DUMPSTER DIVING 101
If you’ve ever found a hubby or sweetheart in a bar, why the heck shouldn’t you get perfectly fine fruit out of a dumpster?? (It’s the same as the sweet, hinky, cheap men who hang in bars. They've always got a few bruised spots but my ole granny used to say ‘the sweetest fruit has a rotten spot. Actually, she meant it about MEN. But I’ve found it’s actually true about food too!
So now that we've copped to the fact that we’ve all found beaux in bars and admitted that they were useful or fun or both for a while let's open ourselves to the concept that we can find many wonderful things in dumpsters. The best trash in L.A. was behind the 99c Store: Waste paper baskets, brooms, children’s toys, fake flowers! Stuffed animals. (I put a teddy bear through the washing machine, dried it in the sun and gave it to a litter of kittens!) And endless food! Just before they bought lockable dumpsters, I found FIVE net bags of tangelos, 50 costly fruits, each bag had one that had become a little soft but as they were in bags, the store had just tossed the others along with the one bad one. I planted the bad ones as the seeds were ready to sprout, (you never let citrus seed dry out. You plant it damp!) And I immediately juiced up the rest, filling a JUICY JUICE 64 oz plastic container with something even the Beverly Hills Hotel doesn’t serve, as their juice is mere oranges at l0$ a glass. The Tangelo beats all. And it was a quart of tangarine JUICE, like 15$ at WHOLE FOODS!
A woman named Elizabeth Gibson found a similar treasure, a million dollar painting appeared in her NYC dumpster. THE DUMPSTER PAINTING! Read up on it, the thing is famous! I get great antique paintings at garage sales but not in dumpsters. Not yet, but I’m always hoping! What I get most regularly out of the 99c store Treasure box is superb food. And not a bit dirty. Not even dirt cheap--- Free. Reason it’s fresh and succulent is that it comes in plastic packages, cello wrapped and also, I go daily, as soon as the produce man puts it out there, I’m on it! Try twenty pounds of bananas for BANANA BREAD. (Walnuts are costly but NOW you can afford them!) Try a bag of grapefruit. Get it home, wash it off, dry it. Maybe a spot on an edge somewhere; that comes off. The rest gets juiced immediately, put in the JUICY JUICE plastic 64 oz jug. I maybe put half grape juice in there because that mix is a total WOW!
Oprah did a segment on dumpster divers: Try to google up links to the episode... TRASH TOUR and one called "HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?" Here's a good VIDEO on DUMPSTER DIVING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e6WszohuFU
Third Coast audio (in the business of promoting great audio-art and radio documentaries) recently featured a documentary that we think you might like. It's about this guy, name Darren, who's a career dumpster diver in Toronto. http://www.wired.com/1997/09/es-dumpster/
Frugal inspiration for a weekend might be to visit TRADER JOES' DUMPSTERS. Everything is wrapped still iced, cold. The berries can be 5% rotten as we PLANT THEM! But 95% are fine. Float them in water to tell what’s good. Big markets now lock their dumpsters, but if you wait for the produce man to exit, maybe you can tip him for access. If not, just get in his face grabbing, saying ‘I have four kids who haven’t eaten in twenty four hours, please! ANYTHING.” Better a white lie that hurts no one than a black one that hurts millions.. like Afghanis did 911 so 3 weeks later, OCT 7 2001, we have to Invade AFGHANISTAN and kill a million people….alleging OSAMA is there, another lie.
The trick with DUMPSTER DIVING FOR FOOD is, only take bagged stuff, or in cello-packs, or mostly they throw it away in a huge plastic bag which I slit to peek. I take nothing touching walls of dumpster and be cautious that you take nothing that flies could get to. (The only exception would be rotten berries as you don’t eat them. You plant them. Yes, I squish the berries a little with my hands in water, and plant the slush itself in flats, then later, I trade baby berry plants for bags of potting soil. I put my BARTER ad at Craigs list. "GET PLANTS GIVE ME SUPER SOIL".. I get gifted huge bags of potting soil, which would cost me 8$ each, for a few babies sitting out on my sun/shade ping pong table nursery. I’ve been offered trucks full of mulch, too.
