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Hints & Tips - Cookery


Hints and tips for Showing Cookery and Preserves


  • Use plain jars and new lids with no commercial markings.
  • If using a screw-on lid, no wax disc is necessary.
  • If using a waxed disc, keep flat and cover surface of filling.  Cellophane cover must be tight, dampen the underside to achieve this.
  • Lids should always be put on preserves immediately jar is filled.
  • Jars should be filled within 3mm of the top.  Fill to the top to allow for shrinkage.
  • Fruit curd, (which is not a true preserve), should be covered with a ‘breathing’ top, (i.e. waxed disc and cellophane cover).  Curd does not reach a high enough temperature for a wax to seal but the disc forms a double dust cover.
  • Ensure an even distribution of fruit is in the jar by waiting 5 minutes after cooking before adding to the jar.
  • Labels should be plain, of a suitable size for the container and show the day, month and year of making. Ensure the labels are straight and the contents are indicated.  Ensure you write the variety of the preserve on the label.
  • Preserves should have a good set and flavour.
  • Chutneys and Pickles should be at least 2 months old to allow flavours to develop.
  • Before showing, check that acids have not eaten into the underside of lids.  Check also for mould and/or scum.


  • Scones – Fruit should be cut with a fluted cutter and cheese with a plain cutter.
  • Savoury pies can be decorated with pastry leaves etc and glazed.  Sweet pies and tarts should not be decorated or glazed, just the top lightly sprinkled with castor sugar after baking.
  • To avoid getting a ‘soggy bottom’ when baking pies and tarts, place container on a pre-heated baking tray.
  • A Victoria sandwich should be filled with jam only, usually raspberry and, the top sprinkled lightly with castor sugar.
  • To avoid the cooling rack marks on the top of the Victoria sandwich, turn out onto a folded tea cloth.
  • Biscuits should be rolled out and cut with a cutter.
  • Cookies are made from a softer mix than a biscuit and shaped in the hands or sliced from a roll.
  • For large cakes, line tins with greaseproof or baking parchment rather than bought cake liners.


  • Remember to read the entry detail for e.g.  x6 jam tarts.  Place only x6 on the plate.  You could be marked down if you do not present item as requested.

  • Although items need to look good, the majority of marks are given for flavour. 
  • Ensure plate (crock or paper) is a suitable size.  If using paper plates, ensure they are wax coated as moisture from the food may be absorbed into them.  As paper plates tend to be flimsy, transport your items on a solid plate or in a firm plastic box to avoid damage.
  • Cover items with cling film or insert in a clear polythene bag.
  • Remember to enjoy yourselves.