Saturday, September 22, 2012

Free Food!

Now that I have your attention.....

There is FREE FOOD everywhere in your neighborhood now, and for the last couple of months. People have fruit trees in their yards. The fruit ripens, maybe they pick some, maybe they let it all fall onto the grass or the sidewalk. Maybe they eventually pick up the rotting carcasses of the fruit and throw it in the trash.

We have had a WONDERFUL fruit year here in Northern Colorado. No late freezes in the spring means that our fruits were 3-4 weeks early in ripening, starting with the cherries, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, etc. The crops are very large, and at least for our fruit nicer than usual. Less insect damage.

So, introduce yourself to your neighbors whose fruit trees are groaning and breaking under the burden, and offer to pick the fruit for them. Chances are they will be thrilled. You can bake them a pie, give them a couple of jars of preserves, or just give them a bag or two of nice-looking picked fruit for themselves. If you have more than you can use, drop them off at your local Food Bank. They will be thrilled to get them. Apples, even organic apples with some worm damage, are very welcome there.

Obviously, don't take them fruit that is already rotting. Give that to someone you know who has chickens, or a pig or horse. Our chickens have eaten so many windfall apples in the last month, they are eating almost no chicken food. Every day I collect a bucket of decent looking ones and throw them in the chicken yard.

Our Fruit Parade:

  • May: Texas wild mulberries (delicious, if we can steal some from the robins); Nanking Cherries (like pie cherries but half-sized)
  • June: Pie cherries, apricots (first crop ever for these trees)
  • July: Early apples (4 weeks early this year); peaches
  • August: more peaches, greengage plums, purple plums, and wild plums; grapes
  • September: main crop apples (an old Delicious variety which really IS delicious); wild grapes
Our main crop apples usually ripen around October 1. Being a Delicious variety, they are watery, watery, watery, until they are ripe; then they have a beautiful sweet honeyed flavor. They make perfect applesauce (no sugar needed), are an excellent eating apple, and keep until March if you pick through them every 10 days or so and keep them in a cool place. Why the former owners of our property planted three standard trees of the same variety is beyond me (and our neighbors each have at least one tree of the same kind: cheaper by the dozen?). A semi-dwarf tree makes more sense for a family, but we have these Delicious apples, and are trying to find homes for them since the crop is well far and beyond what we can use.

We've been picking now for a couple of weeks, and many have fallen off the tree and gone into the chicken yard, and there are still about 1/3 of them up there. I've taken five boxes to the Food Bank, given away dozens of bags, and there are still more. The bounty is just astounding.

So, go out and pick some free food.

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