of our Pinterest boards.









Corn Relish

(Recipe from www.FreshPreserving.com)

Ingredients: (Measurements with * are for a half batch)Corn Relish

2 cups white vinegar  – * 1 cup
2/3 cup sugar  – *1/3 cup
1 Tbsp.  – *1/2 Tbsp.
4 cups cooked corn kernels (about 8 ears) – *2 cups or 4 ears
2 cups diced mixed red and green bell peppers (about 2 large) – *1 cup
¾ cup diced celery (about 2 stalks) – * 1 stalk
½ cup finely chopped onion (about 1 small) – *1/4 cup
1 Tbsp. dry mustard – *1/2 Tbsp.
1 tsp. celery seeds – *1/2 tsp.
1 tsp. ground turmeric – *1/2 tsp.
6 (8 oz.) half pint canning jars with lids and bands  – * 3 (8 oz.) jars & lids

Directions:

Prepare boiling water bath canner. Heat jars and lids (if needed) in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add corn, red and green peppers, celery, onion, mustard, celery seeds and turmeric. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Ladle hot relish into hot jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until it is fingertip tight.

Process filled jars in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Can-It-Forward Giveaway

We will randomly select two lucky winners. Each will receive a $25 store credit to Fillmore Container and a copy of Ball’s new Blue Book the 37th edition. Hurry, this giveaway ends on August 2, 2015 at midnight.

 

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The reCAP Flip is Here!

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The maker of reCAP, introduced us to their new, innovative cap to turn Mason jars into limitless possibilities. From on-the-go meals to pantry storage to a multi-purpose shaker, the reCAP Flip is a BPA-free plastic cap that ‘flips’ to a large 2” opening. An optional accessory pack includes a counter ring to track contents, and two different sizes of screens to transform jars into shakers for parmesan cheese, hot pepper flakes, spices, flour, corn-starch and more.

FLIP_Silver_CottonBalls

ReCAP creates products that repurpose Mason jars to reduce packaging waste, save money, and create multi-functional solutions. We love their mission and, so we currently carry the all the reCAP products, including the newest member of the family – the reCAP Flip!

We were able to test the new reCAP Flip before it launched and we quickly found out that it was perfect for helping to store food for the newest member of our family!BlogreCap Flip Caps and Pour Caps for Puppies

Upon our decision to add a puppy to our happy family, we received many useful tips from the breeders on how to help our little guy grow strong and healthy!

One was the importance of probiotics! Yes, it’s good for the dogs! We’d managed to keep our Milk Kefir grains that Amanda of Phickle graciously shared with us, so we began to use Milk Kefir to add moisture to his dry food. The reCAP works perfectly for pouring on just enough to wet his food.

The second was to add a little bit of pumpkin. Since pumpkin was very plentiful this year, we’ve been roasting it by the pan full every so often, scooping it into jars and freezing it. Our Flip Cap is so much easier & cleaner than unscrewing a lid at meal time.

BlogMason Jars Flip Cap with Counter for Puppies Fillmore Container

We’re also using the Counter with the Flip Cap for our Greenies – he only gets 1 a day – and the timing varies depending on when he needs something to occupy him for a bit. The Counter allows us to keep track so that he’s only getting what he should. The convenient counter ring can be used to date products or track contents.

We love adding  our homemade touch to our puppy’s diet and we’re loving the Flips and reCAPs! These fun toppers make feeding more convenient and more enjoyable for the kids to be involved and to take on some responsibility. We’ve found that we have less mess and less waste – both good things in our home!

The Giveaway

The creators of the Flip are giving away a Flip Cap & Accessory Kit to one lucky winner. Enter below.

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Marisa McClellan to Teach Tomato Canning Workshop + Giveaway

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Marisa McClellan author photo low resJoin local canning teacher and cookbook author Marisa McClellan for a tomato canning workshop at Christina Maser Co. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 25, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Reserve your tickets now.

Marisa McClellan, a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated farmers market shopper who lives in Center City Philadelphia, is the author of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round and Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces.tomatoes

At the three-hour hands on workshop, Marisa will teach attendees how to prep, cook, and can two styles of tomato preserves. Attendees will cold pack whole peeled tomatoes and do a hot pack of crushed tomatoes, so that participants can get a feel for the different techniques. Additionally, Marisa will talk about general canning safety and best practices.

