Judging Preserves At The Alameda County Fair


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

Private Class: Citrus Curd


I like to think of curd as if it were pudding in a jar.Since Citrus season is here, it’s  time to make curd. Fruit curd makes a delicious dessert spread.

The basic ingredients are eggs, sugar, butter, fruit juice and zest – which are gently cooked together until thick. The toughest part is trying not to make scramble eggs as you temper the ingredients. If done right, you will have a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread. Some recipes use only the yolk and others use the whole egg. In the 19th and early 20th century, in England, homemade lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts. Homemade lemon curd was usually made in small amounts as it did not keep as well as jam. In more modern times larger quantities are feasible because of modern canning methods and the use of refrigeration. Commercially manufactured curds often contain additional preservatives and thickening agents. Curds are different from pie filling or custards in that they contain a higher proportion of juice and zest, which gives them a brighter, more intense flavor. Also, curds containing  butter have a smoother and creamier texture than both pie fillings and custards which contain little or no butter and use cornstarch or flour for thickening. Additionally, unlike custards, curds are not usually eaten on their own. All In A Jar uses only the freshest ingredients, no preservatives, no cornstarch or flour.  If you or someone you know has a lemon, lime or orange tree with a lot of juicy fruit waiting to be picked then book a private canning class and go home with all the jars you make.

My favorite way to eat curd is spread on a tart with some fresh fruit placed around the out side.

See you in class