Gleaning is a wonderful way to get things for free! And last week a friend introduced me to a place just brimming with organic apples, free for the picking. It’s in a large public park in our city, out in the country a bit. In a far off corner, she discovered that there was a small grove of apple trees.
Not ones to miss out on an opportunity like this, we both packed up our toddler and baby and headed out for a morning of apple picking. I’m sure we were quite a site, her precariously perched up on these ancient branches, and me attempting to catch and juggle the apples as she threw them down (or just shook the tree so much that they came tumbling down all at once!). I wish I had remembered my camera to take a picture of us, or of our 3 year olds munching on apple after apple, or trying to feed them to my little baby (probably wouldn’t have done much harm, he could have only gummed it, I suppose).
I didn’t think to pull out my camera until most of the apples had already been made into applesauce, but my darling hubby reminded me that I should post about my find. This pic is the remaining apples after I made several litres of applesauce, and my daughter had probably eaten more than 10 herself.
Aside from them being free, the best part of it all was that they organic, untouched and virtually unknown to anyone! I guarantee, we’ll be back next fall!
It got me thinking about what else could be had through gleaning. One thing that we try to take advantage of (in fact, my husband practically counts down the days until they’re ripe) is local wild blackberries. In our area, blackberries grow like weeds (literally, we actually had a small bush in our backyard that I had to get cut down before it started to take over the whole garden area). We go picking as much as we can during the 3-4 weeks that they are in peak season, and freeze whatever we don’t eat fresh or in a scrumptious blackberry crumble (steaming hot, tart and sweet at the same time, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sigh… I can’t wait for summer again).
Is there anything in your area that grows naturally that you could glean? Berries are a common one, and many parks have old apple trees that people just don’t realize are there or free for the picking. Depending on where you live, what about rhubarb, nuts, other tree fruits (cherries, plums), even herbs (of course, you need to know exactly what you are looking for so you don’t pick the wrong thing, but they often grow wild- when we visited Rome we learned that Palatine Hill is covered in a variety of cooking herbs!).