Pickle power goes on show
If it can be pickled, preserved, or made into sauce, jelly or jam, you will most likely find it in Milawa woman Ruth Shalders’ kitchen.
A regular entrant in the Wangaratta Show, Ruth has faithfully tended her home garden since moving to Milawa about 18 years ago, and started teaching herself the various ways of bottling and preserving food soon after in an effort to make use of the large amount of food produced in her garden.
“I use everything out of the garden,” she said, adding that while the recipes and techniques presented a steep learning curve at the beginning, she now loves to experiment with flavours and combinations on a regular basis.
“I like growing something new and finding out what to do with it.”
She said friends know to pass on their empty jars to her, and she often passes on her culinary creations to them as gifts.
Her creations – especially her favourite, marmalade – also often make an appearance at the popular monthly fundraising stall operated by Friends of the Hospital.
Ruth said the popularity of pavilions at local shows, and the demand for homemade food items, shows that people still want to learn traditional skills as well as know exactly what goes into their food.
“You’re in control of what goes into the jar, you develop the flavours to suit,” Ruth said.
She encouraged people who love food to “have a go” and enter their items in the Wangaratta Show.
Ruth creates her preserves, pickled items, jams, jellies and sauces at the times throughout the year when the fruits and vegetables she uses are in season, with marmalade and other citrus based items being the priority at this time of year.
She said when preserving – especially when creating entries for competition – cleanliness was a top priority, as is the presentation of your work.
Using fresh, seasonal ingredients is also important for the best flavour, and Ruth said that creating entries far ahead of time gives the flavour in her creations time to develop and mature.
She has been a regular prize winner at the Wangaratta Show for her work, and has also placed well at district shows.
She names having some of her preserves on display at the Melbourne Museum as part of a representation of North East Victoria as one of her proudest moments.
Ruth urged people not to hesitate to enter items in the Wangaratta Show, saying that the more popular pavilion exhibits are, the more vibrant and connected to the community a show is.
“The show is about people, and about entries,” she said. “Have a go and enter the show.” The Wangaratta Show will take place on October 12-13 at Wangaratta Showgrounds.
To learn more about entry categories in the pavilion and livestock exhibits, see the event website at wangarattashow.org.au.
FOND OF PRESERVING: Ruth Shalders regularly enters her jams, jellies, preserves and more in the Wangaratta Show.