Preparing Vegetables for Exhibition

Exhibiting vegetables at a fair can be a way
for you to show off your skills as a gardener, and it can actually be quite rewarding. Today
I want to take you through the steps of how to get ready for the fair and get your vegetables
ready to be exhibited. The first thing you need to do is make sure
that you get a fair book. And the fair book is always going to be the law of the land
and give you the rules on how you need to prep your vegetables and how many are required
to be shown for that exhibit. So you want to make sure you get those rules in hand and
read them. The first thing you’ll want to look for
when you’re choosing your produce is to make sure you have vegetables that are true
to variety. And what we mean is that if you’re exhibiting a red tomato, then you want to
make sure that you choose red tomatoes and not mix in pink ones, or mix in other varieties
with them. So they all need to be of the same variety. The next thing to look for would be maturity.
Now, some vegetables are shown either mature or immature – tomatoes for example can be
shown mature, when they’re read, or in some exhibits they’re allowed to be shown green.
But in all cases, they need to be shown either all green or all red. Peppers would be another
example. They are typically shown immature when they’re green, but some shows will
allow them to be shown mature when they are fully colored, which can be red, purple, yellow,
or various colors. But again, they all need to be the same color. Vegetables such as beans are typically shown
when they’re slightly immature. Before those pods have begun to fill-out with the beans
in the inside. So, generally they should be smaller in size rather than very large with
the pods very full to the inside. The next consideration when you’re selecting
the vegetables is to look for the condition of them. And by condition what we mean is
that they need to be free of any spots, diseases, blemishes, that could be insect, it could
be disease, it could be mechanical damage, or if they’re actually very old or too mature,
they’re going to begin to go downhill. The general rule of thumb is to think about
what you would be buying at the grocery store. What is the quality that you would be choosing
for cooking purposes? Also any vegetables that are going to be broken, or damaged, in
the case where the tips are missing from the carrot, or if there’s damage along the side,
these should be avoided at all cost. Again, what we’re looking for is the ideal,
prime vegetable that is at its peak quality. The next thing to look for when we’re going
to be exhibiting is the size of the vegetables. Ideally, they should all be uniform in size,
shape, color, and of course as I mentioned, the variety itself. So, when you’re selecting the produce, and
typically they’re shown in multiple numbers – threes, fives – again, the rulebook will
tell you how many you need to exhibit. But they all ideally need to be the same size,
or as near as possible. So those potatoes are obviously not close
enough in size. These eggplants on the other hand, are very uniform in size, they’re uniform
in shape, they’re uniform in color, and they’re all uniform at the same stage of maturity,
so they would be an ideal exhibit there. So, those are the main considerations when
you’re choosing your produce. Once you have selected it, some of them might need to be
cleaned, and in some cases that’s going to be nothing more than taking a soft cloth and
wiping the vegetable off, so that you remove any dirt or debris that is there. On the other hand, some vegetables such as
the beets or the carrots might need a little bit more work to get the dirt that is on them,
and so a soft brush would help in doing so. But you want to be careful, because if you
brush too hard, what you’re going to do is damage the skin and scruff it up, and that’s
going to be a fault for them. Things such as sponges or other utensils might
be helpful or useful when cleaning them up as well. So, once you’ve washed them and cleaned
them, the final step would be to transport them to the fair. And so simply taking something
like newspaper or tissue paper and then wrapping them very carefully is a way to get each of
those vegetables to the fair in a safe condition. Hopefully, these will give you some tips for
that blue ribbon at the fair.

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