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Everybody loves to eat! This project helps you learn to do make what you like. In this project you can do fun experiments, prepare recipes, and go on fact-finding missions. You’ll have fun learning about food ingredients, food characteristics, nutrition and food safety. Make meals and snacks, create beautiful pastries and baked goods, and learn the art and science of cooking. 

CLICK HERE to download the Cooking Spark Sheet

CLICK HERE to download the Food Science Spark Sheet

CLICK HERE to download the Sports Nutrition Spark Sheet

CLICK HERE to download the Food Preservation Spark Sheet

Project Levels

COOKING 101

In level 1, learn the basics of cooking, conduct food science experiments, prepare classic 4-H recipes, and practice food and kitchen safety.

COOKING 201

In level 2, learn to prevent foodborne illness, conduct food science experiments, prepare recipes from each food group, and use equipment to prepare food.

COOKING 301 

In level 3, learn to prepare food for a party, make yeast breads and rolls, bake shortened cakes, and prepare food on a grill.

COOKING 401

In level 4, learn to prepare ethnic foods, bake flatbreads and ethnic breads, make candy, bake pastries and pies, bake foam cakes, use dry– and most-heating cooking methods, cook with herbs and spices, and prepare celebration meals.

FOOD SCIENCE 1

In level 1, explore the secrets of baking, experiment with leavening agents, and experiment with gluten.

FOOD SCIENCE 2

In level 2, explore protein chemistry, learn how eggs are used in food, learn how to make milk into cheese, and experiment with protein foods.

FOOD SCIENCE 3

In level 3, explore the mysteries of fruits and veggies, prepare attractive food presentations, and experiment with taste and texture.

FOOD SCIENCE 4

In level 4, explore a career as a food scientist, create new foods, and experiment with crystallization.

SPORTS NUTRITION

Eating well and exercising daily are keys to a healthy life. Whether you are competing or not, learn to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn and understand the importance of hydration.

PUT IT UP! FOOD PRESERVATION

Preserving your own garden produce can help extend your family’s food budget while guaranteeing your food is healthy and safe. Resources are available whatever preservation method you choose: canning, pickling, freezing, or drying.

Resources to Help You Learn

  • 4-H Cooking 101 
  • 4-H Cooking 201
  • 4-H Cooking 301
  • 4-H Cooking 401
  • Food Science 1: What's on Your Plate? 1 
  • Food Science 2: What's on Your Plate? 2
  • Food Science 3: What's on Your Plate? 3
  • Food Science 4: What's on Your Plate? 4
  • Can My Tomatoes
  • Make My Strawberry Jam
  • Make My Pickles 
  • Freeze My Fruits and Veggies
  • Dry My Fruits
  • Can My Vegetables
  • Helper's Guide for Food Science 1
  • What's On Your Plate? Unit 1 Facilitator Guide
  • What's On Your Plate? Unit 2 Facilitator Guide
  • What's On Your Plate? Unit 3 Facilitator Guide
  • What's On Your Plate? Unit 4 Facilitator Guide
  • Helper’s Guide for Put It Up! Food Preservation for Youth
  • 4-H Foods Demonstration Guide
  • Delivering Dynamic Demonstrations DVD: Picking a winning topic; creating an outline; tricks of the trade; and ready, set, go are segments of this foods demonstration video; includes interviews with three food experts and four 4-H food demonstrations from the State Fair. Complements 4-H Food Demonstration Guide.

State Fair Exhibit Rules

Each county may submit 7 entries total from any of these food classes: 50200, 50201, 50202, 50203, 50204, 50206, 50208, 50211; and 1 entry from 50210.

4-H Cooking 101 (SF 50200)

Using the recipes included in the project manual, prepare an exhibit of 3 cereal marshmallow bars; OR ¼ of 8” square or round coffeecake; OR 3 cookies. No icing should be on any products. If you make changes to the recipe, bring a copy of the recipe with your changes. Bars, coffeecake, or cookies should be displayed on a disposable plate placed in a zip-sealing plastic bag. In addition to your food exhibit, complete the What’s on Your Plate? Activity on pages 10-11 in the 4-H Cooking 101 project manual.  Bring a document with printed pictures of your 3 or more plates and the answers to questions 1-7 to remain on display with your project.  The words on the plates must be legible and clearly visible in the picture.  Pictures, graphics or photos are acceptable.

4-H Cooking 201 (SF 50201)

Using the recipes included in the project manual, prepare an exhibit of 3 cheese muffins; OR 3 scones; OR ½ loaf (9” x 5”) of basic nut bread. If you make changes to the recipe, bring a copy of the recipe with your changes.  Bread, muffins, or scones should be displayed on a disposable plate placed in a zip-sealing plastic bag.  In addition to your food exhibit, complete Experiment with Meal Planning Activity on page 91 in the 4-H Cooking 201 project manual.  Bring either page 91 with your completed answers or a document with the answers to remain on display with your project along with a picture of the meal you prepared.  You do not need to complete the Challenge Yourself section on page 91.

