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.

See you in class

” Use Your Own fruit ” and How To Open A jar

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The other day I had two students ( husband and wife ) here for a private class ” Use your own fruit”. They had a lot of Meyer lemons and needed help preserving them. This class is for people that have an abundance of produce and need help preserving it. I suggest many recipes for the family to select from then I give you a list of what to bring besides the produce. We make two recipes and you go home with all the jars. The other day we came up with Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Sparkling Wine Meyer Lemon Jelly. During the class the husband asked an important question; how do you open the jars. Wow, I have been teaching for over two years and I have not shared how to open a  jar. He has been using a small screwdriver. As he was telling me this all I could imagine is him hurting himself with the screwdriver. Please do not use a screwdriver, use a bottle opener and have some rings in the drawer where you keep the opener, so you can put the rings on after opening and place the jar in the refrigerator. If you or someone you know is growing food, this might be the class for you. The cost is the same as my canning classes, but you go home with all the jars. Private class are offered Sunday at 11:00am or Thursday 6:00pm.

 

See you in class

 

Where To get Supplies

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Students ask me all the time where to get supplies.
Many student have shared with me where they get supplies.
This blog is a long time coming. So here goes.
Bed Bath & Beyond has  jars. I would have never thought of this store for canning supplies. The prices on jars aren’t bad and then you add a coupon, good savings.They have wonderful tools for canning. Like cherry pitter, knifes, pots and hand blenders are some of them. They are at 15 Crescent Dr. Pleasant Hill.

Win Co Food at 2400 N. Park Blvd.in Pittsburg. They have a lot of canning supplies. I found a new jar size here.It is bigger than a pint but, smaller than a quart. It is wonderful for canning pickled carrots and pickled asparagus because of the shape of the jar is tall and thin.They have big bottles of Real Lemon Juice. They have things in bulk like sugar, chili peppers, and spices.

Smart and Final at 2100 Contra Costa Blvd. in Pleasant Hill, has canning supplies too. You can get jars and lids at a good price. They have big bottles of vinegar, great for pickling and making mustard. They have the dry mustard powder, pickling salt and spices.They have a lot of tools here, like cutting boards, big bowls, measure spoons, measure cups and aprons. This is a good place to pick up cleaning supplies as well.

Home Depot on-line or Amazon is a good place to get a pressure canner. I have a Presto with a dial gauge. You can order a Water Bath Kit with all the tools you will need too.

Some Ace Hardware are a good place to pick up jars. If you buy ten case at a time ask for 10% off. This is a good place to pick up a water bath canner and they have pickling salt too. Go to the Ace Hardware in Alamo on 3211 Danville Blvd. This hardware store has the most canning supplies I have ever seen in one place. Bring All In A Jar’s business card and get a discount on any kitchen supple.

When I’m shopping at the grocery store I always check the canning supplies. Some times they have Sure-Jel pectin and lids on sale.

Lets talk about produce.

I love Walnut Creek Produce at 2257 Olympic Blvd in Walnut Creek.
Close to my home, great produce and great prices. When I need a lot of one thing I ask for a box and save more money. They have an other place called Concord Produce at 2511 Monument Blvd in Concord. This place has lower prices than Walnut Creek. So if I’m out that why I shop there. When I need some ethnic produce I shop in Concord. They have a Moraga Produce (as well.) The prices are the highest here.

When I have time I go to Berkeley Bowl at 920 Heinz Ave. in Berkeley. It is a wonderful place. I tell people go on a field trip to Berkeley Bowl, plan on being there for two hours and seeing things that you have never seen before. Produce and spices from around the world. They have a great bulk area. I get raw sugar, mustard seeds, spices, flour and tea.
When I don’t have time to drive to Berkeley I go to Sprout Farmers Market at 1530 Geary Road in Walnut Creek. They have bulk here too. I get raw sugar. They have some nice produce. I have found vanilla bean here at a good price and some white wine vinegar too.

Happy Shopping & Happy Canning.

See you in class