My personal journey on the Road to the Royal took just over 6 weeks. It included a lot of well timed conversations with farmers to ensure I received the fruit I wanted at the peak of freshness. It involved a lot of patience, straining, skimming, measuring, stirring, boiling, testing and hoping.
It also included a little trial and error because I wanted to ensure that each jar I submitted was 'Royal worthy'. In the 6 weeks, I turned down fruit that were over ripe even though I could have paid less for the produce. I carefully measured head space and patiently waited for the rolling boil I knew I needed to ensure set.
I made decisions on which recipes I would use and which preserves I would enter. I ended up entering 7 categories, which sounds like a lot but is really only a small fragment of the categories that I could have entered. I didn't even consider the pickle category, not because I don't make a fine pickle but because I wanted to focus my efforts on jams, jellies and marmalades.
On Friday, I finally delivered my preserves to the Royal Agricultural Show Office, which was a hive of activity. I knew it would be with the show just 2 weeks away. I was taken into the back room, where we unpacked my boxes and checked each entry off the list. The table tops were covered with jar after jar of maple syrup and lots and lots of jam.
As I walked out of the office, feeling lighter than when I went in I tried to imagine what Judging day looked like. I would love to one day be on the other side of the fence. Getting to taste all of those magnificent entries.
Yesterday the judges spoke. All decisions are final. No matter where I place, I am happy to have travelled this road. Now there is nothing left to do but wait.