When I see dozens of plastic wrapped boxes of sweet peppers, red/ yellow, orange and green, and Puebla peppers, Anaheims, etc, I wash, dry, slice and take out seeds. Then, I fry all these rainbow peppers in olive oil with my quasi salted, home cured olives, (Neighbor has tree,) I wash salt off……add jalapenos, cleaned up, onions, garlic and give it a long slow fry. Then, I throw mélange into old peanut butter jars, squish down, then cover over the top of peppers with oil so no pepper is exposed to air. I fridge it. Every time I eat meat in a corn tortilla I slather my pepper salad on the taco. WOW! So much VIT C that it doesn’t last a week, but what a week!
I find cucumbers in trays, plastic covered, I wash them, dry them, peel (take off nicks,) and make my own PICKLES. IN SUMMER TIME those dumpsters are filled with cukes! Nectarines, peaches also.. which instantly become jam. I find Onions in net bags, wash dry, store in produce drawer. When I find the booty in the dumpster, the produce is in individual bags or plastic coffins cellophane wrapped. Another ‘exit’ wrap is the box. I then take the entire box as I plant seeds of the mushy stuff. A crate of berries will give you thousands of plants you can sell at 4$ each! Often the employee has kindly bagged this treasure trash in a 40 gallon black plastic trash bag so nobody will see it. HA! I SEE IT! I slit these big bags open to see the clean, protected foods inside. Then take the entire bag. It’s Just as clean as it was in the ole mercado. I reach in carefully not bumping sleeves, elbows wrists or fingers against the metal container, and by going daily, do not touch or try to use food that’s been there two days or twenty hours…and avoid touching the gucky stuff. One store, a healthfood store, let me come in and they’d pile up the things right in the market. 10 32 oz yogurts, a dozen bottles of milk, a rat-munched dog kibble bag. I then created a route of starving people. I had a car in those days. Made home deliveries..
RULES: Never tell the produce manager or employees inside the market, “why do you waste food like this? In that bag, 15 oranges were perfect, only one was soft. ”Ditto the potatoes. Ditto the tomatoes. Why don’t you lazy fools re-bag it, just removing the one bad fruit??”
Are you crazy? HUNGRY people won’t find anything there if you do that! Markets do not rebag. FORGETABOUT teaching the help! Just be grateful the stuff is there when you visit that parking lot. Or alley.
NEXT RULE: Don’t tell the men you date that the food you serve them came from a dumpster. Don’t tell girlfriends that you do this either, unless you think they NEED this art form and you could possibly teach them the art of procuring cheap food without their scorning you forever. One in ten wants to try. The other nine hear you have a head cold and immediately think it was your garbage diet! And with the SILENT MODALITY, When I get a hundred grapefruits, I can show up with a huge bag of grapefruit and say ‘my neighbor’s tree.’ And give it to them.
POPULAR SITES ON THE SUBJECT – THE FREEGANS and their maps of great stores/ dumpsters
Google ‘freegans’ & you’ll find fascinating Newsweek, New York Times articles on them.
http://urbandumpsterdiver.wordpress.com/ GREAT BLOG
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BOOTY WHEN YOU GET IT HOME!
ANYTHING FRUITY BECOMES JAM - To avoid getting "STEWED FRUIT," jam needs a thickener. SUGAR is one thickener but I don't like to add too much of it. Costly PECTIN POWDER is a great THICKENER but it's 4$ a box so use grated apples. FULL OF PECTIN. I never store jam on shelf as I don't sterilize. I boil and use wide funnel to get it in jar, then FREEZE til needed. Fridge works for a month or so.
SECRETS ON THICKENING and PECTIN (COSTLY) REPLACEMENT etc at http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/how-to-make-jam-without-using-added-pectin-07292014
WHAT I SEARCH FOR:
ONIONS – GARLIC SPROUTED or Bags of onions, slightly sprouted. They come home, get planted in the garden, bloom with big purple flowers. A really fresh onion was washed, dried(no wet food in fridge) and went in produce drawer in my fridge. Onions are 50c an lb now, so I NEED THEM!