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions, pick up canning supplies from the on-site shop, and get signed copies of Marisa’s cookbooks. Kids ages 13 and up are welcome to participate.

Get a sneak peek of Marisa in action. Watch her latest video about the canning process. Canning high acid foods, sugar’s role in canning & the advantages of making small batches.

Reserve your tickets for the Tomato Canning Workshop here.
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The Giveaway

Because we are such big fans of Marisa, and because we are pleased to support any local event that helps spread the love of canning, we are donating a Canning Kit to be raffled off to one lucky attendee. All attendees of the event will be entered to win the Canning Kit, so if you want a chance to win, sign up for Marisa’s tomato canning workshop.

The Canning Kit will include:

Stars and Stripes Giveaway

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Are you ready to celebrate the 4th of July in style? We think it’d be pretty great if you had some of our red & blue stars & striped straws for your celebration! They pair so lovely with our red and blue straw-hole lids, and our decorative lids. Add a Mason jar handled mug, whip up a batch of iced tea and you’ll be ready to celebrate in style!Patriotic Mason Jar Lids & Straws

A portion of the sales of our red, white and blue products benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  The Wounded Warrior Project, raises awareness of the needs of injured veterans. Help us support this worthy organization by shopping our patriotic products.

Giveaway

Enter your chance to win a jar of our red & blue stars & striped paper straws (which are made in the USA) using the Rafflecopter entry form below. Good Luck!

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Why Our New Fourth Burner Pot is Perfect for Preserving + Giveaways

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We were first introduced to the Fourth Burner Pot by our friend, Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars. She used the pot during a couple demos she did at Fillmore Container, and we were intrigued by it’s multi-tasking ability. (Psst…we are giving away 2 $50 store credits to Fillmore Container on her blog this week, go enter here!)4th Burner Pot Product Image

Why we love the Fourth Burner Pot, and why you will too:

  • The Fourth Burner Pot has a 3-quart capacity;
  • It includes a steamer basket, with a silicone-covered handle on both pot and steamer basket;
  • The pouring spout and glass top with holes makes for easy straining;
  • Turn the lid to close spout to keep liquid inside while cooking;
  • Interior fill marks for easy measuring;
  • It’s dishwasher safe.Blog4th Burner Pot

We think this tall and thin stainless steel pot is a versatile superstar! It’s great for making pickles, because you can heat the brine in it and then pour it directly into the jars. And because it’s got that rack, it makes a terrific small batch canning pot. The basket will hold 3 half-pint Elite jars stacked…yes, it’s okay to stack jars when water bath canning (within reason).4th Burner Pot Markings

Of course, it has lots of great uses beyond preserving; it can double as a tea kettle. The size of the pot is perfect for steaming asparagus, and other vegetables. Use it to make a small batch of soup or gravy, or even to brew a batch of summer tea concentrate.

The Giveaway

We are pleased to introduce this new pot to our product line-up, and so we are giving one away to a lucky winner. Enter using the Rafflecopter entry form below.

We have two other giveaways going on this week too!

  • Win a $50 store credit to Fillmore Container over on Food in Jars.

Good luck!
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June Jamming Giveaway with Pomona’s Pectin

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It’s time to jump into jamming season, and we’ve partnered with Pomona’s Pectin to help you get started.June Jamming Giveaway

Two very lucky winners will receive

Pomona’s Pectin is a sugar-free, preservative-free, low-methoxyl citrus pectin. If you are looking for a way to cut back on the sugar in your preserves, this is the pectin for you! It allows you to sweeten jam & jelly to your taste with low amounts of any sweetener.

The book, Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin, boasts recipes for more than 70 jams, jellies, preserves, conserves and marmalades…all with intense natural flavors without all of the added sugar!

