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Posts tagged ‘Brookfield Show Cookery’

Fig and Ginger Jam

I bought some excellent figs at the Brookfield Markets from Sunrise Strawberries from Stanthorpe, who have beautiful figs and strawberries at their stall at the Market, which is held every fortnight at the Brookfield Show Ground. Tempted as I was just to eat them, I decided to make fig and ginger jam, which is superb with cheese, particularly blue cheese. I already have a fig jam recipe on this site, so I won’t repeat the method in detail, but here is the short version of how to make it, which is very easy.

Take a minimum of 500g figs, ripe but not overripe, and chop into quarters. You can go smaller if you wish. Place figs in a bowl and cover with an equal amount of sugar. Add approximately two tablespoons of prepared ginger pieces in syrup, finely chopped. This is a great product (from Buderim Ginger), which really adds to the flavour of the jam.
Leave 3-4 hours until the sugar “dissolves” and the figs disgorge some of their liquid. You shouldn’t be able to see the white sugar anymore. Place into a large pot to make the jam, and add juice of a lemon or lime. I used two limes as they are in season and limes are smaller than lemons. The acid in the citrus is important to get the jam to set. If your figs are a little overripe, I would add a little more lemon or lime juice. Don’t add any water to the mixture with this method.

Bring slowly to the boil, making sure that all of the sugar is properly dissolved before the mixture boils. Once it boils, the jam will jell quickly as there is very little liquid to evaporate, so watch it carefully that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. This isn’t a jam mixture to walk away from!
As soon as the mixture is at the setting point, take it off the heat and allow to settle in the pan for 5 or so minutes. Pour into prepared, heated jars, and seal immediately. I find if you have properly sterilised the jars, this jam keeps until the next Autumn when you are ready to do it again, but be sure to store it in the fridge once opened. Enjoy!


Lime Marmalade

Lime Marmalade is my favourite preserve to make and is always delicious with a beautiful tang and slight bitterness, which all of the best marmalades have. Limes are plentiful right now and at the peak of their season in mid Autumn. My lime tree was bursting with fruit, and the crop was the best I’ve seen. Lime marmalade is relatively uncomplicated to make with no seeds to deal with, and a good one to start with if you haven’t made marmalade before. All you need is limes, sugar and water. I started with around a dozen limes, but you can successfully make lime marmalade with half that, and this recipe is very flexible. If you are a beginner, it is best to start with smaller batches, rather than one large one.
Top and tail the limes, cut into half longways, and thinly slice. For Show work, you need to slice very finely. Put the lime slices in a large container, just cover with water and soak (covered) overnight or at least three to four hours.
Next, put the limes and soaking liquid in a large pan, bring to the boil and simmer (covered) for an hour. This is an important step to soften the peel, which will not soften any further once you add the sugar.
If you want to be sure of how much sugar to add, test for pectin (1 teaspoon mixture to three teaspoons methylated spirits), and tip the mixture onto a white saucer. If you have large clots, add the sugar cup for cup. If smaller (which is unlikely as limes are rich in pectin), you should add less sugar, closer to 3/4 cup sugar to each cup of mixture. In this case I added the same amount of sugar to the pan as the lime mixture. Note: you will be adding a lot of sugar, but this is important as it preserves the mixture, and fortunately you only eat a small amount of the marmalade at at time!
After adding sugar to the pan, add your candy thermometer (if you have one), and turn on the heat, ensuring that you allow the sugar to fully dissolve before it comes to the boil. At that point, boil the mixture rapidly until it comes to setting point, which is 104 degrees. The mixture at that point will come to a rolling boil, and will spit. You can also test for set using a small amount on a cold plate which will wrinkle, or use the spoon test, where the thickened mixture will “sheet” off the spoon. Watch the pan carefully at this point, as it will have a tendency to boil over. If this happens, when you are finished, add water to the spill and it is easy to clean up.
When the mixture reaches setting point, take it off the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes so that the peel will distribute evenly. Don’t leave it too long, or the marmalade will jell in the pan. After letting it sit, take your heated jug and sterilised and heated jars, and carefully pour the marmalade into each jar using oven mits and protection.
Fill each jar to the top and seal immediately with the lid. image
Finish filling all of the bottles and don’t move them until they are cold, so that the marmalade can properly set in the jar. I made around a dozen bottles from this batch. If properly prepared and sterilised jars are used the marmalade will keep for 6-12 months. Enjoy!

