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Thursday, June 12, 2014

How I Got Lots of Free Fruit Today

 photo IMG_0553_zpsee8e7cf7.jpgThis 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?

6 comments:

  1. Near us we have a Fruit-Harvest Project. A tree owner calls the group leader, the leader sends out an email, and volunteer harvesters come and harvest the tree. The Harvesters can take home the amount of fruit that they want and the rest goes to the local Food Bank and other charities. I can't wait until fall!

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  2. Awesome. So awesome. I admire you for saying yes and seeing opportunity. I do have a reputation. Because I never say no to anything ever I now have people approaching me with their produce. Not to mention I accost the people at the grocery store who are putting things into their throw out box :)

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  3. Last month I drove by a huge patch of rhubarb taking my husband to work every day and I kept staring at it, wishing I had some, mouth drooling, thinking of strawberry rhubarb pie and rhubarb jam.....finally one day I decided to stop by the house and ask. I drove by twice before I had the courage to stop but I finally did and was met with a smile and a "take as much as you want"! I was able to harvest over 40 pounds of rhubarb, all because I had the courage to ask! I would do it again for sure! Mmmmm, pie!

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  4. those look like cherry-plums. yum.

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  5. I also have a reputation! Food, clothes, furniture, whatever! I recycle, upcycle and SHARE. What I can't use, I drop off at Goodwill and save others the trip. It started when my kids were young and I really was in need. They have all left home and I now need nothing. People still think of me when cleaning out, because I still share with those in need. Got a porch swing last week that needs a little repair. My son hustled some nice pallets to replace the wood and I have the materials to make a cushion.......allllll freeeee!

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  6. I do admire you all! Growing up on a farm and being raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression, I was raised to can, freeze, dry and most of all share! After 21 years of marriage, my hubby is getting accustomed to it! There is a great sense of accomplishment to look at those Mason jars filled with beautiful food! This year I am getting all of my plants from my compost bin. It's amazing how many seeds sprout! What I grow is free and the plants were also!

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