Pomonas Basics

The book is filled with tips on making the best out of your preserving experience, wisdom on how to safely and effectively customize your recipes and color images to inspire you! For instance, this chapter takes on some of the science of canning preserves in a thorough, but manageable level. If you feel like you’re new to canning, it’s written in such a way that the idea of trying a different pectin isn’t overwhelming. There’s even a table that gives weight and unit or volume equivalents. For example – if your recipe calls for a pound of kiwi, about how many kiwi will that be? Well, according to their chart, 5 – 6 medium kiwis. I do have a scale in my kitchen, but this is even more helpful for me when I’m heading to the market or am trying to determine whether or not I have enough fruit on hand for a particular recipe.Pomona's Jam

Here are a few jam recipes where we’ve enjoyed using Pomona’s Pectin:

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Vanilla Preserves

Strawberry Jam

Low Sugar Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Sweet Cherry Vanilla Jam

Pear-Cranberry Conserve with Almonds and Crystallized Ginger

Pear Vanilla Jam with Honey

Sunrise Marmalade

Gingered Lemon-Fig Preserves

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Two very lucky winners will receive

This Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada, 18 years and older. Everyone gets 2 free entries; additional entries are also possible. The entry dates are from June 10 through June 17, 2015. Winners will be randomly chosen. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond or we will choose new winners. The names of the winners will be posted on the Pomona’s Pectin website blog 48 hours after the giveaway ends.

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below. 
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How to Preserve Chives

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How to make the most of your chive patch.

Our herb garden has expanded over the past several years as we’ve added new varieties and enlarged patches of those we really enjoy fresh or those that preserve well. This spring, our Chive patches sort of caught me off guard! All of the sudden, they were covered with lovely blossoms and I felt compelled to be a little more intentional in getting more out of them – and wasting less!

I must admit, I garden for the joy of seeing things grow as much for what we can eat out of it…and although we do have a patch in the herb garden, I also have several patches in with our non-edibles so I don’t see it as a total waste if some don’t get eaten! I will often grab several sprigs of chive to throw into meals if I’m already out gathering other fresh herbs, onions or greens – for salads, soups, sauces, eggs, etc. They’re so easy to add to just about anything, but that kind of use just won’t keep up with their growth.

How to Make Chive Blossom Infused Vinegar:

Chive Blossom Vinegar

I was inspired by this post of Marisa’s for dealing with my chive blossoms.  It took but a few minutes to put together.  I cut the blossoms from my garden, snipped the stems off once inside, rinsed the blossoms well and took them for a spin in my salad spinner to get as much of the moisture off as I was able. Then I simply found a jar that they’d comfortably fit into, put them in and poured white vinegar over them. I like to keep some of our French Square jars on hand for projects like these because it’s just a pretty presentation – nice for gifting, and they’re more pour-friendly than my mason jars. ChiveBlossomVinegarCollageAfter I was satisfied with the hue and aroma, I poured the vinegar through a very fine strainer (you could line a regular strainer with cheese cloth), put it back into my French Square Jar & capped it.  I sent the spent blossoms to the compost since I still have blossoms coming on. If you were so inclined, you could try one of these recipes using chive blossoms, but I’m not sure how much of the vinegar would impact the end flavor. Perhaps I’ll try some of those recipes for the next fresh cutting!

Preserving your Chives:Frozen chives jarred

Freezing chives is so easy, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before!

After you’ve trimmed your chives, wash your chive leaves and slice or chop them into pieces. I keep mine as small as possible because that’s just the way I like them. This is also helpful if some of them are a little on the tough side.  BlogSlicing chivesSpread them out on a lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer for about an hour – or until they’re frozen.  TIP – lining it with a silpat, wax paper or parchment makes them easier to manage when transferring them to another container. chives ready to freeze

After they are frozen, carefully & quickly (so those tiny tubes don’t defrost) use the liner to pour them into a freezer safe container. Put an air-tight lid on and place them back into the freezer.  Frozen and Jarred Chives ReCap pour capThis is a great way to use a ReCap Pour Lid. My only one not in use was still in the dishwasher when I jarred the frozen chive, so when it was done, I quickly replaced my regular lid with the ReCap. (I guess I need to get a couple more!)  It is air tight and with the nifty flip & pour spout, I can quickly and easily pour what I need and get those little guys back into the freezer!

Drying chives also works well. If you have a dehydrator, it’s a breeze – but remember that you may need the tray with much smaller holes so your pieces don’t fall through.  You can also simply dry them in the sun, as Sarah does here.  I chose the freezing because I wasn’t able to babysit the trays outside – our squirrels and birds are brazen creatures who lack table manners.  I may try to dry my next batch, along with some of my other herbs in the attic above our garage as it’s protected, but gets hot and dry. My concern is that it may dry things too quickly. I’ll let you know how that turns out!

