Last summer when I thought of entering the Royal Winter Fair Jams, Jellies and Pickling Competition, I have to admit I was intimidated. This was a showcase of the best of the best, and I just didn’t think I was ready to compete at this level. So I didn’t enter, but I couldn’t help but think I’d missed a chance. Then when I went to the Fair I walked around the winning entries and I was so inspired by the people who had entered and wondered how I would have stacked up against them. I also thought about how amazing it would feel to be reviewed and possibly recognized by such a venerable institution as well as the high caliber judges.
So in early February of this year, when I saw a tweet mentioning an event at Fort York called Mad For Marmalade, I decided to check it out. I was excited to see on offer a talk by Sarah B Hood, (author of the cookbook We Sure Can) on How to Make Prize Winning Marmalade and immediately bought myself a ticket. I had decided this would be where I build up my courage for the Royal Winter Fair.
I made a traditional Seville Orange Marmalade and then got creative in the mixed category and made Lime Cilantro Marmalade. I tweeted a photo of the Seville Orange Marmalade and got a great reply from Sarah which gave me confidence.
The event was wonderful and I learned a lot. I feverishly took notes through Sarah’s session and asked what I am sure was an overwhelming amount of questions. Met some wonderful people and my marmalades both placed in their categories. Now, I felt like mentally I was ready to take the plunge at The Royal.
I knew the competition booklets came out sometime around mid August, so I stalked the web site waiting for the information I wanted and at the same time, I continued to hone my skills and thought about what I would enter.
I have what I consider to be a bit of an advantage as I have a stall at 3 different Farmer’s Markets in the city so I get to keep a pretty close eye on Ontario produce. I firmly believe that the quality of what you put in the jar is what you will get out of the jar, so I never settle for bruised or past their prime produce. When the raspberries were so juicy they practically melted in your mouth, I went into the kitchen to make Raspberry Jam. When Wild Ontario Blueberries started to make weekly appearances, I planned my Blueberry Jam entry.
Now that I have made the decision to throw my hat in the ring, I am excited to plan out my remaining entries and even more excited to get in the kitchen and get my preserve on!
No matter where my preserves place, I am so excited to be on the Road to the Royal.