Judging Preserves At The Alameda County Fair

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I was asked to be a judge at the fair. I’m very naive thinking I was going to taste some wonderful home made preserves. They had me tasting butters, marmalade, curds and hot sauces. They had other judges tasting jams, pickles, olive oils, honeys, relishes, chutneys, canned fruits and jellies. The butters had too much spice and sugar. I couldn’t taste the fruit. The marmalade had big pieces of peel, very bitter. The curd had the smell of eggs and you could see the egg whites. The hot sauce was in a new category for professionals. This is a category for people that sell their products and want to say they won in the Country Fair. We all know the first thing you do when opening a jar is look, smell and taste. The ” look”  you are looking for is bubbling and or mold. The “smell ” will be stinky if there is a problem. If a jar has bubbles, mold and smells bad please do not taste. After opening one of the hot sauces it started to look like a volcano, pouring out all over the table. This is a bad jar with a lot of bacteria built up inside. This could have happened because the room was warm. They had another category that was mixed fruit. This is where I found the best jar of the day. It was a Cherry Balsamic Chutney. It was a beautiful color with great texture. The balsamic was the perfect hint of vinegar and it had some nuts for a little crunch. After I was done I walked around to see what was out there. I asked where is the Pie Filling and Mustard. They wrote them down, so maybe they will be doing that next year.  There are a lot of bad canners out there and I hope they find All In A Jar Private School. Remember to keep jars in a cool dark place. Happy Canning.

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Bad Information On The Internet

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With the first day of summer in just a few day, I think of all the beautiful fruit that is coming in to season.There are so many recipes we can make with fruit, like jams, chutney, curd and one of my favorites, pie filling. With this in mind, I decided to look at what is on the internet for pie fillings. Wow, there are a lot of recipes, but most are not safe. Please be careful when looking for recipes. Please go to these websites: National Center For Home Food Preservation and Ball. The recipes you find on these website are tested and safe. Never use flour or cornstarch when canning. They will go bad in the jar in a few weeks. You need to use Regular Clear Jel; this is a modified cornstarch made for canning. You can also use it to make sauces, gravy and anything you want to thicken. You can order this at http://www.barryfarm.com. Remember to look for small berries, they contain less water and will have more flavor. Happy Canning.
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I’m Listening

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I love coming up with new recipes. I have a few students letting me know they want to learn how to make mustard. I have a few mustard recipes I make but, I wanted to come up with something I had never made. So yesterday I played in the kitchen and came up with two new mustard recipes. My husband is favoring one over the other. Not that he didn’t like both. He just loved the one. He said we need some bratwurst sausages. The one he loves is Wasabi Mustard. It has a little kick to it. The other is Apricot Nectarine Mustard. When I was making the Apricot Mustard I was thinking about roasted pork, sweet apple sausage and making it into a glaze for grilled meats and vegetables. I was thinking of the wasabi mustard on sausages and fried fish sandwiches. Let me know what you are interested in learning next. Think of something and be creative!
Check the class calendar; it goes to September 20th and I have a few mustard classes up and I will be adding the wasabi mustard in the fall. I need to find a spot to put the Apricot Nectarine Mustard before the apricot and nectarine go out of season. You can have a private class( a minimum of four students) to get the recipes you want, as long as the produce is in season.

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