Original Post Date: 8/20/2009
My wife, Columbus Foodie, will tell anyone willing to listen that for all my faults, I’m one HELL of a cannin’ fool. I’ve singlehandedly canned all manner of jams, preserves, and now jellies since we’ve gotten into the whole food preservation thing. Heck, right now I’ve got a tub of stinky little four-inch lovelies — pickling cukes — fermenting on the basement landing, where the temperature remains a comfortable 66 to 70 degrees (perfect to turn cucumbers into tasty tasty garlic dills).
Alas, that’s a story for another day.
Earlier this season, the mulberry tree in our backyard was literally bursting with dark little packages of berrylicious wonderfulness, and Dear Wifey made a point of gathering as many as she could as often as she could. Additionally, her mother’s boyfriend, whom I will refer to simply as “J”, gathered a boatload of mulberries from a tree near their property for my use.
This provided me with about a gallon to a gallon and a half of fully ripened, plump, juicy, yet seedy mulberries a week for nearly a month. What’s a man to do with such a bounty? TURN THEM INTO JELLY! Over the course of that early summer month, I mashed, boiled, strained, jellified and canned at least 20-25 eight ounce jars of glistening purple bliss and gave away a significant share of them to friends and family. Thus, it was a no brainer to submit (especially at Columbus Foodie’s insistence) my Mulberry Jelly to the mercy of the judges at the Columbus North Market’s 2009 Jelly and Jam Contest.
I arrived early, and submitted my entry to the first organizer to arrive. Thus, my mulberry jelly was the first product sampled by the judges. Whether this hurt my chances of placing high, I’ll never know (I did not win or place). By the time the judging was ready to begin, a total of fifteen entries had been received. Here are some of the competitors:
Here are the rest (forgive the overlap, it couldn’t be helped):
As you can see, my offering was merely one among many; there were quite a few interesting submissions. The winning Organic Concord Grape Jelly fully deserved its prize, as it was one of the best grape jellies I’ve ever tasted. Other notables included a sangria jelly, a lavender black&blue preserve, a hot pepper jelly, several cherry jams, and a blackberry jam which was quite good in my opinion.
All in all, it was an interesting and entertaining competition. Expect to see me there again next year.