One more sleep until Cookery judging starts at the Brookfield Show!


Did you know?

We have 650 entries each year in the Cookery Section of Brookfield Show from over 200 exhibitors. Each year, almost half of the exhibitors are new to the Show.
It takes seven judges to taste, prod and admire each entry. Each and every entry is tasted except for the decorated cakes and the eggs.
25 volunteer stewards assist in the Cookery, each with specialised skills from database management, to logistics, to display and marketing. Our experienced stewards expertly swing into action each year to assist with the judging and run the Pavilion. As our volunteers retire or move away, we welcome new stewards each year to join our group.
Brookfield Show Cookery is one of the largest of the non-Royal agricultural shows in Queensland. We are also one of the longest running Cookery Sections, and can trace back our roots to the Brookfield Country Market over 100 years ago.
There have only ever been four Chief Stewards in the post-World War II history of the Cookery Section. The longest serving, Mrs Daphne Dowdle, served in the role for almost 40 years, and only retired in her 80’s. Daphne was much loved by generations of Cookery exhibitors, and only passed away at the age of 96 in October 2013, active to the end despite crippling polio as a child and its after effects. The Cookery Pavilion and Grand Champion prize are named for this inspirational community leader.
The Lyn Nayler Champion Preserves prize is named for Mrs Lyn Nayler who served alongside Daphne Dowdle as a steward for many years, and was a preserves specialist, winning the championship prize herself on many occasions. Lyn was a kind and generous friend to all, and her name and spirit lives on through the Champion Preserves prize. She was thrilled to be acknowledged in this way.
The Children’s Cookery section grows bigger each year, greatly assisted by the active involvement of the Kenmore State High School Home Economics teachers and over 70 keen students who enter each year to test their skills. The last two Children’s Cookery Chief Stewards grew up entering in the Children’s section, and were themselves Children’s Champions under the watchful eye of Daphne Dowdle.
Each year we get bigger and better as the Cookery Section slowly moves with the times, although never forgetting our roots in the Agricultural Show tradition.

Don’t forget to come and admire our beautiful exhibits this year, buy some fudge or other products, and pick up a raffle ticket to help us run the Pavilion.

See you at the Show!

Cookery Major Sponsor Queen Fine Foods

Brookfield Show Cookery is delighted to announce that Queen Fine Foods is again a major sponsor for the Cookery in 2015.  Our lucky special prize winners in the Cookery Pavilion will win a prize pack of beautiful and innovative baking products from Queen.  We will also have a display stand of the range of Queen products in the Pavilion, which will be raffled off during the Show.  Make sure that you come in and get a ticket!


Queen is a 100% Australian-owned family company, dating back to 1897. Known for an amazing selection of food colourings, vanilla and other traditional items, many of which are natural and organic, they now sell a wonderful range of icing and other decorative baking products.


Queen Fine Foods provide an ideal range of products for use in Show cooking, from flavourings to speciality cake decorating products. The wide range of products caters to both very experienced, and very new cooks, as well as fantastic decorating ideas for children who love to make their own designs on cupcakes or cakes.

The Queen website also is an excellent source of inspirational recipes:

A great Australian company providing a fantastic range of products. Please support our wonderful sponsors!

Brookfield Show 2014

The 2014 Brookfield Show is just around the corner, with entries for the Cookery closing this Sunday 11 May, and entries due at the Showground by Thursday 15 May 9.30 am at the latest.

We are expecting a large number of entries this year, after substantial early interest. Last year we had a record 650 entries, and this year could see even more!

Go to for more information, and for the link to enter the Cookery online.

Even if you can’t enter this year, please drop up and say hello at the Show, and of course we always welcome new volunteer Stewards to help out.

Don’t forget to check out the Show Cooking Tips on this blog (click on the heading to the right of the page), and there are also a lot of great recipes here for entering the Show.

Keep up to date with the latest information by subscribing to the blog, and the twitter feed, and keep checking back here for new posts closer to the Show.

