Monday, June 7, 2010

Urban Foraging and Blackberry Crumble

We went blackberry picking last week.
Not out in the country, or on a u-pick farm, but right in the middle of the city. Orange County, suburban sprawl, next to 405 and John Wayne Airport.
It was great.
If you don't live in southern California, you might be thinking, "so what? I can walk out to my mailbox and pick berries any time I want to."
I know all about you, you Pacific Northwesters. You and your roadsides brimming with berries. Aaron and his family drove to Alaska when he was a little boy and one of his favorite memories is how they would stop in the morning to pick fresh berries from the side of the road and his mom would put them in their pancakes.
It sounds pretty nice. OK, it sounds stinking amazing!

But we don't have that here.
Or at least I didn't think we did. Turns out we do. You just have to look for it.
This is where we found these berries. It is a lovely place to pick, even with its close proximity to the city.
There are other places too. In fact, there is a whole movement of people who are interested in finding fruit that is otherwise not being eaten and taking full advantage of it.
It's called Urban Foraging, and you can read an article about it here.
I have always wondered about trees laden down with oranges that no one is picking. Apricots falling to the ground. Loquat trees full of fruit that no one seems to want.
What becomes of all that fruit?
I'll take it.
When we were kids we always did. Anywhere there was fruit that wasn't in someone's yard was fair game. There was a street in Fallbrook, the town I grew up in, lined with pomegranate trees. It was called Pomegranate Lane and people went there and picked them by the bagful. There was a giant loquat tree just up the hill from our house. Oh how my brother and I loved those ripe loquats. They're the ones with the big shiny seed in the middle. No one else seemed to eat them.
That is the idea behind urban foraging.
Rather than let the fruit go to waste (or to the birds and squirrels) pick it and make something like this:
There is a distinct pleasure in filling your bucket with berries you've picked yourself, adding a bit of sugar, oats and butter,
slipping it into the oven and enjoying it with a bit of ice cream.
Urban foraging? I'm all for it!
If you don't live near our blackberry spot, take a look at this site to see if there are any good fruit picking spots near you. You can even take a walk through your neighborhood and if you see fruit laying on the ground, offer to pick it in exchange for keeping some yourself. Urban foraging requires you to be a bit bold.
Or, if you can bear to share any place you know and love, do tell. I'll even keep it a secret if you want me to.
Happy picking!
Love from,

The Crumble
To my understanding, the difference between a crisp and a crumble is all in the use of flour or oats. A crumble uses oats. I think. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Our crumble could not have been easier. It took James and I about 3 minutes to make. Now that is my kind of dessert.

Spread berries in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar.
Choose size according to amount of berries you have. We didn't have a lot, so we used a small dish and had a single layer of berries.
In a bowl, combine 1 and a 1/2 cups of oats, half a stick of butter cut into small pieces, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon. (If you have more berries, make more oat topping)
I used my hands to blend the butter into the oats.
Crumble oat topping over berries.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until the berries are bubbling and the oatmeal topping is crisp and golden, but not getting too brown.
Top with ice cream and enjoy the fruit of your labor!


Heather @ Life Made Lovely said...

i think that is so cool! i'm going to have to look into if there are spots near us. and that little crumble looks divine! i think that would be fun to try to make with the kids. have a happy day!

valerie said...

I have to go and pick the berries...can I pick them any time? I clicked on the link but did not see anything about berries????? And I will look into the foraging too....yummy! I meant to also tellyou the homemade bages look divine as well....thanks for the it!

Anonymous said...

off topic--are those saltwater sandals she is wearing?