4-H Cooking 301 (SF 50202)

Using the recipes included in the project manual, prepare an exhibit of 3 dinner rolls; OR loaf of yeast bread; OR 1 tea ring; OR 3 sweet rolls; OR one layer of a Rich White Cake or Rich Chocolate Cake, top side up (without frosting). If icing is used on the tea ring or sweet rolls, the recipe for the icing must also come from the book. The yeast bread/roll dough may be prepared in a bread making machine; however prepared mixes are not permitted. If you make changes to the recipe, bring a copy of the recipe with your changes.  Display exhibit on a disposable plate or pie tin and place in a zip-sealing plastic bag.  In addition to your food exhibit, complete one of the six experiments:  Experiment with Flour p. 33-34, Experiment with Kneading p. 35-36, Experiment with Yeast p. 37-38 or 39, Experiment with Butter p. 62-63 or Experiment with Cheese p. 104-105.  Bring a document with a printed picture of your experiment and the answers to the experiment questions to remain on display with your project. 

4-H Cooking 401 (SF 50203)

Using the recipes included in the project manual, prepare an exhibit of ¼ of a 15” x 10” loaf of focaccia bread (do not include dipping oil); OR one baked pie shell – traditional, oil, or whole wheat (no graham cracker); OR ¼ Golden Sponge Cake, top side up, without frosting; OR ½ loaf French Bread. If you make changes to the recipe, bring a copy of the recipe with your changes.  Display exhibit on a disposable plate and place in a zip-sealing plastic bag.  In addition to your food exhibit, pick one of the recipes from Cooking 401 that is not a choice for exhibit.  Make the recipe and take a picture of the results.  Bring a document with a printed picture of the food you made from the recipe and the answers to the following two questions:  1.) If you made this recipe again, what would you do differently?  2.) What did you learn that can help you in other ways besides preparing food?

Food Science 1 (SF 50204)

Prepare a display, digital presentation, or poster on one of the food science experiments from the manual that you completed. Share 1) the food science question you investigated; 2) process used to conduct the experiment; 3) results and observations; 4) what you learned; and 5) how you have applied this information. You must furnish any equipment you need for the exhibit. Internet service is not provided. All exhibits must include something visual, such as a printed copy of a digital presentation. Electronic equipment will only be used during your judging time and will not remain on display during the exhibit period.

Food Science 2 (SF 50204)

Prepare a display, digital presentation, or poster on one of the food science experiments from the manual that you completed. Share 1) the food science question you investigated; 2) process used to conduct the experiment; 3) results and observations; 4) what you learned; and 5) how you have applied this information. You must furnish any equipment you need for the exhibit. Internet service is not provided. All exhibits must include something visual, such as a printed copy of a digital presentation. Electronic equipment will only be used during your judging time and will not remain on display during the exhibit period.

Food Science 3 (SF 50204)

Prepare a display, digital presentation, or poster on one of the food science experiments from the manual that you completed. Share 1) the food science question you investigated; 2) process used to conduct the experiment; 3) results and observations; 4) what you learned; and 5) how you have applied this information. You must furnish any equipment you need for the exhibit. Internet service is not provided. All exhibits must include something visual, such as a printed copy of a digital presentation. Electronic equipment will only be used during your judging time and will not remain on display during the exhibit period.

Food Science 4 (SF 50204)

Prepare a display, digital presentation, or poster on one of the food science experiments from the manual that you completed. Share 1) the food science question you investigated; 2) process used to conduct the experiment; 3) results and observations; 4) what you learned; and 5) how you have applied this information. You must furnish any equipment you need for the exhibit. Internet service is not provided. All exhibits must include something visual, such as a printed copy of a digital presentation. Electronic equipment will only be used during your judging time and will not remain on display during the exhibit period.

Sports Nutrition (SF 50206)

Prepare a display, digital presentation, or poster on one of the activity chapters in the manual that you completed. The activity chapters are listed by page number in the table of contents. Your exhibit should include, at minimum, information on one physical fitness component and one food/recipe component from the activity chapter. The exhibit should include the project manual with the pages of the activity completed. You may also include live demonstration of physical activities. Do not bring food made using the recipes, but consider adding pictures of the completed recipes to your exhibit. You must furnish any equipment you need for the exhibit. Internet service is not provided. All exhibits must include something visual, such as a printed copy of a digital presentation. Electronic equipment will only be used during your judging time and will not remain on display during the exhibit period.

Examples for Activity 1

  • Example A: Make a video of yourself practicing flexibility, strength and endurance physical fitness activities and making pasta salad with different vegetable, pasta and dressing ideas. Bring a screen shot and brief description of your video to leave on display.
  • Example B: Make a poster of pictures of flexibility, strength and endurance physical fitness activities and information on the results of making the spinach and mandarin orange salad. Include answers to the questions in the book.

Food Preservation (SF 50208)

Prepare an exhibit using ONE of the following food preservation methods: canning; freezing; drying; pickles/relishes; jams, jellies and preserves OR a combination of these (see Preservation Combination option below), excluding Freezing. No freezer jam exhibits will be allowed for Freezing; Jams, Jellies, and Preserves; or for the Preservation Combination options.

