This year, I have felt especially inspired to use local ingredients and make use of the bounty of fresh produce that the Earth has provided. One thing that I never gave much thought to, was all of the local fruit that is available! When most people think of locally grown produce, they think corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and winter squash. Recently, I have gotten really into using local fruits in anything I can imagine! I knew that there were apple trees around here, but I never realized how many varieties there were. I also never thought much about crabapples until this year! They have been a pleasant surprise, since they used to be something I would ignore. One of the most surprising fruits I have come across thanks to a friend, are plums. I didn’t even know that they grew here until about a month ago.
I have known that there are apple trees in people’s yards since childhood. Every once in a while, my family would go to a friend’s house to pick apples so my grandmother could make applesauce and stewed apples. I enjoyed it, but it never really had an impact on me. This year was different. I had a friend reach out and let us pick from a few trees. I got so excited! I didn’t want to stop, and I didn’t want anything to go to waste. I would see all of the apples on the ground and I felt bad for them, so I tried to save as many as possible. It was kind of a strange sensation that overcame me as I picked these apples. I felt really connected to them through the experience of harvesting everything myself. I didn’t want to waste any of it! There are endless options when it comes to using apples in desserts, so I have been getting creative and trying to come up with some unique ideas.
Until a few months ago, I didn’t even know that crabapples were edible! I think that idea goes back to childhood. I used to want to eat them, and I remember people telling me that they didn’t taste good, so I held onto that until recently. I was just convinced that they were inedible. After some research and talking with others, I found out that they are in fact edible! There is a park near my house that had quite a few trees, so I decided to fill a bag. There were so many on the ground that I actually ended up picking up almost all of my apples from there. I ended up making applesauce, apple butter, and a fruit leather. They were surprisingly good, and the color was amazing! They have a very tart flavor, but it is really refreshing! I am totally hooked on them! I highly recommend using crabapples.
The big surprise this year were all of the plums! I had no idea that they could even grow here. I really don’t know much about where plants grow or how to grow plants. I had a friend share some plums, and I have been addicted to them! I haven’t made much because I still haven’t gotten past eating them by the dozen, but I have started cooking with them. I made a cake, and a large batch of plum sauce. They are great for sweet and savory food, which is why I love them so much!
Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with the local fruit selection that I have had this year. All I can say is, take advantage of it and enjoy all of the things that naturally grow in Wyoming!