If you follow the FBC Facebook page you might have seen some “urban foraging” I did this week. While some may argue about ethics, I have no qualms about gently picking fruit trees at abandoned/foreclosed homes. The key is pick gently, tread lightly, don’t harm the tree (no tugging, cutting, climbing and so forth), and if there are no trespassing signs on the fence or yard, don’t even think about it). Don’t be a pig of course, leave some for the birds. But frankly, urban fruit trees are an actual issue. They are planted and go feral, doing what nature intended but with no one picking. That leads to pests showing up. Rats, mice, raccoons and so on. Even houses that are well-loved and lived in, have trees that have so much waste. Do you see trees dropping fruit like crazy, rotting on the ground? Ask the owner if you could pick some from the tree – present it as a bonus to them – the less that falls from the trees, the less blight on the lawn…..
There is a lot of free produce out there – that wants to be loved! As always though try to not pick near busy roads or if you know pesticides were used. If you are going for produce you want as clean as you can get it. Accidental organic if you will…..
I found an apple tree that had been mostly picked over by my neighbors but they didn’t pick low. A 2-year-old on the other hand makes a great picker. He plucked all the low hanging red apples for me.
In an urban setting a stroller shell makes a great hauling device I might add…..
Especially if your toddler is good at sorting. Walker is an amazing helper. If Ford was my hiking partner, Walker is my picking partner. Kid loves every berry, fruit and vegetable out there. And he listens – “Pears here, apples in that box”. And he did…..
Once sorted we washed and dried the apples. Then we squeezed a large lemon, strained the seeds and added it to a large mixing bowl, adding a couple of cups of water. Peel the apples one at a time, coring. Then slice into thick pieces, tossing into the lemon water as you work. Once done I drained the water off, shaking the apples off. Then I added about 3 Tablespoons golden syrup, which is a British sugar syrup. Granulated sugar would also work fine. Add in a teaspoon of cinnamon, gently stir to combine, let sit for a couple of minutes to marinate.
Line your dehydrator trays with mesh inserts if you have them. Either drain the apples or scoop with fingers and let drain before placing on the trays. Make sure none of the pieces are touching or on top each other. Dry at 135° till they break – they will still be soft though, not brittle. How many hours? It depends on thickness, apple variety and humidity. Mine took all day.
Store in an airtight container. Due to the sugar content, check often and use up sooner than bare apples.
On the lemon water – do use it. Apples darken quickly, this quick bath will stop nearly all of it.
Need more dehydrating advice? Check out Dehydrating 101 on TrailCooking.