  • Canning – The exhibit should include two different canned foods in appropriate jars for the products. Food may be fruit, vegetable, or tomato product (i.e. salsa, juice, etc.).
  • Freezing – Prepare a nutrition display that illustrates a freezing principle. There is NOT a food exhibit option for this preservation method.
  • Drying – Exhibit two (2) different dried foods packed in plastic food storage bags. Choose from fruit, vegetable, fruit leather or meat jerky.
  • Pickles and Relishes – Exhibit two pint jars of different recipes of pickles and/or relishes.
  • Jams, Jellies, and Preserves – Exhibit half-pint jars of two different jams, jellies, and/or preserves.
  • Preservation Combination – Exhibit two different preserved food products, excluding Freezing, in appropriate jars/packaging (drying). For example, exhibit 1 jar of tomatoes (Canning) and 1 half-pint of jelly (Jams, Jellies, and Preserves).

All preserved products should be prepared and processed according to the current USDA/Extension information. USDA information on preserving food, including recipes, can be found at: www.homefoodpreservation.com or web.extension.illinois.edu/foodpreservation/  Recipes must be processed in a water-bath or pressure canner. 

All food exhibits must be labeled with: 1) The name of the food; 2) The date preserved; 3) Appropriate method(s) of food preservation (For canned projects: boiling water bath or pressure canner; For drying projects: Specify equipment used (food dehydrator, oven, etc.))

Examples:

  • Strawberry jam, boiling water bath. July 13, 2014.
  • Green beans, pressure canner. July 13, 2014.
  • Beef jerky, food dehydrator and oven. July 13, 2014.

All food exhibits must be accompanied with the recipe(s) – typed or written, with the source of the recipe(s) listed.. Required Recipes and Sources for Food Preservation Exhibitsall food preservation recipes be from an approved source. Those sources are:

  • PUT IT UP! Food Preservation for Youth manuals
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • National Center for Home Food Preservation
  • Ball/Kerr Canning (recipes after 1985)
  • Mrs. Wages

DO NOT BRING RECIPES FROM:  Magazine or newspaper clippings, Pinterest (unless it is from a source listed above), Grandma’s or a recipe from a family member or friend without a source, Cookbooks (excluding the Ball, Kerr and Put It Up! book).

Canning Equipment Requirements: All canned products must be canned in clear, standard jars in good condition (no chips or cracks). Jars must be sealed using two-piece canning lids (flat lid and band). Must use a new, unused flat lid. Bands must not be rusty or severely worn.

Foods Innovation Class (SF 50211)

Open to youth enrolled in any Foods project.

Demonstrate the skills and knowledge you have gained through the project.  The exhibit may include, but isn’t limited to, original recipes, results of experiments not in the foods project books, variations on recipes or experimenting with unique cooking or baking methods.  Your work can be displayed by a food product, demonstrations, digital presentations, performances, or posters which you have made. Choose whatever method best shows what you’ve learned. Your exhibit should not fit in the other exhibit options for this project. You must furnish any equipment you need for your exhibit. Internet service will not be provided for the exhibit. All exhibits must include something visual, such as a printed copy of a digital presentation, which will remain on display during the exhibition. Electronic equipment will only be used during your personal judging time and will not remain on display during the entire exhibit period.  If you bring a food product, the food will NOT be tasted.

Foods Nutrition Ready4Life Challenge (SF 50210)

Open to 11- to 18-year-olds enrolled in any Foods project

Exhibits in this category must include the following: a) a physical representation of the career or business product such as a model, prototype or display/portfolio that includes images of accomplished work; b) verbal or written explanations that demonstrate knowledge of the related career or business fields, potential careers, and the appropriate requirements for achievement in those fields. The judging criteria for this class values thoroughness of career and/or business exploration and pursuit above the workmanship of the physical specimen on display.

Foods Maker (SF 50400)

Counties may submit 3 entries TOTAL combined from all Maker exhibit divisions.

Exhibits in this category are designed to be multi-disciplinary in nature, innovative, and must not fit into any other exhibit category. To qualify for this category, your project MUST abide by the following guidelines:

  • Exhibits must be an object or device that has an intended purpose and uses technology in either a mechanical way, digital (computer) way, or combination of the two.
  • The device must be something that can be used in everyday life by multiple people (a target audience), and MUST be manufactured/built by the exhibitor (If not fully manufactured by the exhibitor, the device MUST be modified structurally or be reprogramed to perform a different function other than what it was designed to do
  • Exhibit MUST be able to interact with the outside world. (e.g. an on off switch, input sensors, feedback, etc.)
  • Exhibits MUST include a detailed build log with instructions on how to make or build the exhibit, AND contain either a 3D rendering or detailed and labeled sketches of the device/product.
  • All parts and software used in the design/build MUST be listed in a detailed Bill of Materials including cost per item and total cost. Total time spent on the build must be documented in your build log.

In addition, exhibitors are HIGHLY encouraged to use tools such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, routers and/or other hand/power tools to help in the manufacturing process (NOTE: Simply 3-D printing or laser cutting an object without the other specifications does not qualify as a Maker Project). It is also HIGHLY encouraged that exhibits use Open Source Software and/or Hardware in the build.