Put the word out to family and friendsI thought this was interesting so I put the word out to my family and friends that I would take free produce if someone didn't want it. It was about 2008 and my sister said she saw an ad in our local paper about free apples if we wanted to come pick them.
I called some like-minded friends and we took all our kiddos over there and picked those free apples.
The next year we went back to the same guy only the apples weren't as good. We did manage to get some though.
Knock on the doorThe year after that I kept passing this house that had two huge pear trees. I stopped and knocked on the door but no one answered. I saw a car for sale parked in the yard and so I called the number. I told the man that I didn't want to buy his car but wondered if I could pick their pears. It turned out that they weren't his pears but his friends and he asked them and told me I could! So my friend and I went there and picked as many pears as we could and I made pear sauce, canned some and made pear jam - my favorite and my sister's too.
Ask for "Seconds"Then in 2011 I just went to the orchard and picked out the "seconds" from the big bins. It was ever so much easier and at $17 a bushel it was a pretty good price.
Look for "Free Apple Signs"Last year I got a call from some friends. They passed this house from church that had several apple trees on it and there was a sign in the yard that said "Free Apples" so of course we jumped on that and picked a ton of apples. I wasn't able to process them though since I had just had a baby and we had just moved twice.
Ask your friends if they have an apple treeMy friend has an apple tree in her backyard and her neighbor has two trees so we picked those and then we processed them into applesauce and apple butter.
If there is a sign in the yard, call the numberI also called a house that is for sale down the street. It is for sale by owner and I know no one lives there. I told the man that answered that I did not want to buy his house but wondered if I could pick the apples in the backyard. He told me I could.
So I got some extra help from my friend's girls who had never picked apples before. You can tell by their choice of clothes and footwear. But they worked hard and seemed to have fun. We picked one day and processed the next.
Don't judge an apple by the outside. These were almost perfect inside. There were hardly any yecky ones. I trust dirty apples more than I trust grocery store apples. Also don't be afraid of worms. I don't see them very much. I also run my apples in my dishwasher - with no soap - so they are dead by the time I cut the apple open anyway.
The girls cut the apples in no time flat. They all wanted to do it. We used safe knives for the little kids.
I tried to pressure cook some but it seemed to take longer by the time it heated up and then cooled down.
The girls liked to put the apples through the mill.
I kept the applesauce hot in my friend's roaster until I could can it all. Some of the apples were more red and so some of it was red and some of it wasn't. I just mixed it all.
And now we have roughly 45 pints of applesauce for free, peeps, without any high fructose corn syrup or anything for that matter except I did put some cinnamon in a batch.
Also, don't throw away your peels! Save them and make Candy Apple Jelly with them or just make regular jelly.
Gleaning apples is really worth it. All you can do is ask. The worst that can happen is that they chase you off their property with a broom. Not really, I find most people are nice and don't really want their apples to go to waste. Just take someone with you if you are going to a house you don't know or if there is a sign in the yard call the number. You can look on Craigslist or in your local paper too for people giving them away.
Or if you are too nervous to do that go to your local orchard and ask for seconds. Many orchards have them.
Have you ever gleaned anything before? I'd love to hear your story.