October 28, 2011

Apples...Apples...Wait, Free Apples!

I love fresh fruit. You know, the kind that doesn't come from the store, but comes fresh from the vine? It is so tasty. A few years back, I started gleaning from friends and family who had too much produce, or weren't going to use it. I think it is a shame to see good produce go to waste.

We live in a fairly new area. There are not many mature trees around. We have very few neighbors who have fruit trees in their yards. Last fall, every time I would drive my kids to school, I passed by one particular neighbor's house that had apple trees in their yard. The apples were so pretty, and I was a little jealous of their trees. Later as winter set in, I noticed that the apples were still on the trees. I was so sad to see that during the coldest part of the winter, there were still apples on the trees, which had gone to waste. They were brown, rotten, and looked so sad hanging on the trees.

So, this summer I watched as the apples ripened. A few weeks ago I finally got the nerve to knock on the door and ask about the apples. They said they were not going to use them. They said yes, I could pick as many as I wanted! Really? Free apples? Wahoo!!! They said I could take all of them, along with the grapes in the back yard. I was so excited. I couldn't wait to start picking!

I called up one of my neighbors and we gathered a bunch of buckets, boxes, a ladder, her husband, and our kids. Then we started picking.

We ended up picking 20 pounds of red and green grapes! I turned mine into grape juice. I mixed it one part fresh juice to one part water and added a little sugar. It was SO yummy!

Our girls were fascinated with the bugs around. They loved picking the apples and putting them into the boxes.

The family had one tree of green apples,  one with red apples, and one with yellow ones. When we went to pic these, we realized they were not yellow apples, but Asian pears. I am not a fan of pears, but these were delicious! I am so in love and I want to plant an Asian pear tree in our own backyard. When we started to pick the pears, we found that many of them had wasps on them. We decided that the wasps loved the fact this was free food, too! We picked a bunch of pears and left some for the wasps. 

When we were done, we went to Mary's house and divided up the fruit. We ended up picking:
  • 20 pounds of grapes -10 pounds for each family
  • 180 pounds of red and green apples - 90 pounds for each family
  • 20 pounds of yellow Asian pears - 10 pounds for each family preservation
Yes, that is a total of 220 pounds of free produce that otherwise would have gone to waste. So, I got 110 pounds of fresh produce for our family. Some of the apples had worms, so those were turned into applesauce. Our whole family helped. The good apples going to be stored to eat later. We are also planning to make pear and grape jam.

Picking free produce {It makes cents!}

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