For herbs that don’t dry well, we share how to freeze them in olive oil here.

I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to preserve and use herbs from your gardens!

Strawberry Jam Recipes and More

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We are happily welcoming strawberry season here in Lancaster, PA. If you can get your hands on some fresh berries, here are a few ways to preserve that irresistible taste for later!Strawberries

Hooked on the Vanilla Bean?

Reducing your Sugar?

Looking for something really different?

How are you preserving your strawberries?

Low Sugar Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

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Our friends at Pomona’s Universal Pectin wanted to share this Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam recipe with us. The Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam is a low-sugar or low-honey cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. It is an early summer classic – nice combination of tart and sweet. Feel free to use other sweeteners that measure like sugar or honey in this recipe. For example, you can use a stevia product that measures like sugar. You can also use a different liquid sweetener, like agave or maple syrup. We enjoyed the jam with some garlic chevre on flat bread. Yum!Strawberry Rhubarb Jam in Action

We cut back on the sugar by ½ a cup of sugar (only used 1 ½ cups sugar) and it was sweet enough for us. We wanted to get more of the real fruit taste, and less sweetness. We’ve made a note to try and cut the sugar back even more next time we make this recipe, since it was still sufficiently sweet, even with our first-round modification. We also cut back on the pectin too, we only used ½ a teaspoon of pectin, we wanted a softer jam that was more of a spreadable preserve, so it was perfect for us. However, we opened up a jar to test the set several days later, and I’d recommend using the full amount of pectin suggested in this recipe – especially if you want a notable set.  We are happy with our soft jam, but we know others like a firmer set.

Strawberry-Rhubarb JamRhubarb Stalks & Strawberries

Yield: about 5 cupsPomonas Calcium Water Label

Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Ingredients:

2 cups mashed strawberries (about 4 cups whole strawberries)
2 cups cooked rhubarb (chop rhubarb, add a little water, cook until soft, measure)
2 teaspoons calcium water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup up to 1 cup honey or ¾ cup up to 2 cups sugar
2½ teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder

Directions:

1. Wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan; cover and heat to a simmer. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use.

2. Wash, remove hulls, and mash strawberries. Rhubarb Stalks & Strawberries

3. Prepare rhubarb (cook until soft with a little water).Prepare rhubarb. Measure fruit into sauce pan.

4. Measure fruit and add into saucepan with cooked rhubarb.

5. Add calcium water and lemon juice and mix well.

6. Measure sugar or room temperature honey into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into sweetener. Set aside.Pomona's Pectin Powder and Sugar

7. Bring fruit mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sweetener mixture, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.Fruit Cooking

8. Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Note: We used both our Orchard Road lids and our bulk lids. You can see the difference in room for labeling your jars. Put filled jars in boiling water bath canner and cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened and refrigerated.
Jam jars in canner

Note: If you’re not sure if your jam is sweet enough, taste it after the pectin is dissolved and jam has come back up to a boil. Not sweet enough? Add more sweetener and stir 1 minute at full boil.

How to Win a Blue Ribbon for Canned Goods at the Fair

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Veteran judges, Louetta Hurst and Vicki Becker, have seen their share of judging. They’ve shared their expertise at many local & county fairs and we caught up with them at the PA State Farm Show. For a couple of years, now, we’ve been participating in the PA State Farm Show. (You can read about all of the fun we had at our Preservation Station here.) This year, however, I was invited to attend the judging portion of the Home Canned & Preserved Goods, and you can bet I didn’t turn down that invitation!

Judging Pickles 2015 PA Farm Show

While we weren’t able to catch the judging for all of the Preserved Goods Class, we were able to observe and listen in as throughout the judging process and after placements were assigned, could discuss the details of why some won and others didn’t. We know that as you gain confidence in your canning, you may want to try your hand at your local fair and wanted to share some tips with you.

Before the tips, though:

Judging is tougher than many imagine. Judges are governed by the descriptions, rules and classes published in the Fair Books. Please take it easy on them!

Judging Tomato Ketchup 2015 PA Farm Show

These first 4 tips apply to all canning entries:

Use New Rings

  • Even though your preserved goods should be stored without the rings, their presence is required in order to enter them. Thus, they become part of what is judged. Judges don’t like rust. If they see rust on a lid/jar, it is out of the running, no matter how lovely the contents appear.

