Judges get to pick a perfect pickle as Midlands gets jamming

2012-08-08 00:00

IT’s official. If you want the best jam or pickles, then the Midlands is the place to find them.

Yesterday, the 31-year-old Midlands Forum held its first Royal Jamming Competition at Howick High School where members showcased the best homemade jams, pickles, marmalade, chutney and curd in town.

It took everyone by surprise that Queen Elizabeth was the distinguished guest. Okay, maybe not quite, but the queen’s look-alike, who goes by the name of Barbie Hamilton, brought a touch of dignity to the show.

The hall roared with excitement and stood as “Queen Elizabeth” gave her royal wave and greeted the attendees.

“At least this queen can speak,” another man quipped as the queen asked how he was doing.

Long tables were lined with preserves and pretty decorations, and the judges were hard put to decide which entries were the best.

The organiser was the general manager of the Oyster Box hotel at Umhlanga, Wayne Coetzer. He said: “At the hotel we serve homemade jam and we want to expand our knowledge.

“People have recipes that are passed on from three generations and we want to take them to use at the hotel.”

The top makers won prizes ranging from recipe books to a two-night stay at the Oyster Box.

The overall winner, Joan Dunbar (72), made “memsahib’s chutney” from an old cookery book a friend had given her for her 30th wedding anniversary.

“I still can’t believe I won. I’m still shocked. This is such a thrill.

“My mom was a home economics teacher and she’d let me experiment in the kitchen. That’s why I love cooking,” Dunbar said.

She received a trophy and two nights’ stay at the Oyster Box for four people.

Sheila Ashton (80) made plum jam from a tree in her garden that is over 100 years old.

“This last year the tree was covered in white blossoms and when fruit was formed the branches were weighed right down to the ground — enough plums for humans and birds.”

Mary Carlisle of the Midlands Forum, which has 450 members, said yesterday’s event was the biggest jam competition in the country.

There were 137 entries from the Midlands, and organisers are expecting more people in 2013.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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