I had to drive to Puyallup to get my ribbon. They call it “Jar Release.” There were limited days and hours available for you to pick up your winning jar and ribbon, otherwise they’d be donated to charity and I wasn’t about to let that happen. So, Â on one of those days after school, I made the long trek through traffic, along I-405, route 167 and I5 during rush hour to pick up my beloved prize. I was on the road for almost three hours. In my last-ditch effort to avoid such a trip, I called to see if my ribbon could be mailed, but apparently it couldn’t. The grommets in the ribbons bother the post office. I think it might be time for some new technology, USPS.
But I digress. What I really want to chat about is what I discovered when I picked up my jar. Before arriving, I had wondered, what’s the point? If the jar had been opened for a tasting and had been sitting that way in a case for three weeks, it wouldn’t be any good. But that wasn’t the case. To my surprise, my jar wasn’t open! Wait… no one tasted it? Didn’t I earn a blue ribbon because it’s a flavor bonanza of summer deliciousness?? Apparently not.
As I read the “report card” that was attached to my jar, I was filled with mixed emotions as I learned that the blue ribbon is not really for flavor at all, but for how well I can preserve. As that realization started to sink in, I couldn’t help but think of all the trials and tribulations of my canning journey, like when I stood over a steamy water bath canner to pull out bottomless (literally…jars broken from thermal shock) jars of blueberry butter years ago. Never did I imagine I’d sometime be receiving a ribbon for my canning skills with that very recipe.
I received the highest marks possible for having a perfect seal, the ideal head space and an all-around fabulous looking product. The only area in which I received a score of “fair” was for the criteria, “Doesn’t appear runny.” And really, I don’t even know what that means. When I tip my jar over, it’s solid gel – not runny at all. So, I’m not even sure how I could improve that. There was also a little note that said, “Nice for toast or ice cream.” But how does she know if she didn’t try it?
I guess that will have to remain a mystery for now. I’ll inquire next year when I enter another jar of jam because I wouldn’t mind having another ribbon to add to my collection.