Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Texas State Fair hopeful

Back in the 80s, I decided that my newly acquired canning skills were sufficient to enter the Texas State Fair. I entered--and won--with hot dill pickles (first place one year!) and took a variety of 3rds and honorable mentions for my picante. Eventually, life must have interfered/I couldn't find pickling cucumbers any more and I stopped canning pickles and picante. I did continue with jelly but none of them tripped my fancy enough to enter.

Until this year. I didn't get my State Fair Creative Arts book in time to make my pickling cucumbers fit in the correct size jars, nor my picante. I wasn't even going to make pickles until offered the overabundance of a friend's garden. FYI, the pickles are good. Crispy, but maybe not hot enough. I shall have to work on that.

Instead, I've been working on my plum and cherry jelly. As mentioned before, our little sour cherry tree gave and gave and gave this year to the tune of 2 gallons of itty-bitty cherries. They juiced down nicely and the house smelled like cherry pie for a day!

I wanted to make low-sugar jelly because I prefer a "spread" rather than a hard jelly. I wasn't about to experiment with my cherry juice, but I had lots of plum juice, so it became fodder my measurements. Plus, the Ball No-Sugar Needed Pectin had instructions for sugar-experimenters.

A few batches later, I found my perfect ratio: 4 cups of juice to 2 cups of sugar. Color is good, flavor is true and bright, pectin set pleasing. I mailed in my entry yesterday.

Stay tuned.

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