Start with Quality Produce

  • Use Premium Produce: Bruised or blemished products can be unpredictable during preservation – especially when it comes to appearance & texture.
  • Use Ripe Produce: Both under-ripe and over-ripe produce can result in less than perfect end product – in appearance, texture and taste.

Pack your Produce Well

  • Take extra care with how you pack your produce into your jars. If you’ve passed the ring test, the general appearance of your product is up next. They won’t even get around to opening your jar if it doesn’t look like a potential winner.
  • Headspace – if you’re here, you know what this is. Be sure that you’ve got the proper headspace for the contents, size of jar and process.

Don’t Cheat – This may seem obvious, but every year, there are entries that make this tip necessary.

  • Do not attempt to alter the color by adding colorants – natural or artificial. If the contents appear to be artificially altered, the entry is out.
  • Do not under-process in attempt to maintain texture or color. Certain types of produce just don’t handle high temperatures for the duration required and they fade. This will happen. Judges know this and are naturally suspicious of entries that exhibit colors or textures that are out of the norm.

Pickled Items:

Judging Pickled Mixed Vegetables 2015

  • Crispness (find some tips on maintaining your crisp factor here)Judging Dilly Beans Crispy PA Farm SHow
  • Proper Size – for the jar, for the type of pickle, and be consistent.
  • Consistent length – If you’re cutting your produce, use our cutting board hack to ensure each piece is the perfect length. This is also helpful if measuring green beans for dilly beans!
  • Do not use those little pieces to fill in the top or to try to avoid floating. (Keep those for your “use at home” jars)
  • Have enough brine so that all contents are fully covered.
  • Good Taste. Yes, this is open to interpretation, but be sure it tastes like what it’s called.

Dilly Beans

Tomatoes:

Whole or Quartered Tomatoes 2015

feathering Tomatoes

Example of Feathering Tomatoes

We had some discussion on this – most fair books contain the category “whole or quartered tomatoes”. If you have the choice (based on your tomatoes) go with the whole. They tend to hold their structure better through the canning process and will “show” much better than the quartered.

  • Avoid feathering. This is often a result of over processing, but sometimes over-ripe produce. While it is important to follow the processing times, you’ll want to take care that you don’t allow jars to spend more time in the canner than required. *Please note: we are not suggesting that you cut any corners!
  • Coring: Cored tomatoes look nicer, but don’t hold their structure as well as ones that are not cored. If you decide to not core, simply place your cores toward the center of the jar so they’re not visible. It’s not cheating; it’s just placement & presentation.
Winning Tomatoes PA Farm Show

Winning Tomatoes 2015 PA Farm Show

Carrots, Corn, Peas:

  • Avoid Particles & Cloudiness– careful slicing, picking out fragments or broken pieces and not over-processing will help decrease both of these.

Carrots Not Good for judging BlogJudging Whole kernel corn 2015

Sauerkrauts & Relishes:

Blog1Judging Sauerkraut not good

There’s not enough brine in this jar of sauerkraut

  • Brine Coverage: Be sure that you have enough liquid present so that contents are not exposed.
Judging Sauerkraut better

More brine is evident in this jar of sauerkraut

Jams:

udging Strawberry Jam

  • Presence of seeds – most judges do not like seeds.  (I personally think that’s part of why I like jam over jelly, but I’m not a judge!)
  • Good Consistency – not too solid, not too runny
  • Chunkiness – small fragments of fruit is acceptable, but they frown on large chunks.
  • Clean lid – if there is jam on the lid, it would suggest that it was imperfectly handled during processing. They’re looking for a clean lid!

For some of you, this is where “Canning for your Home” and “Canning for the Fair” part ways. It’s really up to you how much effort you wish to invest. One exhibitor admitted that she sorted through bushels of beans in order to get enough of the perfect length for her fair jars.

We wish you the best as you preserve your foods this season – whether you’re canning to show at your local fair or stocking your pantry to feed your family. If you do enter and win, we’d love to hear from you! On the other hand, we certainly won’t pass judgement if you plan to stick to the simplicity of stocking a pantry of tasty goods!