We can easily be surrounded by people who have no interest at all in homemaking etc. I am fairly lucky that way but many people aren't. It can be lonely in a world of NOT like minded people! Even worse we might be discouraged to do the right things and encouraged to do the wrong things. I see a lot of that, where young women are encouraged to not "waste their time" raising children and go out and do something "more important". This makes my blood boil. That's the work of the enemy right there is broad daylight. The internet is a big help though. I can talk canning fruit with the US ladies just like talking over the fence to my neighbour!
One place I frequent is A Working Pantry's facebook page. It is lovely. I get to see what everyone is canning, picking, planting and all sorts of things. Last week there was a report I just loved. Rosanne (in the U.S) was saying how her local McDonalds has a apple tree in the car park. There was an apple tree laden with apples with many on the ground. They asked a lady that worked there if they could pick them and she was amazed. She said she had never thought to pick them! Rosanne and her son picked eight shopping bags full of apples!
Rosanne is my kind of woman! I messaged her and next they are going foraging for Sumac. Then back for more apples. Also she is teaching her son about all the free food that is around. Many people do not see it. They think food comes from supermarkets.
Also in the last couple of weeks Teri has been busy preserving.
She was given peaches and was busy canning, then she had a lot of tomatoes and, most recently, free zucchini. She counted each thing as a blessing and didn't waste anything. At these times we need to get busy and make the most of it, cook, preserve, freeze, eat and share.
This is one way many people build up their pantry. Free food. Last week we talked about free and super cheap containers for food storage. This week lets see if we can fill shelves with free food!
It is going to vary according to where we live but sometimes it is amazing what we can find. Where we live now we get a lot of free food. But I always have as I have never been shy about asking someone who has a tree with falling wasted fruit if I can pick it and return with jam or a pie. Mostly you get a yes. I am amazed at what is around and is wasted.
My free food list currently is:
Rosemary in the garden,
Mint in Mum's garden.
Oregano, chives, parsley, thyme, strawberries in my pots.
(I am about to plant my basil, tomatoes etc. but have none currently)
Bay leaves from the farm.
Mandarins from Tania.
Fish Andy catches. Plus crabs sometimes.
Occasional figs from the farm.
Plums, quinces, oranges, lemons. limes and figs from my Aunts.
Lemons from Hilde.
Peaches from the neighbour. (two types)
Nectarines from another neighbour.
Quinces from a park.
I think thats it? At times the quantities are huge like last summer I had bucketsful of plums from my Aunts and perhaps a a couple of hundred big peaches from the neighbours tree.
Then it is time to get busy! This is a lot of food. It gives me pies, crumbles, jam, stewed fruit, cakes, muffins, fruit for smoothies and eating fresh and also some of these become presents.
It is true I buy the sugar, flour and other things to make some of these but the majority of it has come to me free and it is a big chance to add a lot to our pantry and freezer.
Over the years some of the ways I have found to "come by" free food is to keep your eyes open at all times. I notice blossoms and come back later to see what they turned into!
It is important to make the most of what you find. Not to dream about finding a certain thing but to dream about what you can make with that thing you do find.
If I am not sure what to make with something I look up recipes I have not tired before. There are usually so many ideas that it is easy to find ways to use even something unfamiliar. Just search "things to do with ....." and you will find so many options.
There are people who would not notice the apples in the car park that Rosanne did. She sees a big opportinity! I would see apple pies, apple crumble, apple sauce, baked apples, apple cake... oh my goodness there are so many things you can do with apples. Did I mention baked apples with pork? How about stewed apples and apple baby puree? Make an apple slice as a birthday present.... There are just so many possibilities!
When I lived in the country there was an apple tree on the side of the road half way between two towns. We took an annual trip to that tree. I would make apple recipes for about a week.
For years I swapped eggs with an old lady who lived over the road from me. In summer I was allowed to pick as much as I wanted from her peach and nectarine trees.
Ask. Ask around and let your family and friends know that you love to preserve, you love to cook and make jam etc.
