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Kaylene Slack, left, and Joee Baldwin watch as Union County Fair Canning, Preserving and Home Crafts Chair Juanita Weissenfluh fills out an entry form for the open class canning contest Tuesday at the Union County Fair. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Young 4-H students enter Union County Fair’s canning contest
It’s easy to pick up a jar of jelly off a shelf at the grocery store. Some local 4-H students are tasting the benefit of do-it-yourself jelly and jams, though.
Kati Baldwin doesn’t can, but her daughter, Joee, could be considered a canner now. Joee Baldwin, 11, entered her strawberry jam into the Union County Fair’s canning division Tuesday morning with hopes of getting a blue ribbon.
“I just thought it’d be nice to try because it seemed interesting,” Joee Baldwin said. She and family friend Kaylene Slack made jam as part of 4-H’s Happy Homemaker Club. Slack entered her blackberry jam into the fair’s contest.
“It’s fun to do in a group so you have people to help you,” Joee said.
Baldwin and Slack, 10, said canning takes a lot of ingredients — mostly sugar — but not too much time, only 30 or 40 minutes for a batch.
“I think it worked pretty good — better than the first time,” Joee said before they opened up a can to taste.
“Actually, it’s really good,” Kati Baldwin said.
“It tastes like store-bought jam but better,” Joee added.
Union County Fair Canning, Preserving and Home Crafts Chair Juanita Weissenfluh said she’s excited to see young adults get involved with canning because it’s an art in decline.
“I would love to have more entries,” she said. “We have wonderful exhibitors in our county.”
An avid canner herself, Weissenfluh said canning is a craft for all ages and isn’t limited to women or girls.
“One year we had a young man who was a phenomenal canner,” she said. “I encourage people to bring their products. Even if you think they’re not worthy, they are.”
Weissenfluh spent about 12 hours at the fairgrounds collecting entries Tuesday for judging on Wednesday. She was delighted to see some more creative entries like meat rubs, chocolate strawberry jam and carrot cake jam. She was also pleased that there seemed to be more junior entries than there have been the past few years.
The junior champion will receive a $25 cash prize as well as the traditional ribbon. Judging is based on appeal, texture and quality, proportion, color and cleanliness of the jar.
“It isn’t always cost effective,” Weissenfluh said of canning. “However, the quality is always worth it.”