One of the great things about living in Oakland is that there’s a veritable orchard on most blocks. The story is that when Italian and Greek immigrants came to Oakland in the 1920′s, they all planted fruit trees in their yards. There must have been a lot of those Mediterranean types, because now almost every house has a fruit tree of some sort. I live in an apartment, which was probably once a large single-family craftsman, and in our small yard alone we have a lemon tree, orange and mandarine trees, an apple tree, a pear tree and a sickly fig. Some of my neighbors have pomegranates, avocados, grapefruit, plums and apricots. A lot of the trees go untended and unharvested, and so Oakland citizens have formed a number of urban foraging groups, which will harvest the trees and barter the fruit, or sometimes make jam or baked goods and share them with the community. Some of the fruit goes to homeless shelters and food banks as well. Really great ideas.
This weekend, though, I decided to harvest our apple tree myself, and baked a pie which I shared with our neighbor Martin. Most of the apples were small, and a few had worm holes, but dang they made a good pie! I sliced up about 7 cups of apples and mixed them with a cup of sugar, a little cinnamon and a sprinkling of flour. I used the crust recipe here and baked at 450º for an hour.