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Popular American Tradition at the Maryland State Fair: The Art of Canning

Updated: Friday, August 23 2013, 02:33 PM EDT

Other than the rides and the concerts at this year's Maryland State Fair, the annual event is also a time to step back and revisit the traditions of the past. One tradition in particular is making a comeback.

FOX45's Melinda Roeder checked out the fun, healthy and fiercely competitive world of canning. She spoke with James Thomas and his two siblings who, collectively, have won more than 50 ribbons from various 4H and county competitions. They typically "clean up" at the State Fair, winning many awards.

The Thomas family knows all about farming and growing their own food – but they’re also experts when it comes to preserving the tastiest fruits of their labor. The family uses pickle recipes and relish recipes that have been passed down through the generations.

"My big thing is jelly," James said. "I like to make black raspberry jelly." His sister Anita said, "We're never lacking for relish to put on a hamburger…or jelly to go on toast."

To make relish the Thomas family uses an old-fashioned hand grinder to finely chop the cucumbers, onion and peppers. Then it’s time to add the seasonings – starting with sugar and adding salt, vinegar and pickling spices. In about two hours, the relish is complete.

The Thomas family recipes are secret and closely guarded – and the family is ready to compete once again this year.

For more information on this year's Maryland State Fair at the Timonium Fairgrounds, visit

Popular American Tradition at the Maryland State Fair: The Art of Canning

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