Do deals. You will bake a pie if you are allowed to pick that fruit!
Look online and in the local paper if there is a free and give away section. You might even find a canning kit, jars or who knows what there.
Place a free ad in one of these places pr your church newsletter. Say you will pick fruit! Offer to return with a pie.
In Australia there is Ripe Near Me website. I am sure there are others too. I will be checking this everyday in summer. I check it weekly now.
Grow what you can.
Do swaps. If you have a lot of something see if you can trade/barter to increase your variety.
Encourage fishing, hunting, foraging and activities that cause you to end up with produce.
If you end up with produce you don't like still say yes and trade it. I used to get lobsters. I am allergic to seafood. But I leanred how to cook those lobsters and freeze them. I traded lobsters for all kinds of things!
Also at the farm we got a lot of field mushrooms. Hundreds of them. I traded a lot of those and used them as gifts for two people I knew who really loved them.
When you are away from home keep your eyes out. One time we were away on a little holiday and we ate at a cafe. I noticed a huge lemon tree and hundreds of lemons on the ground. I asked. That cafe did not use one lemon from that tree and said I was welcome to pick them. And as I would never travel without a basket and bags we filled several!
Lots of places have Face Book buy, sell and swap sites. I keep an eye on an Adelaide Hills produce swap fb page. Then there is Free Cycle, free advertising sections in local papers... You can check them regularly but be brave and post that you are looking for fruit, jars, canning equipment and you are willing to swap with whatever you might have you can trade with. You might get a shock by the results!
Also it pays to get to know your local op shops (thrift stores). Tell them what you are looking for. I have asked and found that out the back they have just the thing. Or if I come in next week they will save me this or that. Once in a country op shop I asked about old preserving jars. They had none. But the lady said out the back of their church they had boxes of them! She asked me to meet her there once the op shop was shut. Another time a lady said no but she had a whole box of jars in her shed she would love to get rid of! Always ask. These times have often led me to free fruit as well as they ask me what I am doing with all these jars!
Many times old people don't pick their fruit as they can't manage. Offering to pick it for them usually helps them and results in a share.
Many times we are going to have one thing in excess. It happens that your zucchini go crazy and you have a ridiculous amount. One of mine is parsley. I have commercial quantities much of the year! And basil. That goes crazy and is tough to keep up with. At Mum's hers is Bay Leaves.
I always come home from the farm with Bay Leaves. Recently I had three huge bunches hanging on my drying ladder.
I have not bought Bay Leaves in many years so I had no idea how much they cost. In our supermaket I looked and a tiny packet with a few leaves was expensive. It was working out that they were 40 or 50 c each! Really? I am sure you can get them cheaper than that but this was the price in our supermarket. I decided if they are this expensive I should be giving them as gifts.
My bunches were dry so I picked off the leaves and packed them into cellophane bags.
I got three large bags of over 100 leaves and 14 bags of about two dozen leaves plus a jar full for my pantry. As I am giving pantry themed gifts this year these will go well. So I added to my gift supply.
I am always saying "be ever watchful" and "ask and you shall receive". Both these seem to work a treat in relation to free food. You can really build up your pantry. Also when we have free peaches or other fruit I am not buying fruit. We eat that. So the money that week is saved and can go into the other bargains for the pantry or the emergency fund.
My Nana had the same knack for getting free food and always had vases of free flowers. Yep, she would see a giant Lilac and march up the driveway of the house and introduce herself and ask if she could pick some. She made many friends this way! But she was good, she would return with eggs or a cake and so it would go on as a permanent arrangement!
This means I will not be able to reply to comments until the weekend but I love your comments so please just give me a few days to reply. Also Fridays post will be a day or two late. But I will still do Feather your Nest Friday as I hopefully will have a lot to report. Also hopefully my farm trip will give me free food to bring back!
Andy has to work so he will keep the home fires burning.
I hope you are having a great week. We have welcomed Spring! And a good thing is that in spring and summer I get a lot of free fruit and can really add hugely to my pantry. I also need to do some planting and grow as much as I can. xxx