Thursday, July 23, 2009
Be nice to your neighbors = grapes
My neighbor is growing grapes right in Baltimore City! She lives about a block away from me, and these lovely things have been growing right up her fence in her tiny rowhouse backyard. I always admire them since I actually don't think I've ever seen fruiting grapevines before. And also they are directly across from my friend Stephanie's backyard where they are growing yellow cherry tomatoes. Mmmm!
Anyway, I parked my car right next to the grapes today and the lady was actually outside. So I stopped by to tell her how beautiful they are and how cool it is that she is growing grapes, and she plucked a whole bunch off to give them to me! She even said I could take leaves off whenever I want if I want to make dolmades or something. She said I could take grapes too but I'm not going to take all of her fruit. I'll probably bring her some Baltimore lavender, so maybe if there is a special occasion I'll grab another bunch.
These things were amazing. Seriously, the more I eat fruit/vegetables directly from the plant, the more I realize how different they taste from something that has been sitting in a refrigerated truck for days. I guess it's kind of like how when you pluck a flower, it's always so much prettier when it's on the plant than when it's been in a vase for a while.
The grapes were a lot smaller than "regular" green grapes- I actually thought they were going to be underripe. But the skin was tart and sweet, the flesh was seedless and exploded with sweetness. Very firm and fruity. I immediately ran around trying to find anyone I knew to share them with, since it's so much more fun sharing the experience with someone. I gave some to my neighbor and even ran into the liquor store on the corner to share them with some of the other neighborhood people I see on a weekly basis (yay Baltimore!). As always it was a pleasure to see them bite into the fruit somewhat suspiciously, and then to see the look of surprise as they realize how delicious the food is!
I also finally decided to harvest the black walnuts that are growing from this gigantic tree right next to my building. It's so weird because the nuts always fall into the parking lot and turn all black and mushy and seem like just some weird pest. No one ever thinks to open up those green fruits to get the nuts inside! Admittedly, it's a ridiculous amount of work to get to the walnuts and finally cure them, but you know me, I love a good project.
My fingers are definitely dyed yellowish-brown now (if anyone is looking for all natural dyes, please contact me!). I also got a ton of weird looks from people walking by. What, they've never seen someone banging open a hard green fruit with a wrench before?!
After about an hour of work I did the "float test" to see which nuts were good or not. The bad ones float, the good ones sink. I've heard mixed things about why this is; I'm not sure if it has to do with the fact that the nut goes bad if it stays inside the fruit for too long after it falls off the tree, or if there are bugs in it. Or if there isn't enough nutmeat?
In any case, 11 nuts floated, 5 nuts sank. Geez, like the essential oil, I am finding out how much work it takes to make certain products! Although I guess opening walnuts with actual machines is much easier than banging on them repeatedly with your brother's wrench..
In any case I plan on continually collecting these suckers whenever I feel like it. I believe they tree will be fruiting for the next month or even into early fall, so maybe in three months I'll have enough for a bag of trail mix!
Wow, never thought I would be collecting so much Hampden-grown produce!
Posted by AlizaEss