See you at the Brookfield Show!

Vale Daphne Dowdle

Daphne 96th Birthday 2013

Daphne 96th Birthday 2013

It is with great sadness that we advise friends of the Brookfield Show Cookery Section that Daphne Dowdle passed away peacefully on 20 October 2013, after a brief illness, at the age of 96.

Daphne was the long serving Chief Steward of the Cookery Pavilion at the Brookfield Show, and served in that capacity for 40 years. Her last year was 1998, and after that she continued as a Steward until two years ago, when her advancing years made it difficult to participate. Even so, she listened keenly to tales of the Show, and wanted full details of what had happened, and who had asked after her. A natural leader, she capably ran a large Show section with everything written by hand, and kept careful records and formidable standards. Despite this, she had a heart of gold, and loved seeing a lot of entries, and every year in recent times her first question about the Show to me was “but were the shelves in the Pavilion filled with exhibits?”

She was very ably succeeded in the role by Yanina Hughes, who had also worked closely with Daphne in the last few years of her role as Chief Steward. Daphne loved working with her large group of faithful Stewards, including old friends and what she called the “young ones”, who have now taken over running the Cookery Section. Under Daphne’s watchful eye, we dared not change much, as we knew that Daphne would sniff it out, and when change did come it was gradual, but her firm standards have been maintained and always will be.

Daphne’s particular love was the children who entered year after year, and she was so thrilled when they grew up, and their own children entered. Not having children of her own, she worked tirelessly for the community, through the Show Society, the Brookfield CWA and the Kenmore Uniting Church, ensuring that it was a better place for every one else’s children, and has left an enduring legacy which will never be surpassed.

On a personal note, Daphne was a much loved friend to us all, and we will all miss her very much. Daphne taught me everything I know about Show cooking, and like countless others, I was blessed to have her in my life, and that of my family. At 96, she bridged with ease the post-war era of austerity through to the present time, and never tired of passing on her many years of accumulated wisdom to anyone who asked. We are much the poorer for her passing.

Vale Daphne.

Geraldine Mackenzie
Chief Steward

Fig Jam


Figs are still available in the shops in late Autumn, and they can make fantastic jam. I also like to make fig and ginger jam, as it is superb eaten with cheese, especially brie, camembert, and blue vein. Match made in heaven!

Figs are an unusual fruit, as they are inside out. They are one of the earliest fruits, and feature in the Bible and many early writings. I think they make an outstanding jam, but it isn’t exactly economical to make! It is also notoriously fickle, and has a nasty habit of burning on the bottom of the pan. Luckily burnt fig jam is another sub-genre, and pretty good too!




Trim the top off the figs and cut into quarters. Sprinkle with sugar, the same weight as the figs, and leave overnight, or at least 4-5 hours so that they disgorge all of their liquid.

Place in a pan with the strained juice of one or two lemons (depending on the weight of the figs – for a large batch use two lemons), and ensure that the sugar is fully dissolved before you bring the mixture to the boil.


Once the sugar is dissolved, boil rapidly until the jam reaches the set point (104 degrees C). Either use a sugar thermometer (highly recommended), use the “wrinkle test” (place a small teaspoon of jam on a plate, and draw your finger through – if the jam wrinkles and holds it shape, it is done); watch for it “sheeting” off the spoon; or look for changes to look and feel and smell, in particular the bubbles will get much bigger, the mixture will try to boil over, and it will send up a some spits.

Fig jam will jell quite quickly, particularly using this method, and needs to be carefully watched and frequently stirred. If it does stick to the bottom and burn, you can still save the mixture by not stirring in the burned bits from the bottom.


Once the jam has jelled, take it immediately off the heat, wait five minutes and bottle immediately into heated, sterilised jars (see Orange Marmalade recipe for how to do this). Lid immediately.

Hint – pans and jam making equipment are easy to clean when soaked in cold water – just rinse off, and no detergent or further washing required. Same with any spills on the stove, just soak in cold water and wipe straight off. As with all preserves, the hot mix is very dangerous and can cause very nasty burns. Never make jam with little children around, and always wear oven mits, and take care when handling the mixture.