Monday, March 18, 2013

Spread the Bounty

Hello foodies,

The final haul from one of our trips. And this was just half of it! We ran out of buckets and had to empty the fruit into a trunk of a van to be hauled out. Orange, blood orange, grapefruit, kumquats, tangerines, lemons, Meyer lemons, pomelos.
Nope, this was not a pick your own farm loot :) The last few weeks I've been spending my Saturday mornings volunteering for a wonderful organization called Harvest Crops. They work to bridge the gap between the haves and have not's of fresh fruit. Its a great cause and I am glad I am able to contribute.  Its a win-win situation for everyone involved and that's the beauty of it. Every resident we have helped is happy to have us there and welcome us into their homes and backyards. They are happy to see their fruit picked at its peak and taken to those who need it most. It just amazes me each time to see how many buckets we fill up from one tree. Even the barest of trees yields no less that 4-5 buckets of fruit. The best part of it all though is the last bit of delivering the fruit to those who need it. It leaves me with a smile that lasts through the whole week. This past week we picked just three trees but ended up with 20-25 buckets of fruit that would serve many many families. As a volunteer I am just having fun. I get to explore the city, meet new people and also sample some fabulous organic fruit. So to leave with so much more than what you put in is gratifying.
Meyer lemon blossom                                                                                                              Orange blossoms
California is known for its citrus harvest. The markets are usually stocked with multiple varieties of citruses all through the year, even the winter months, or should I say specially the winter months. Right now the farm stands are bursting with blood oranges, grape fruit and many lemon varieties  - meyer, eureka, sweet lemons and a few more names that I don't recollect right now. Drive out a few miles from the city and you are bound to come across orange orchards lining the road. But right here within the city almost every house that has even a few feet of open yard has a citrus tree or two that is bursting with fruit.
They all start green                                                                                        Orange bunches everywhere

Overloaded with Meyer Lemons!
The famous California Meyer lemons have a floral aroma and are sweeter than regular lemons. I've made lemonade, salad dressings, muffins, cupcakes and currently have a batch of preserved lemons curing in the refrigerator. The lemons from this tree are probably the juiciest and sweetest I've had till date. The tree was brimming with fruit but did not want to let go of them either. The fruit were nestled among the inner branches that had huge thorns! I was lucky we had gloves but that did not help us for long. We eventually just started jerking the branches to loosen the fruit and luckily for us it worked out.We got close to 10-12 buckets of fruit from this one.

Grape fruits!
This grapefruit tree was in a mini orchard that a resident had. From the outside the tree looked like it did not have much fruit. But once we took a peek behind the outer leaves, this is what we find! We got close to 6-7 buckets of fruit from this one alone. They were huge and juicy. But this was the day I also realized I have a very low tolerance to grapefruit. Its way too acidic for my throat, just a few drops and I was left with a soreness that lasted a whole day.

Ponderosa lemon blossom                                                                                  Ponderosa lemon
The shocker from last week was discovering Ponderosa lemons. Looking at how big the fruit looks in the photograph you might think the photo angle is odd. But nope, these lemons are enormous! The fruit were easily 7-8" in diameter. I initially mistook them to be grapefruit until the kind lady who lived there told us about these special lemons.
That's a blood orange for comparison alongside one of the smaller lemons on the tree. And if that's not big enough these lemons are still just half their size at this point! The wiki link tells that they taste exactly like lemons just a looooot bigger. More about blood oranges in the next post :)

Peach blossoms!
These flowers in pretty pink are peach blossoms I was told! Looks like we might go back to this place in a few months for another harvest :) Take a few minutes to see if such an organization exists in your neighborhood and I can promise you'll have a wonderful time.

8 thoughts:

Shama Nagarajan said...
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indosungod said...

What fun Priya. I wish I could tag along. Those huge lemons would be great for making lemonade I bet ;)

Pavani said...

Wow.. what a fun volunteering job. 20025 buckets of fruit, now that's a loooooot of fruuuuuuit. Meyer lemons look absolutely stunning. LOVE them for their fruity tart flavor.

Priya said...

Indo, hahah, yes. lots of lemonade, specially with a tree full of those ginormous fruit. It's been a really fun experience for me so far.

Pavani, sorry! it was a typo :( I meant to say 20-25 buckets was close to half the yield for the day. But it was still a loooot of fruit. I have just begun liking meyer lemons and have run out of ways to use up my current stash :)

Unknown said...

Such a fun way to volunteer.

Anita said...

Looking at all that beautiful, gorgeous fresh fruit makes me so envious! You are putting it to good use! Happy volunteering!

Anonymous said...

gorgeous is an understatement!

Nabeela said...

I had read about this organization at Tara's. I'm so glad its still running strong :-). Thanks for volunteering!

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