For over 20 years, sisters Susan Calleri and Janice Alosi have been involved in some capacity with the San Benito County Fair and its preserves category. While Alosi started out competing by entering her preserves in the 1990s, Calleri got involved when she became a clerk for the Preserve Foods Department in 1995.
Today, the sisters have teamed up for the last 12 years as department co-chairs of the Adult and Junior Preserves, Homemade Beer and Wine and Adults Crafts categories at the fair.
Both women sat down with BenitoLink and explained what makes canning so appealing to people in the community, and shared popular and unique entries.
According to both sisters, local agriculture has an impact on the most popular preserves entered at the fair. Apricot is the most popular, followed by strawberry.
“It is so much more economical to can your own product,” Alosi said. “Another [reason for canning] is the organic side to it. People like to know what’s in their preserves.”
Picking what fruit to use is not the only decision to be made when it comes to canning.
“Our low sugar category has grown and is growing,” Calleri noted.
Though entries may change over the years, the sisters look forward to meeting new people each year, seeing the creativity of finished products and keeping the art of canning alive.
Among the creativity entries at this year’s fair is a batch of lemon jelly, which both sisters agree is the most unique item they have seen in a while.
Though the sisters do not judge the categories in their department, they are both certified to judge at California State Fairs through their UC-Davis certifications.
Asked if they had any parting words, Calleri said, “Support your local county fair by attending and participating.”