Whether you live in the north or the south, in urban areas or in the country, an abundance of fruit becomes available beginning in the late spring and there is no better time of year to take advantage of your local harvest.
While the seasonal bounty of fruits found at farmer’s markets or from trees and bushes throughout your area may overwhelm even the biggest eaters, preserving techniques like jam-making, pickling, and canning can help you carry their flavors through the rest of the year. You can prevent food waste and end up with fresh-canned peaches or ruby red raspberry jam to enjoy during the depths of winter.
Finding a source for fruits can be easier than you think. As Adam Leith Gollner explains in his book and accompanying documentary, The Fruit Hunters, all it takes is one sour cherry (or mango or mangosteen) tree in you neighborhood to furnish a season’s worth of jam (or at least a couple of pies). On a larger scale, urban foraging organizations like Food Forward or the London Orchard Project help locals find and plant fruit trees, as well as pick and distribute unclaimed fruit from public areas or wholesalers to nonprofit agencies serving those in the community that are considered food-insecure or hungry. (These organizations are always looking for volunteers.)
You can also help create a sustainable food system in your community by learning how to preserve fruit. Besides the trees or bushes that may be in your area, most farmer’s markets have the freshest variety of seasonal fruits—and vendors often have not-so-pretty or bruised and nearly over-ripe fruits that they will sell to you for a reduced price, and in bulk. These finds make for perfect jam.