Jamming at the Show

April 2010

In 2008 I wrote a story about the Perishable Foods Competition at the Royal Easter Show, a competition that began in 1888 and is still going strong today. You know the one, in the Arts & Crafts Pavilion — the cakes, jams, jellies, pickles and preserves. My interest in this was sparked by being asked to judge the jams a few years ago, an invitation that was repeated this year. Why would I spend half a day tasting scores of blackberry jams, quince jellies, fig conserves ...? Because every jar represents somebody’s love of produce and tradition. The stern ladies
I judge with are quick to spot a burnt bottom in a marmalade, a wrong ingredient or a jar that doesn’t stick to the schedule — for instance, ingredients have to be listed and the jar must be the right size. But, above all, the stuff inside has to be sensational. I gave only one gold medal this year: to a quince jelly so perfect in colour, flavour and perfume it made me want to guzzle the contents. If the person who made it is reading this and has any more, please contact me.

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