Sunday, May 5, 2013

Glean, gleaner and gleaning

Midgimberries and cherry guava
'Gleaner, Gleaner,' the skinny barefoot boys would call as they dodged the cars at the traffic lights. Another world, another time and they weren't shouting at Ms Tagalong for celebrating the joys of gleaning produce but selling The Gleaner the daily Jamaican newspaper. So what's the difference, gleaning bits of news or bits of fruit and produce?

So who goes gleaning? And what does it really mean? The Oxford dictionary states that the historical meaning is to gather (leftover grain) after a harvest:(as noun gleaning)the conditions of farm workers in the 1890s made gleaning essential. Ms Tagalong feels that the conditions of people in the 21st century may make it a necessity again.

So much food, so much wastage. Where do we start? Look around your neighbourhood. There's a macadamia tree dropping its little packages of protein right under your feet. There's a citrus tree and over there a mulberry tree. And is that an olive tree littering the street with olives ready for curing?

Up the mid-North coast there was bush tucker everywhere, midgimberries, cherry guavas, native grapes to name a few that Ms Tagalong spotted, popped into a bag and sampled later. Speckled midgimberries with their slightly aniseed taste were great fresh on her bowl of muesli. Cherry guavas, halved and scooped out with a spoon were a great morning snack.

Davidson plums with their smoky bloom don't taste so good straight off the tree but try stewing them with brown sugar for a wonderful tart taste. Perhaps even use Kylie Kwong's recipe and serve them with duck (not locally caught on Throsby Creek!) 

So Ms Tagalong thinks perhaps we need a tree register of our neighbourhood, a plan of fruit and nuts which usually go begging, mouldering or smashing. Supplement the lovely fresh herbs and plants you get from your community garden with some of these little wonders! 
Salad courtesy of Northbank Community Garden

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