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Jam Contest:Bacon, Molson Beer, and Spicy Pepper Jam

Ann Arbor FoodToday was the big Jam contest at Downtown home and garden. 59 Jelly’s, jams, butters, and ones that defy category were present for tasting and judging. There was a long table set up with numbered jars. Small crust of bread and crackers were set out. Twenty-five people crowded around the table with more coming and going. Most did not try them all. Only one hardcore taster managed to get through and weigh in a vote for each one. Most jams gave away the type of jam in the name like my balsamic sweet onion jam, while there were a few like R&B that we were not sure what it was.

There were only a handful of savory jams like ones made with spicy peppers, and a favorite of mine made with sun dried tomatoes. My onion jam tasted great, yet I had my doubts that I would win any prizes because there was a bunch of kids there who voted and the savory jams did not get as many tastings or votes. (update:I did not win a prize)

The stand outs for me was the vanilla pear jam, spicy pepper jam, an organicAnn Arbor Food concord grape for the familiarity, a honey and lemon balm (update: It won second place), and the sun dried tomato. The bacon jam was more of a spread of bacon bits than a jam in my opinion, but tasty. I tried about half of them. Some were too runny, others had a strong alcohol taste, and one had way too much lavender which made it taste like perfume.

Looking at all of these jams made me think about the future of local food. Most were made from seasonal, local fruits, berries, and vegetables. They have a long shelf life, which allows for a huge variety of local food year round, and the jars can be reused for years. I am very new with canning and I was amazed at all of the recipes in the Ball Bluebook.

Eating locally in the winter brings up imagines of eating an all potato diet for months. Looking at 59 varieties of jam I see that is far from the case. I see a winter of tasty jellies and fillings from desserts and pastry, flavorful condiments for savory meat dishes,  and cheese pairing, and to tasty spread on homemade bread.