So, I went and picked up the produce last weekend for the freecycle folks. It turned out to be a bit different than I expected, but it really worked out for the best.
I got to the location at the time that I was told to, but the stand had thrown out all the stuff that would typically be picked up. They knew the regular folks were not coming, but hadn't heard that I was. I was so bummed as I had driven for a ways and had cleared my schedule for the next day to process whatever I could. They even checked to see if they could salvage what had been tossed, but it was all over in a dumpster and I wasn't about to try and rescue it. I do have some limits in my selective squeamishness!
The woman was so apologetic and really, she had done nothing wrong. She gave me her cell number and asked that I call if I ever do pick up again. Then she started looking around. They had a box of plums, a box of broccoli, and a box of eggplants that they were trying to sell for $1 each and she told one of the guys to load it in my van. Than she brought over 7 pints of blueberries. Then another guy brought over a big bag of oranges. Seriously it was like produce was being thrown at me!
So, I looked around their stand and decided I'd buy a few things as well. They are definitely in the market of moving lots of produce for not too bad of prices. They had stuff that is more iffy marked down even more and from there it must go to the $1/box stuff and then eventually if it hasn't sold it ends up with our freecycle folks. I picked out a few sweet potatoes and bunch of cilantro to get and was contemplating more when she told one of the helpers to just let me have them. It would only have been a $1-2, but I was so touched that she would do that! I couldn't ask for more things as I didn't want to appear greedy and I went home and enjoyed those sweet potatoes with my boys!
When I got home I looked everything over and was THRILLED to learn that the blueberries were organic. The ironic thing was I stopped to buy non-organic blueberries that same day, but the store I stopped at was out of them. Talk about having things provided! There were a few bad ones, but really they were in amazing shape. We ate about a pint, froze a couple pints and then used the rest to make jam and syrup.
I went through the plums and they were not in that great of shape so they were the idea behind the jam. I made one batch of plum-blueberry jam and one batch of plum-blueberry-orange syrup (AKA jam that didn't jell!). These are awesome tasting and I was excited to do some more canning. In fact, I used up every pint and half-pint jar I had from my mom. Thank goodness I got to get more from her this weekend!
It only took 1 orange to make the syrup and one was rotten. The other 6 are being eaten and are very yummy! The eggplants ended up in the compost. They were going too fast and I left them till last since they are our least favorite of the items we got. If they had been used that night I could have saved some, but really they were so spotty and soft that I just decided to let the compost bin have some goodies too.
The broccoli was a project. It was not the best looking broccoli I've ever seen, but I'm sure it has been around longer than I would like to think. The crowns that were in decent shape I blanched and froze. I ended up with A LOT of bags for us to eat. I also took the stems and cut out the softer core. Those pieces I froze as well as I'll use them (with the crowns) to make some really wonderful broccoli cheese soup this winter.
The load ended up being smaller than anticipated, but the produce was in decent shape and it was an amount I was able to handle. I am so grateful for this produce and for my ability to use it to feed my family so well!