I smell of cherries

Between headaches and general staring off into space, I’ve been working on my State Fair entries. It’s been a lot of work and there’s nothing that says “SMART” like choosing to stand over a boiling pot of fruit, stirring frequently for 40 minutes or more on a day when it is 8 billion degrees out.
First up, I made a batch of cherry chutney. It’s pretty good, but I’m just not feeling it with the chutney, I don’t know. I don’t think I flavored it very well. Oh well. I’d say it goes well with pork, turkey or spicy food.
I made a batch of cherry jam that turned into cherry jello or something. That shit SOLIDIFIED! No worries, I’m calling it a cherry ‘pastry filling’ and giving it away. It tastes really good, it’s just too thick to be a jam. I drained too much juice off the cherries and so there ended up being too little fruit to pectin in the end. The gel ended up trapping millions of tiny bubbles in it. Definitely can’t enter that in the competition.
Today I made another batch of cherry jam and I think that turned out better. Definitely softer, more spreadable. I will have to manipulate the jars to help with fruit distribution (part of what yu get judged on is appearance).
Next up, Def Strawberry Jam for the “not otherwise specified” jam category and my salsa verde.
Wednesday I was on a mission for litmus paper. You see, if a recipe has a pH of 4.6 or lower, then it is acidic enough to kill any botulism bacteria that might be hiding in there. The boiling, heating and sealing will take care of the other bacteria, as well as any airborne yeasts or molds that might get in there. If the pH is higher than 4.6 then it must be pressure canned so that the temperature gets high enough to assure the death of the botulism.
If you are following a tried and true recipe, you need not worry about these things, they’ve been tested. But, if you are like me, you chafe under the constraints of order and instruction. My salsa verde recipe rocks ass but I am not sure it is acidic enough to be safe to waterbath process and I really don’t want to pressure can it because I don’t have the new gasket for my canner yet. So, I decided to get some litmus paper and find out.
Where does one buy litmus paper? Good question! I called pharmacies, I called industrial art supply warehouses, I called Target, I called a garden shop, I called a pool shop, I called a bead shop for fuck’s sake! Finally I found an elementary school supply store that was open! they had it (also, they had all of the other amazing things I wanted to buy).
The real sadness is the sheer number of people who were asked and did not know what litmus paper was for or what pH is. Dang.
Of course, I can’t really talk. I was filling 8 ounce jars with a 1 cup measuring cup and tried to pour in a heaping cupful. mmmm spillage.