Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
By Janie Southard
You name it, they can it for the Auglaize County Fair
  WAPAKONETA - Lack of rain put a damper on vegetable and fruit entries at the 2007 Auglaize County Fair but, as usual, canned goods were plentiful at Monday morning's judging.
"The drought brought our vegetables way down, but cakes, pies and baked goods are way up. And, of course, canned goods are always steady," said Larry Kill, chair of the horticulture committee and fair board member for 17 years. "Plus, we have a lot of new people entering this year."
Some of those new folk joined the tried-and-true entrants in the canned goods area bringing in baskets of jarred jewel-colored peaches, cherries, raspberries, green beans, corn relish - well, the list goes on and on.
"I believe any fruit, vegetable or meat can be canned. We've also had jars of pickled everything you can think of," he said holding up a couple jars of confetti-colored bits and pieces of various vegetables and pickles.
Kill explained that once you have the main ingredient in relishes, for instance corn or pickles, you can then add anything imaginable. So these jars more often than not have a kaleidoscope quality.
"People don't can as much as they used to because it's a lot more work than freezing ... But canned goods last a lot longer as long as the seal is good and you store in a cool, dark area," he said.
The most popular fruit to can is peaches and for veggies, it's green beans.
Kill held up a jar of green beans and explained some of the qualities on which canned goods are judged. The beans were all cut in equal lengths. The jar was packed well - not too loose or too tight. And the liquid came perfectly to the top of the vegetables.
"That's a lot of what we're looking for. Plus there should no sediment and the thickness of the liquid should be the proper consistency for things like molasses, maple syrup and sorghum," he said.
Canned good Judge Michelle Clune of New Bremen, a family consumer science teacher at St. Marys high school, said taste does not matter in the judging. "We don't taste because of the possibility of botulism. If the seal is not good there is a good chance the food is poisoned," she said with golden, glistening peach preserves behind her in the window.
Just what is the difference among jams, jellies, preserves, etc.
According to several folks standing around the judging area, the answer is: Preserves contain actual fruit. Jams and butters are made from fruit juice, but are not as clear as jellies, which are transparent .
About 70 first-place and best-of-shows in baked goods were auctioned off Monday night.
"It went real well," Kill said, adding cakes made by Wapakoneta residents Cyndi Zweibel and Jill Keith brought in more than $100 each.
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