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I'm starting to think about my entries for this year's Royal Melbourne Show which runs from 22 September to 2 October. I seem to recall entering some baking in a small local show back home in New Zealand many years ago, but it was so long ago I can't remember much about it so this may as well be my first time entering anything in a show!
My inspiration has come from watching a series called 'Kirstie's handmade Britain' when I was living in London last year. Basically it was about the adventures of a British TV presenter called Kirstie Allsop as she travelled the UK learning new crafts & entering her work in county fairs. Kirstie has featured in a few different crafty/handmade/do-it-yourself programmes & I also enjoyed 'Kirstie's homemade Christmas' as well. Here is a link to her website where you can check out these programmes & learn more about Kirstie's projects http://kirstieallsopp.co.uk
Anyway, after watching 'Kirstie's handmade Britain' I set myself a goal of entering some baking in the Royal Melbourne Show this year. I thought I would blog about my experience & hopefully inspire some of you to try your hand at entering a local show or perhaps to just try & bake (or make!) that 'thing' that you've always wanted to have a go at.
So my entries..well the baking side of it doesn't worry me too much although I do hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew (literally, haha!). I am entering cupcakes in two different classes, brownies, fancy/sweet biscuits, yo-yos & then of course there's the jam. I say it like that because I have never made jam before in my life! So let's be honest, it could go either way...
A few weeks ago I had a look online for some ideas for jams other than your usual strawberry, raspberry etc. I found a recipe for white peach & raspberry that I thought looked quite nice. I was all set to go with that until I realised that neither of those fruits would be in season! So it was back to the drawing board. I stumbled across the Victorian Farmers' Markets Association's website which lists the seasons of fruit & veg in Victoria. For those of you in Victoria - here it is if you're interested www.vicfarmersmarkets.org.au/content/whats-season
Once I knew what fruits would be in season for when it came time to make my jam, my next step was to try & glean some information on the actual art of jam making. I stumbled upon a really good article online which happens to include some useful pointers from a previous Royal Melbourne Show title holder for best berry jam - bingo! www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/food-and-drink
The main points I took from that article was to use your imagination when thinking of what type of jam to make; use fruits that are in season to achieve the best flavour; avoid using a jam setting sugar with pectin & opt for natural ingredients such as lemon juice & green apple instead; & don't over-boil the jam.
So with these tips in mind & now knowing what fruits would be in season, I began my search again for a jam recipe that was 'outside the square'. So I've come up with two options; rhubarb jam or nashi pear (asian pear) jam, neither of which I've ever heard of or tried before! So I'm hoping that the judges will be impressed with my vision of using in-season fruit & opting for something a little different from the norm.
Next challenge: making the jam! I'm going to get cracking on the jam in the next couple of weeks so I have it made in plenty of time before the date I have to deliver my show entries by. So watch this space as I report back to you on how my jam making adventure goes & I'll also be blogging about how I go with my baking entries.
Finally, why not end on a random quote about jam. "It is as healthy to enjoy sentiment as to enjoy jam" - Gilbert K. Chesterton.