Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Joys of Foraging

It never ceases to amaze me that even in the cold, rainy midst of winter, nature is capable of providing nourishment. As I walked through my parent’s back yard this weekend, I noticed an unusual-looking fruit lying on the ground under what I had always mistaken for an ornamental bush. After some taste testing and research, I discovered that the fruits are called Feijoa, or Pineapple Guavas (pictured above), and are native to South America. Inside, the soft pulp is citrusy, both tart and sweet and fun to squeeze out, while the protective tough green skin may be discarded.

The very next day, a friend from church learned of my love for persimmons and offered to let me and my husband come and glean the fruit from their persimmon tree, as her family doesn’t care for this fruit. I jumped at this opportunity, and this is how my refrigerator came to be overcrowded with four bulging bags of fruit.

Three of the bags contain the bright orange orbs of Fuyu persimmons. The trouble is, Fuyus are generally eaten raw, unlike Hachiyas where the pulp is often pureed and used in baked goods. I’ve had quite a time figuring out how to preserve the fruit to keep it from going to waste.

I finally decided upon a double batch of both persimmon jam and persimmon chutney (one version, pictured above). So far, the jam came out fairly well, although I probably didn’t add enough sugar. Jam recipes are notoriously scientific and unforgiving of aberration. I like things a little on the mild side anyway, and will still consider my jam something to look forward to on toast. Tonight, I will take a stab at my first ever chutney - a recipe I found posted by a New Zealand blogger chronicling her grandmother’s vintage recipes. It sounded fascinating - whoever first imagined that raisins, onions, garlic, ginger, and fruit would go together?

As tiring as it may be, I love that gleaning and preserving food allows me to feel a connection to nature, as well as to my ancestors, who performed these acts by way of necessity. Today, I choose to do these same acts because it gives me a peaceful feeling to participate in such a timeless act universal to all humanity. Bounty surrounds us if we seek it out.


  1. If you want canning jars, Cecil was looking for a home for a bunch. FYI.

  2. Ooh! Come summer, I may want those. That's actually tender because Arlene was the one who taught me how to can two summers ago.


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