Properly preserve foods for fair

RBC I It is time to start thinking about preserved foods exhibits for the Rio Blanco County Fair in July. There is nothing a fair judge enjoys more than awarding ribbons to exhibits, but nothing is more disappointing than being unable to do so because there is no way to determine the safety of the preserved foods.

To be considered for judging, all preserved food entries must be canned according to the most recent research based upon USDA (National Center for Home Food Preservation, nchfp.uga.edu/) or CSU Extension, (www.ext.colo state.edu/pubs/pubs) recommendations for a high altitude area to determine safe processing times.
There are only two accepted methods of processing preserved foods; Water bath canning and pressure canning.
Processes that are unacceptable and unsafe include: open kettle processing, inversion sealing, steam canning and paraffin sealed jellies/jams.
Soft spreads: i.e. jams, jellies, conserves, preserves, marmalades, butters, etc., pickles and salsas, juices and fruits are processed with water bath canning method. Low-acid foods such as vegetables, dried beans and meats must be processed with pressure canner method.
In order for the judge to determine safety of preserved food, they must know the following information, which should be included on the label of the jar. All canned products must be labeled properly. The label must include the following information: Name of product; Method of preparation (type of syrup, raw or hot pack); Method of processing (i.e. water bath or pressure canner—indicate weighted or dial gauge); Processing time, altitude and pounds of pressure (p.s.i.); and date of processing.
Headspace for each type of preserved foods are as follows: ¼” for all soft spreads; ½” for all fruit, tomatoes, and tomato juice; ¼” for grape and all other juices; ½” for pickles, relishes, and salsas; 1” for vegetables; and 1½” for meats.
Standards for Judging Canned Fruits, Vegetables, Juices and Meats: Pack (full, attractive, practical) ; Liquid (clear, properly filled); Color (natural, not faded or unnaturally bright); Quality (correct headspace, pieces distinct, uniform pieces, suitable, clean); and Container (clean, suitable, clear, neat label. Rings are required, but should be loosened. A ring that is hard to remove means the jar is not clean.)