This morning, I started out with a pretty empty fridge. I am planning on taking a trip to the farmer's market to stock up on produce, so all I had today in my fridge, practically, was carrots.
Now, hours later, I have an additional 35.5 lbs of fruit that I got entirely free.
Let me explain how:
I got a call from a lady in my community this morning. She has plum trees and her trees are bursting with fruit, she tells me. Would I like some? she asks.
Absolutely, is my reply.
On one condition- she says. I'll give you a ton of plums, but when you can them or preserve them, I want a jar of jam or whatever it is you make.
Of course I took up that deal. Who would turn down such an offer?
On the way to her house, I passed someone's house. I noticed a bunch of rotting lemons on the ground, underneath their lemon tree. Since I was in full "fruit picking" mode, I knocked on their door and asked them if they were planning on picking their lemons or if I could pick them. They had no plans on picking the lemons and said I could help myself.
While I was there, I saw an apple tree also full of fruit, with apples rotting on the ground beneath, and got permission to pick those for myself as well.
Total yield- 3 lbs of lemons and 5 lbs of apples.
Once I got to my friend's house, she told me that that morning she'd picked a lot of plums, and gave me a big bag of yellow plums- 6.5 lbs- that are so delicious and sweet and miniature- not much bigger than cherry tomatoes.
As for the purple plums, there were still many left on the tree, and she said I could pick as many as I wanted. I came home with 20 lbs of purple plums, so sugary sweet that they burst open in your mouth and melt away. I haven't tasted more delicious plums ever!
So, all in all, I got 34.5 lbs of free fruit today. Not bad for having started out the day with a practically empty fridge!
How did I get it? By having a reputation as someone who loves to forage, who enjoys canning and preserving and cooking, who enjoys healthy eating, and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty is how I got the plums.
But the second? The apples and the lemons? That just took the guts to knock on a strangers' door and make a request. The worst that could happen? They'd say no.
There aren't enough oranges an apples that I'd need to preserve them, but the plums... well, the purple ones were so overripe that many didn't make it home whole, so I need to preserve them pronto. I boiled them all up into compote now, and tomorrow, I will de-seed them, add sweetener (for some I will be using jaggery, for others, sugar), and then make some other stuff with them. Compote? Fruit soup? Jam? Chutney? Time will tell...
And as for the yellow plums? They're just waiting in my fridge for someone to pop them into their mouths to eat.
Have you ever gotten free produce? How? Was it because you have a "reputation"? Because you approached a stranger and asked to pick? Or some other way? What would you do to preserve a bunch of plums?