More Productive Neighborhood Foraging
I had another successful fruit harvest yesterday. The wild plums were beginning to fall off the branches because of the couple frosts that we had, so I picked a lot of underipe ones. They will still make good jam. I experimented with a small batch of grape-plum jam yesterday. I used local black concord grapes and my wild plums. For a sweetener I used Cascadian Farm grape juice concentrate. I also surrendered to using a natural pectin from the food co-op. I have a recipe to make my own pectin from apples, but I haven't tried it yet. As for the jam? After much boiling down I ended up with 4 pints of delicious, thick yet tart jam.
Anyhow, I really encourage people to try neighborhood foraging. The results are wonderful- delicious food at no cost, becoming familiar with your neighborhood, and sometimes a good conversation starter because someone will ask what you are doing. Here are some foraging tips:
1. If you live in a rural area, pay attention to the landscape as you drive to town. Look for abandoned homesteads. Almost all farms and old homes had orchards and gardens to provide food for themselves. Chances are you will find an apple tree. Plum trees and cherry trees are also common. Rhubarb patches and asparagus patches also can be found often next to old barns.
2. If you live in town, alleys are the best bet. Look for older neighborhoods with large backyards. When I lived in Sandpoint, ID the alleys were like a cafeteria-Bing cherries, grapes, raspberries, apples, plums, even nectarines. People often have old fences between their yard and the alley so bushes and vines often grow up which may contain fruit. Fruit trees often hang into the alley which makes the fruit up for grabs. I have even had the owners come out and tell me it was okay to come in their yard and harvest the tree because they weren't going to do anymore picking.
3. Pay attention to the trees when visiting parks and cemeteries. These are often good for nut trees.
If anyone has any other tips please let me know. As I always tell myself-it's a shame to see all of that food go to waste, especially when so much food gets shipped into the town from hundreds of miles away. Foraging is a sure fire way to eat local.