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Fruitful Harvest: Making the most of a limited grocery budget


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Published on: Thursday, January 09, 2014

By B. Morrison, Special to The Sentinel

Our first winter on food stamps was difficult. I wanted to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for my children since we all know that they are the foundation of a healthy diet. However, they are expensive, may require preparation, and spoil if you don’t use them in time. At least I was lucky that the store I could walk to had a good selection. Stores in what have come to be known as “food deserts” often don’t carry fresh fruits and vegetables.

During the following summer I did everything I could to store up fruit for the coming winter. I picked wild blueberries, freezing some and making jam with the rest. I learned how to make jam—something I’d never tried before—from the basic cookbook my mother had given me. We went to a you-pick orchard and collected bags of apples which I made into applesauce and canned. I also dried apples by peeling and coring them; then slicing them into circles which I hung on a string across the kitchen. Use dried apples as you would raisins. You can often get seconds (slightly damaged apples) at farm stands or farmers’ markets for a reduced price, and they are just as good for applesauce.

Here is a simple treat using apples.

Fried Apples

3-4 apples, a firm type such as Granny Smith is best but any kind will do

1/4 c water

1 t cinnamon

Wash apples thoroughly. I leave the peel on for extra nutrition. Slice the apples thinly, discarding the core. Put in a non-stick frying pan with the water and cook over a medium-low flame until the apples soften, stirring and adding more water if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon. Enjoy as is or serve over vanilla ice cream. Leftovers are good in plain yogurt. Serves 4.

Here are some resources for picking your own fruit and vegetables. There is a map at http://www.orangepippin.com/orchards/united-states/maryland as well as descriptions of different varieties of apples. An orchard that doesn’t seem to be included there is Cherry Hill Farm, in Clinton: http://www.naturalmaryland.com/cherry_hill_farm.htm. Another map and listings may be found  at http://www.pickyourown.org/MD.htm along with directions for canning, freezing, making jam, etc. Most of these orchards have other fruits and vegetables too. Always call first for hours.

B. Morrison is the author of a memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother. For more information, visit http://www.bmorrison.com.

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