Free Food

As an extremely frugal foodie, there's nothing I like better than free food. (Except perhaps a delicious meal made from that food.)
What better source of free food than nature's own bounty?
As food waste truly bothers me, I especially like getting free food that would otherwise go uneaten and rot.
Best of  all is when this free food is a delicacy or simply something expensive to buy in a store.

Foraging- collecting free food right from from the source.

I haven't bought pears or plums or grapes yet this season because the price isn't something I'm willing to pay. When plums cost 8 times as much as melons and bananas, and twice or triple the price of apples, I usually don't buy them unless as a special treat.
Grapes and pears are not as expensive as plums, but are still pretty costly around here, so they don't make it into my shopping cart on a regular basis.

On Tuesday, my mom treated the family to an afternoon at the pool. Imagine my excitement when I saw a huge pear tree, filled with enormous amounts of ripe fruit at the entrance to the pool. No one was taking those pears- the ground was littered with piles of rotted fruit.
I took my bags and started filling them up. On my return home, I had 2 huge shopping bags filled with pears.

After a bunch of the pears were already eaten

On Thursday, I went on a walk around my neighborhood. There were so many edible plants either growing wild or in public places, bearing fruit free for the taking.

I returned home from my walk with the tastiest food imaginable, acquired for the price of the time spent foraging.

The fruits of my forage.

Grape leaves, figs, and roses.

Rosemary, lavender, and lavender flowers.

Olive leaves.

Olives, dwarf pomegranates and almonds.

A closer look at the almonds and dwarf pomegranates.

All this edible goodness was simply there, available for the taking. So I did.

On my way home, I passed a home with a giant plum tree and admired it. The man of the house offered that we could come help ourselves to as many plums as we wanted, as there were simply too many for his family to eat.
The plums were so juicy and sweet and overripe that some even burst on the way home.

So succulent and so good.

Remember yesterday's post, about the benefit of simply asking? After seeing all those plums about to go to waste at the neighbors house (there were hundreds littering the ground, simply getting stepped on and squished because there were too many), I sent out an email to our community's list serve and asked if anyone had any extra fruit from their trees that they couldn't use.
A neighbor, currently abroad, told me to go over to their yard and help myself to whatever fruit were currently ripe, as they would otherwise rot in the interim.

Today, I went over with the kids and I got myself a nice batch of a different type of plums and a few bunches of grapes.
Later, when Mr Penniless got home, we made a family outing to pick capers and caperberries from the weeds nearby.

Plums, grapes, and caperberries.

What am I possibly doing with all my foraged foods?

  • Rosemary and lavender are currently hung up to dry, to be used in teas and as spices. On Friday, I made lavender and rosemary potatoes, so scrumptious and delicious and different.
  • Olive leaves are sold by specialty health food shops for a lot of money as they make a very healthy tea. We use our free olive leaves to make a delicious and nutritious and thirst quenching olive leaf iced tea.
  • Pears became a pear crumble and compote, and I'm in the middle of making pear vinegar for the leftover cores. (Still a bunch more pears to eat whenever the mood hits us.)
  • Dwarf pomegranates were added to the fruit compote, as were the figs.
  • Almonds were eaten plain.
  • Plums were made into a Chinese plum sauce and in the compote, as well as for noshing.
  • Olives, capers, and caperberries are currently in stage one of the pickling process- the water bath. The capers  and caperberries will be ready in approximately a week, but the olives will take a good few months.
  • Grapes will either be eaten plain, made into juice, or into raisins. I still have to decide.
  • Grape leaves will either be stuffed, served with rice, or as a garnish to different foods. I'm looking for more recipes as well.

So, that's my harvest. Free, foraged, and full of organic goodness and deliciousness!

Have you ever foraged? What have you picked? Was it from someone's yard, the wild, or in a public area?
Do you get embarrassed to be seen foraging, or are you proud of your using your ingenuity to get delicious foods for free?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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