Pickled entries a tough decision for Weld County Fair open division judge
About midway through judging food preservation, Carl Armon tasted two of the pickled entries.
“Oh, this is going to be tough,” he said to no one in particular. One was a Vietnam noodle, the other was pickled zucchini. After some consideration, he chose the zucchini for the blue ribbon and the Vietnam noodle, made with daikon, as the red ribbon winner, with the decision coming down to texture.
Armon, a Boulder resident, is sort of a rare breed – a man involved in food preservation and judging. He was among the judges Tuesday at the 2009 Weld County Fair in the open division at the Event Center in Island Grove Regional Park.
“It is unusual to have a man to do any kind of canning, let alone be a judge,” said Peggy Armstrong of Eaton. Armstrong has been the superintendent of food preservation at the fair for the past 25 years, and in those years, having a man judge and having an entry with daikon, an Asian vegetable, were both firsts.
Armon, who is a researcher at Children’s Hospital in Denver involved in public health, said he started entering food preservation items in the Boulder County Fair, then became a superintendent at that fair and ended up taking food preservation judging classes.
“I can something every year. When I was a student, I started giving it as gifts, and people loved it,” Armon said. “It’s all about food safety, food safety, food safety, then whether or not it’s delicious.”
Armstrong said the entry using daikon was certainly different. Normally, she said, daikon is canned with carrots, and is common in some Asian restaurants. But the woman’s family didn’t like carrots, so she improvised with the recipe.
“You can’t just go to the market and buy that (daikon). The woman said she went to an Asian market in Denver to get it. That’s a real dedicated canner,” she said.
At the other end of the Event Center, Lulu Marie Hathaway of Brighton was judging baked goods. She said she’s judged home economics for 30 years and judges an average of 10 fairs each year. It comes down, she said, to experience.
“Over the years, you build up a routine and experience works for you,” she said.
Hathaway said she continues to enjoy judging not only open division, but 4-H food projects as well, which she did Tuesday afternoon.
“I take small bites. If something is real spicy, I’ll drink water to clean my mouth, and sometimes, I’ll eat some crackers. But I’ve found that experience works for you,” she said.
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