The first day of fall has come and gone, and in its honor we gathered this past Monday for the first public Eatsy Food Lab at our Brooklyn offices. Autumnal equinoxes have been happening for sometime, but our food labs are new, and, we hope, equally as significant.
Eatsy Labs will cover a range of culinary subjects. The idea is to provide hands-on how-to’s for the foodies among you, and to nourish and encourage cookery. To kick off the series, we focused on the traditional and seasonally appropriate act of preserving. Summer is now officially behind us, but its fruits linger and we’re all well advised to take advantage. At Eatsy we believe in the sound practices of home economics, and preserving prevents waste (who can eat all these tomatoes?), takes advantage of fresh food and brightens winter’s hardy fare.
The first Lab was co-hosted with Etsy Ecology, our in-house ecological strategists. Josh Wise led the tomato canning workshop; sterilizing glass jars, blanching and peeling tomatoes with attendees, seasoning them with a little salt and lemon and then sealing the jars and re-submerging them in boiling water. His southern gentility made canning especially friendly and inviting; the bandanna he tied around his head made him authoritative. While Josh is an advocate of canning and all things green, he did some research before leading the class and recommends you read this good canned tomato recipe for a clear and thorough introduction.
Josh leads a tomato canning session.
I demonstrated two jamming techniques for plums — one quick and easy, the other requiring slightly more time to achieve a plummier essence. We sniffed and mused about what flavors to add, sampled the fruits and decided to go simple.
A note before you begin: preserving is easy and fun but there are important do’s and dont’s to keep in mind for your health. Familiarize yourself with the basics of jamming and water bath canning at PickYourOwn.org.
Quick Plum Preserves
2 pounds firm black plums
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 stick cinnamon, star anise or orange peel
Halve the plums and remove the pits.
In a large bowl, toss the plums with the sugar and water. Transfer to a heavy saucepan and gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Cook for about 1 hour, or until the liquid runs off the spoon in large, thick droplets.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash jars and sanitize them by submerging them in boiling water for at least 10 minutes; keep the jars warm until ready to use. Place the rings and lids in boiling water to sanitize as well; the orange gummand should soften. Keep these warm as well.
Dry the jars and the lids thoroughly. Place your cinnamon stick in the jars and pour the hot jam over top, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.
Use a sanitized spoon to stir out any air bubbles. Place the lid over top and screw the rings on tight. Carefully re-submerge the jars in the boiling water so they are covered by at least 1-2 inches of water. Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Using the appropriate tongs, carefully remove the jars and transfer jars to a rack to cool.
In this recipe, the plums are tossed with sugar and sit for a few hours or overnight so they give off their juices. The juices are then used as cooking liquid; the result is more ‘plum-y’ in taste.
2 pounds plums
1 1/2 cups sugar
Halve and pit the plums. Cut the plums into 1/2-inch quarters. Toss the plums with the sugar and let stand in a strainer, tossing from time to time, for a few hours or overnight.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the plums. Place the plums and their juices in a non-reactive saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.
Follow the directions in the recipe above to sterilize and fill your jars. Enjoy plum jam on toast, with cheese, in pies and cakes, or as a sweetener in sauces. Jam will keep on the shelf for months and once opened, in the fridge for 1-2 months.