Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

I’m feeling crabby. Three weeks of broken sleep, my mind never resting, skimming along in jumbled R.E.M., after 11 months of…well…almost the same. Except for those first two months where we thought we had won the baby lottery, with a newborn we had to wake every 4 hours to make sure she was eating enough. Now all I have to do is think loud thoughts, and she’s squirming and screaming. Maybe it’s because of silent reflux. Maybe I drink too much coffee. But who am I kidding…without coffee you would find me face down on the sidewalk, Fern tied to my back and playing horsey, with Leo dragging both of us down the sidewalk so he can spend 10 minutes sniffing at some ancient drop of pee. Too much caffeine is not the problem here…not having it in a drip I.V. is the problem.

So it is foraging friday, and I have the perfect goody to feature.

this week:

Malus means "the apples". M. domestica refers to our common table and orchard apples. All others are referred to as wild apples or "crab apples".

There are two little trees in Koshland park, that have heavenly pink blossoms each spring. Now that it is almost fall, I noticed that they had the little red fruit, shown above. I tasted one, and along with their terrible astringency I noticed something else. A crunch that seemed familiar. I really had no idea, never having truly seen one before, but up from the depths of intuition rose the thought, “Crabapples”.

I told my friend America (hi!) that I thought that is what I had found and she gave me a helpful tip,

“If you cut it along it’s equator, the seeds should make a little star. That’s how you know it’s a crabapple.”

The first couple of times I tried cutting one, I was using a dull serated knife, and no star appeared. I decided to pick them anyway, and, being in a crabby mood, thought I might as well make poisonous jelly because no one reads this blog anyway. But won’t you all be sorry when I’m gone! (grumblegrumblerackingfrackin…)

But when I got home I used a proper sharp knife and behold:

Twinkle, twinkle. Sorry for the slight out-of-focus quality. I think something is wrong with my camera. Or maybe it's your eyes.

So I chopped them up, covered them with water and boiled those little jerks for 15 minutes. After that they were quite soft, so I squished and strained them through fine mesh, and then I had…

beautiful crimson liquid

I added sugar to taste and simmered it for about 15 minutes more…

A cross between a sauce and a jelly. If I wanted to spend more time, I would boil it down more until it jelled more stiffly. This was a trial run...if it was terrible I didn't want to spend a lot of energy.

And it is delicious. It has a tart aftertaste similar to cranberry sauce, and actually I think crabapple jelly would go well with the same sort of things that cranberry does. This little bowl will be determining our dinner tonight.

Fern was screaming her “I know you just made something tasty and I want sooooooome” scream, so I let her try it.

Hey not so bad! More please!

I was also given a giant bag of cucumbers this week, and I tried my first hand at…


The jar on the right is before the 15 minute boiling water bath…they look so pretty before they become that…pickley…color. I made several varieties, all with dill (fresh and seed), and some other additions such as jalapeno, garlic, lemon, basil, chili pepper, bay, cumin, mustard seed. I also made some dilly beans. The brine solution I used was as such:

2 quarts water
2 cups distilled vinegar (5% acidity is necessary)
3 Tb course sea salt

After sterilizing the jars for 15 minutes in boiling water, I packed in the ingredients. I then filled them with brine all the way to the top, leaving 1/4 inch before the brim. Put the lids on, and stuck them back in the water for another fifteen.

Now we have to wait 2 weeks to try them out.

(Are you ready yet? How about now? Now?)

Have a good weekend. Maybe we’ll see you at Power to the Peaceful?

(Fern wants Michael Franti to be her boyfriend. I used to blast This Song during her last month in utero…above all others it is still her favorite and she blisses out when I put it on)



12 thoughts on “Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

  1. Seems you and Chris have the same issue, no IV Drip coffee! πŸ˜‰ So…um…when’s Fern’s new dance video coming out? πŸ˜‰ I discovered a sweet all female Finnish band called Indica earlier this week. Check them out on YouTube and see if you like them. They’re a mixed of Goth, Rock, Classical, and Pop music.

  2. i have a tree near by that grows those little jerks. i’ve never known how to use them. now i am intrigued. especially after just having to throw the entire contents of my fridge and freeezer out. but hey, we still have a house, so i am not complaining really.. just saying.
    you are lucky to be able to tolerate coffee like that. i miss it so much sometimes.

    i like your pickle jars with the tall towers. cuties. cuite cukies.

    1. heather, i am sososoo glad to hear from you and to know that you and your home and family are ok! i’ve been thinking of everyone in your area a lot.

      you know, i didn’t used to be able to tolerate caffeine at all, but the last few years in grad school and now the constant sleep deprivation have caused a total addiction. but i never used to drink it, and i’d like to get back there someday.

  3. Hey Mary,

    I too love those little *malus* jerks and they make wonderful pickles. Pick, wash, leave whole with stems. Make pickling liquid with brown sugar, cider vinegar, and whole spices like cinnamon bark, allspice berries, cloves. You can even use a little wine. I usually do it by eye – so don’t have exact amounts…but i boil well, then submerge clean crabapples in warm liquid, place in large glass jars in fridge, let sit a month or so.

    They are very tasty on their own as a sweet-sour treat and really wonderful as a garnish for hearty dishes.

    Of course, if there are enough, there is always crabapple butter! There’s a street tree close to me loaded with them, I am looking at wistfully, but I have too many classes right now to do the labor it would take to glean it.

    1. jackie, thank you so much for the recipe! i have to admit i’m a little scared to try making crabapple pickles. i recently made those cuke pickles, and we opened them last weekend. as i ate one, i thought, “you know…even though these are mine, i still don’t really like pickles!”

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