12 September 2008

Found food

"Found food." Doesn't sound very appetizing, does it? "Free food." That doesn't sound much better, and some would say there's no such thing.

I found a lot of apples on the ground a couple of days ago. We had had a windy rain squall go over the evening before. These are the red apples from a tree that has never before produced quite as many apples as it has this year.

Since the apples had just fallen a few hours before, I went out and picked up the best of them. Many had slugs on them, or had been partially eaten by squirrels, I guess. I rejected those. But enough apples were in perfect condition for me to do something with them.

I made jelly. I had three kilograms of apples, and that made me more than three liters of jelly. Walt will use a lot of it to glaze the tarts he makes.

Gelée de pommes

Then yesterday afternoon, just after finishing the process of getting the apple jelly sealed up in sterilized jars, I took Callie out for a walk and found some more food. We were walking down a row through the parcel of vines on the north side of the house. I noticed that those vines were freshly groomed. The grooming is done by machine.

Grapes I've found, lying on the ground.
I've become a scavenger.

And there on the ground was a beautiful bunch of dark purple grapes, in perfect condition. Just lying there. I scooped them up. And then I found several more bunches, so I scooped those up too. Pretty soon I had a big double-handful, balanced precariously. I couldn't carry any more.

Luckily we were close to the house and and the end of our walk, especially since it was starting to rain. I was able to get the back gate open, using my wrists and elbows, without dropping the grapes on the ground. Same with the back door, as it started to rain harder. Callie was right behind me.

Wine grapes and a cut lime in the jelly pot

Now I'm making grape jelly. I wish I knew what varietal these grapes are. Gamay? Cabernet Franc? Côt? Pinot Noir? Gelée de Cabernet Franc sounds more exotic than plain old grape jelly.

On that same walk, I also found some ripe peaches on the ground in our neighbors' yard. The neighbors have gone back to Blois for the winter, and they've told me before to pick or pick up any fruit I find over there. We ate the peaches raw. Delicious. That was after having fresh figs for dessert after lunch. We "found" the figs at the supermarket.


  1. Ken, you're turning into a vergetarian.
    Supposedly, grapes are bad for dogs, but my dogs always ate them. Does Callie like grapes?

  2. Hi SW,

    I am a vegetarian. But I eat meat too. And cheese. I won't let Callie eat grapes or raisins, because I've heard they are bad for dogs. However, we used to give our dearly departed dog, Collette, raisins. Only once in a while. They never seemed to bother her.

  3. I like to scavenge also, but am not as lucky as you. Your neighborhood has lots of opportunities with so many fruit trees. I bet your jellies are going to be good. My mom made grape jelly, but it seemed like a lot of work to me. I remember that jelly making made for some sweet smells in the kitchen.

  4. Thanks to your own efforts, you eat very well, Ken!

    And found food certainly helps with the food budget.


  5. windfalls???

    your grape jelly looks fantastic.

    somebody was talking about becoming a vegetarian, but for the fact they thought they really couldn't give up bacon.

    their partner replied: you can be a vegetarian and eat bacon.

    that sounds about right to me.

  6. No, no – vergetarian lol. Perhaps it doesn't translate to an American. The verge is the side of the road or the edge of the forest. It's a term (I think Simon coined) to describe wild food foragers.

  7. Thanks, PJ and Evelyn and BettyAnn,

    Yes, scavenging in the right environment is just fine. I've always done it — in Washington DC and San Francisco, when it came to taking small cuttings of neighbors' plants to put in my garden. Now I do it for grapes. But do not think that I pick them off the vines. I don't.

    En français : si vous êtes viticulteur dans la région de Saint-Aignan, ne pensez pas que je vous pique des grappes de raisins. Je ne prends que celles que je trouve par terre. Je ne me permettrais pas de vous voler des grappes qui sont destinées à faire du vin. J'aime trop le vin pour faire une telle bêtise.

    PJ, I believe in vegetarianism; I just find it a little too restrictive.

    Evelyn, yes, cooking the grape jelly really does make the kitchen smell nice.

    BettyAnn, il n'y a pas de petites économies. Every little bit helps. Isn't that what we say? The euro is going down against the dollar — youpi !

  8. SusanW, I just saw, as you told me on the phone, that you called me a "veRgetarian", not a "vegetarian". A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.

    And yes, what I can find on the "verge" or in the ditch is mine! Or down the rows of vines. I made another batch of "found gamay" jelly today. Ken

  9. Ken, I'm with you on the found food. I picked 10 pounds of blackberries and made jam....then I pick apples from a tree growing in a field (where we walk out newly rescued border collie) and made apple butter.

    Victoria, Bellingham, WA (formerly Molly the border collies Mom)....now Casey McLaren's Mom

  10. We do draw the line at roadkill. For now.

  11. I need to start walking around my village more! but until my cuisiniere is hooked-up (next week, FINALLY, viewing the vast assortment of legumes has been more of a torment than anything ...)

    I also think I will try my hand at preserving, but not until next year once my kitchen (and house) is more functional..

  12. The main vergetarian fodder around us is walnuts.
    I'm not brave enough to eat roadkill either yet Walt.

  13. In French we say: "Ce qui tombe dans le fossé est pour le soldat."


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