Iowa City canning champ gets 100 blue ribbons at 2017 state fair

Dr. Rod Zeitler spends 500 hours a year canning

An Iowa City doctor who entered 187 canning competitions at the Iowa State Fair this week emerged from judging with 168 ribbons — 100 of them blue.

Dr. Rod Zeitler, 65, an internist a Mercy Towncrest Internal Medicine in Iowa City, told The Gazette in July he spends about 500 hours a year canning foods for the fair. He toted all his canned produce, jellies, jams, relishes, sauces and conserves to Des Moines Sunday for judging Tuesday and Wednesday.

Zeitler said Thursday — the first day of the 11-day fair — he won 100 blue ribbons, 49 red and 19 white in canning. The fresh garden produce he enters at the fair hasn’t been judged yet.

The carrots Zeitler canned when The Gazette visited his house last month won a red ribbon.

“I was very happy with results,” Zeitler said by email. “I had a good time getting together with my competitors and sharing experiences.”

Because eating improperly canned foods can cause food poisoning, Iowa State Fair judges do not taste canned veggies, meat, poultry and fish.

Rather, judges open the jars and remove some of the food to test it for crispness and texture. They score the canned foods on color, consistency of size of the pieces within and whether the food stays packed at the bottom of jars.

Jellies, jams and canned fruits are tasted.

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