HARTFORD, CT - An apple pie jam made by Chaplin Farms LLC of Chaplin took the highest award in the Connecticut Specialty Food Association’s eleventh Product Awards Competition, held Thursday, March 8, 2012, at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.
Of the 203 specialty food items from Connecticut based manufacturers entered in the event, 72, or 35 per-cent, were from Connecticut farms and farm wineries. Nearly half (49 percent) of those Connecticut farm products were awarded honors.
The Connecticut farm-made products were as diverse as the state’s agriculture itself. Among them were aged cheeses, pestos, pickles, jams, relishes, fruit mustards, syrups, pies, and wines.
“Value-added products such as these are an important component of a diversified farm business,” noted Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky. “We have seen an increase in on-farm commercial kitchens and bakeries over the last several years as consumer demand for locally grown products has continued to grow. It stands to reason that the freshest ingredients result in the best-tasting finished foods.”
Entries were evaluated by a panel of 21 judges, consisting of chefs from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to-Chef Program, food writers, wine specialists, and local media personalities. They scored products on overall taste/flavor, consistency/texture, appeal, and color. Each judge was assigned to a subset of the 36 different categories and was responsible for evaluating an average of 35 products.
Categories included breads, cheeses, confections and desserts, gluten-free foods, certified organic items, pasta sauces, salad dressings, savory condiments, snack foods, and many others. The competition also featured a special Connecticut Grown category as well as seven categories specifically for Connecticut wines made with 100 percent Connecticut Grown fruit.
Agriculture contributes $3.5 billion to Connecticut’s economy and accounts for about 20,000 jobs, ac-cording to a 2010 study by the University of Connecticut.
“Purchasing local farm products helps to keep that money circulating in our local communities and sup-ports those local jobs,” Commissioner Reviczky added. “Not to mention that it provides consumers with some of the best-tasting foods available.”
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture maintains listings for producers of a variety of different types of farm products and specialty foods on its website at www.CTGrown.gov/Publications.
The Connecticut Specialty Food Association is a subdivision of the Connecticut Food Association and is a non-profit organization that represents small food businesses based in the state. To learn more, visit www.ctfoodassociation.org.