Monday, August 2, 2010

Carnish Culture: EATLACMA Public Fruit Jam

Yesterday was a productive day. I may have been up too late the night before (and OK was maybe a little hungover), but by 3:00pm Sunday I was leaving Hancock Park with several jars of delicious still-warm homemade jam from unwanted tree fruit, with a big smile on my face. I attended EATLACMA's Public Fruit Jam, in collaboration with LA art/awareness collective Fallen Fruit (who are no strangers on ChocoMeat). Working with LACMA made this, Fallen Fruit's fifth public fruit jam, the biggest and most successful yet. Throughout the day several hundred Angelenos donated their excess tree fruit & edible herbs and worked off-recipe to make innovative jams that truly represent the taste of their city.
I was amazed by the cross-section of LA represented by the crowd. Every age, color and origin which make our city so diverse were in attendance, sitting side by side like a Utopian vision, chatting while cutting fruit. We approached the fruit table with our offering of grapefruit, and per a volunteer's instruction picked 8-12 pieces of fruit to use for our jam.
Since the stone fruit seemed to be most popular and there was so much citrus left, I decided on a mixed citrus marmalade, with fresh mint.
Peeling, seeding and separating the fruit took longer than I anticipated, but was enjoyable (and thank goodness there was shade - one of many aspects that made this an expertly run event).
Next came the cooking station. Fallen Fruit co-founder Austin Young, above, documents and chats with a participant while our volunteer helper Lisa, below, rocks a hot plate.
We heated the mixture with pectin until it came to a boil, added sugar and continued to stir on lower heat until the fruit broke down and slowly returned to a boil. We then quickly poured the marmalade into mason jars, sealed and set on their tops (to fully seal). Our batch made 7 jars-worth of jam (one of which Lisa snuck in her take-home pile). "It's crazy how easy it is," she said helping us wipe the jars, "and we just keep buying it at the store out of habit."
We left a couple jars of our marmalade at the group sharing table, swapping out for another participants' stone fruit and lavender jam. A tasting table next door had bread, crackers and peanut butter, for those who only have their jelly the way mom used to make it.
Get involved! EATLACMA events continue through November at LACMA. Follow Fallen Fruit to learn more about their numerous community-oriented events.

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