A key delight of making your own conserves is that the fruit can often be sourced for free. I’m constantly finding new sources of free ingredients, so here’s a list of some of the best ways to get your fruit for free…
- Check the garden , not just for the obvious sources such as apple trees, but also for blackberries, sloes and other native plants in hedges and overgrown areas;
- Ask the neighbours. Many are more than happy to see their surplus fruit being used, and will gladly give it to you for free, or in return for a jar of jam;
- Fruit growing on public land is often free to collect, though check your local laws if you are unsure. In the UK, the Wildlife and Countryside Act makes it clear that anyone can collect the flowers, fruit and foliage from ‘wild trees’, so long as it isn’t for commercial gain. All those apple trees that have grown up along roads and in woodland where passersby discarded their old apple cores… their fruit is there for the taking;
- Check Internet sites, such as your local FreeCycle, for people giving it away. It happens more often than you might think;
- Supermarkets. Rarely entirely free, but many will sell you fruit that is about to be passed its best at incredibly low prices. Pick out the rotten ones and use the rest.