Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Guilt free food

I was driving in the middle of nowhere today when I saw something by the side of the road. I quickly did a u-turn and sure enough....
it was what I thought. A wild tree laden with quinces!
Fancy these being here by the roadside in the middle of Victoria! On a road I rarely travel. And at the time of year for quince picking!
I picked them and drove away elated. I found myself pondering how these trees (well, bushes really) got to be there. Was there once a homestead where the road now travels? Did someone plant these or did they self seed? I'll never know the answers.

What really amazes me is that the fruit was still on the tree when it was ripe for the picking!! Maybe no-one knew what they were?! This is the best kind of food to obtain. I suppose I was scrumping though it certainly wasn't stealing. These quinces would have gone to waste had I not picked them. They used absolutely no resources in the growing process. No one watered, fertilised or cared for them in any way and...... they were free.
I picked just over two kilos of tiny quinces and am stewing some of them now. I imagine they will be just scrump-tious!

I know where all the wild trees are around our town. I've only found apples. This year one was burnt in a fire and the council radically trimmed another when they reduced the roadside bush. I won't be doing much scrumping this year so this quince windfall cheered me no end.

Do you have scrumping trees near you?


Lynda D said...

In a suburban street in West Footscray the street is lined with Olive Trees. The older residents are out there picking when they are in season. I feel like they belong to them so i dont pick them. I love watching them do it.

Evi said...

Oh yes, we have lots of apple trees around the back streets here and we've already been out for some scrumping! The apples are cooked and bottled and yes, very scrumptious!!!
While I choose not to feel guilty about buying shop bought food, I do feel super excited about using my own produce or free food from the roadside!
Enjoy those quinces….I'm just a tiny bit envious ;o)

Cheryl said...

I have not found free food in Lismore, I suspect it's because the roadsides are overgrown with so much lantana, nothing has a chance!

I've wondered for a long time why councils don't plant more food trees and hardy herbs. No imagination at all!

Jeanette said...

Lucky you. Envious. There is a bush lemon tree on the way to my Mums that i make sure i get to every year when the fruit is ripe. :)

Farmer Liz said...

Wonderful find! Our council recently cut down some lovely old trees in the main street (too close to power lines) and replaced them with ornamental pears! Ornamental! What a wasted opportunity!

city garden country garden said...

Well spotted!

I was driving in the country last weekend with a friend following behind me in her car when I realised she wasn't behind me any more. After waiting for a bit I turned around and found her back down the road under a huge apple tree with almost a full bag of gleaned apples, and I hadn't even noticed the tree when I drove past, but she's a champion at spotting fruit trees and other things to forage.

Suzie Simplelife said...

I have to admit I have never found any roadside freebies...I feel I have really missed absolute favourite spread is Quince Jelly..very hard to get...little old ladies have it sometimes at their jam stalls...I'm going to keep my eyes open from now on!!

Chris said...

I love those wild producing fruit trees. Puts a lot of gardening into perspective. Plants are hardy, they just have to find the right growing niche. Keen eyes you have there!

We used to have an old granny smith apple by the side of the road in our area. After the 2011 flood, council cleared all the roads to get rid of debris and silt that were dumped by floodwater. So poor old tree got bulldozer.

I was very sad to see that happen, but can understand what council was doing.

Linda said...

Lynda, I love that you get enjoyment watching them having fun! Maybe you could befriend one of them and help with the processing. They'd probably love teaching you.

Knew you'd be up on the local trees Evi! Good on you for not feeling guilty when you go to the shops. I twist myself in knots about it, which isn't good.

Haha! Who knows Cheryl? The trees may be hiding in the lantana. Take a peek. They could be your own secret trees!

Jeanette, Wow! I've not had a lemon source and I love lemons. I have a tree at home but it doesn't keep up with me.

I know Liz! Imagine if they valued food enough to make very tree a tree of value to the community!

CGCG, good on your friend! The spotting is a mindset I think. After one or two finds, you always look out subconsciously.

Suzie, I've never found quinces before. Apples and plums is all I've had so this find was a bit special!

It's sad to see a good tree go, isn't it Chris. And good point you make on the hardiness. I'm trying to be more observant on the plants that grow untended near here. We struggle so much with the garden in summer. I'm trying to find hardier species for our non-food garden. I think my veggie garden would do better if the rest of the garden offered more protection.

Anonymous said...

I could be very wrong but I think some apple trees are grafted onto quince rootstock as quinces are very hardy. It could then have grown from an apple core thrown out the car window.
I harvested my butt off this year of all the wild apples around town. I turned them into juice and have put up just under 40 litres of apple juice from them plus just over 5 litres of raw juice I tried to leave to ferment but it built up some terrible carbonation so we drank it unfermented and seriously fizzy and sweet. YUM!
I am in the process of sourcing a wine press or having a friend build me one and I know I can ride my bike to pick apples or drive for bulk collection in the future for a years supply of free juice for nothing! :D
There are also about 20 hawthorn trees for every apple tree, another ignored free food which a friend made use thereof. I figured I'd stick with the apples. :)

Linda said...

Hi Rabidlittlehippy, I wonder if you might be right. I must look into it I'm blown away by the amount of juice you got! Well done! I had a friend bring me some sauce that he made recently from hawthorn. I don't think we have many of those near us. I love that you have such abundance available!