Thanks to everyone who came out to support the Master Food Preservers at the Tasting Buffet last night, and thanks, too, to Bel Ami and Midtown Bistro, which served as a perfect venue for our demonstrations and tasting tables. I was overwhelmed by the packed house and support we received from Eugene. I hope you won a door prize or silent auction item, and even if you didn’t, I’m sure you were able to eat your fill of any number of delicacies. I thought I’d be working the jam sales table, but was stationed as a soup lady, slingin’ cups of a beautiful, jewel-toned dehydrated vegetable soup and an unusual acorn squash soup flavored with cider, fennel and cayenne.
After the crowd had dissipated, I and the other volunteers made our way around to the various tables, sampling the leftovers. I managed to snag a tasting cup of the apple cider before they broke down the apple press, and boy, am I glad I did. It was really nice of Lochmead Dairy to provide free eggnog, so I had a cup of that, too, just for the gratitude. I also couldn’t resist tasting the fabulous sauerkraut pork goulash and sauerkraut salad at the pickle table, and noshed on dehydrated pea pods, black cherry juice “fruit drops,” and gooseberry pie filling on miniature crackers made from pie dough.
After picking up some tips on improving my homemade tamales (which I make each year in January) and admiring vegetable dyes for homemade pasta, I made myself a corned beef sandwich in a cup (using samples of home-corned beef, bordeaux mustard, and artisan bread cubes) and, pecking away, talked to the ladies at the pickle, meat, and jam tables about which of their items had the biggest draws.
And here’s what I found out. Most popular fruit spreads? Apricot-pepper, elderberry, black currant, and tomato-wine jelly. Plain dill pickles did well, as did dilly beans and an unusual fennel-onion pickle. The raspberry vinegar was thought divine, and people loved the queso fresco tart with pesto and sundried tomato spread. The pickled salmon and tuna had their fans, but the winners on the mountain of protein were beef jerky (no surprise there), a smoked and saucy pulled pork concoction, and smoked salmon.
This important research will be number-crunched and presented to my fellow teachers, and I hope to share some of the recipes and methods at my upcoming December 13 Gifts from the Kitchen class. We had quite a few sign-ups at the Tasting Buffet, so I’m really excited that planning is going ahead, and we will discuss some of the most popular treats. I’ve put in a request to have some of the jams/jellies that didn’t sell on hand at the class for sale, so participants will be able to supplement their gift baskets with some unusual samples of the best of local preservation.
If you’re interested in the class, please call the MFP office or let me know, and we can get you signed up!