This weekend I'm doing a two day fall festival with Keychains for a Cause. Yesterday we did fairly well. Not as well as I would have liked, but our assigned booth space is rather facing the wrong way and at the end of the stretch. Most visitors won't venture that far down. Even so, we sold 21 keychains and still have today to go back. Most of the regulars say that Sunday is much, much slower, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.
You know, however, that you're at a fall festival in a Georgia town when the kids are walking around with balloons tied to pork rind bags instead of cotton candy.
It's of the woman in the booth next to me that I mean to post about today. She sells jams, jellies, salsas and chow-chows that she makes herself. I tried. I tried really hard. REALLY hard to keep my mouth shut. She maintained all day she had her certification from UGA - which I now highly doubt. First, she doesn't use two piece jar tops - she just reuses baby jars, pasta sauce jars etc. I tried to maintain my equanimity, but then I saw she had pumpkin butter. I love pumpkin butter. My mouth was screaming to buy a jar, but my head said ask more questions and when I noticed the two inch gap of air in the bottom and middle of half of the jelly jars I stepped up my questioning on processing and head space. In regard to the headspace, she said it was there - just at the top of the jar because when she inverted it to seal the jars it's all up at the top. Sorry - it's still two inches and not a quarter inch as required for jams and jellies. That, and she doesn't process at all. None of it. All she does is invert the jars for she feels she gets it 'hot enough' when she cooks it.
I tried to keep my mouth shut, I really did, but I told her I was surprised she said UGA would approve of her methods and talked about bacteria etc. She started back peddling pretty quickly and said she understood my concerns and had a few batches spoil on her before 'for no reason.' Yup. That was all it took. No pumpkin butter for me.
I didn't do or say much more, but I did manage to steer my mom and neighbor away from her booth. I'd always heard you shouldn't purchase home canned goods from a local fair as you don't know how they'll be processed and boy, is that right.
I'm likely going to print some stuff out from the UGA page and bring it with me today. I won't change how she processes things, but at least I can make sure she understands the risks she's taking.