DUMPSTER CAULIFLOWER - Simmer broken up chunks of cauliflower for 8min. Meanwhile off to side, fry 4 oz. Bacon or meat in olive oil w. onions, garlic. USE IRON SKILET. When cooked, 2 min, add chopped cilantro and chopped fresh dumpster tomatoes, throw in the cooked cauliflower, stir, cook one min.more then serve with a pair of corn tortillas (NO PRESERVATIVES,), heated on fire. ALTERNATE: SQUASH- Chop; yellow/green squash, simmer 8min. MAKE PAKORAS with it. Chick pea flour is cheap at Hindu/ARAB or Armenian markets. EVERYTHING IS! Half the price of Chain SuperMarkets.
DUMPSTER ROMAINE- Slice off neck, soak in sink l hr, root down; neck inhales water! Then, pick off leaves too fried by heat. Shake crispy leaves, dry in colander, bag up, but don't tie neck of bag. Just put in fridge. Same treatment for carrots. Soak in sink much longer, try overnight. If they’re spotted, I cut them up, simmer, drain, toss in the fried chicken iron skillet AFTER I DO CHICKEN, which has remnants of today’s chicken (for my cats,) and that oil keeps them from getting freezer burn as I squash ‘em in small containers and freeze them. Every day when I make cat meat, I’ll take out a YOGURT CUP or about a half cup of carrots, cook them with the cat’s meat. And I give them as is to possums in woodpile who get fed nightly. I like these stupid animals as they have eaten every snail and slug in my entire garden. I used to fill a bag with a pound of snails a night, during a chilly flashlight walk! Wouldn't DENT the population and they ate flowers/ vegies. Who needs that misery? Possums do the snail walk for me, now. So every night they get PAID they get carrots or apples or the bones from cat’s chicken which they demolish with their little shark teeth.
ICEBERG! I take iceberg lettuce for another reason. It is a soporific. Make salad at bedtime you sleep as if you’d had poppy bolux, dreaming in Chinese all night long. See INSOMNIA.
DRESSING: the brands you find in dumpsters are not so hot but I extend them with olive oil, homemade seasoned salt, lemon juice, onion slices, garlic squeezed in of course and best of all anchovy paste. Mayo, chopped cukes. To make dressing taste Oriental, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and even whizzed up tofu, soft kind. Makes creamy dressing. BOTTLE MUST BE COLD if it has MAYO in it.
BLACK BING CHERRIES: Float them, spot bad ones, cut off spots, take rest, soft simmer with sugar, lemon, lemon peel for 5 min. PULL SEEDS out of bad cherries, put in wet peat moss in fridge for two months, then sow them to get trees. THE GOOD CHERRIES you simmer with sugar, throw into jars, keep frozen or near freezing. They will rot in fridge unless you turn them into highly sugared jam as cherries have HIT VIT C. Those things require JAM procedures. Sugar is a preservative, so is HONEY. NOTE: My mistake in this recipe was only taking five pounds of cherries when there were fifty pounds in the dumpster. Most every cherry was perfect. The stewed cherries were about three glass jars worth. BUT THIS FRUIT is so unusually tasty and useful! ON TOP OF YOGURT. And it’s the superb blood builder of all time, for vital health. The cherry juice goes into my freshly made GRAPEFRUIT juice. EVEN though I get dead ripe grapefruits that in fact fell on the ground all around this HOT, California interior valley, with the tree owner’s blessings, THIS FRUIT needs a little sweetening but the incredible cherry flavour is sooooo wow! Try it with RED WINE, as a cherry sangria!
BANANAS have shot to 69c an lb so I can’t buy them any more. Dumpster Bananas become banana bread. I cut them into cereal, if it has started to get mushy, we all have cinnamon, nutmeg, milk in blender, a banana to sweeten, WOW! WOW! BANANA SHAKES ROCK! Throw walnuts in there when you make ‘em, good flavor. Nutmeg too. Cinnamon. Rum flavoring or real rum/brandy.
PEACHES/ NECTARINES / BERRIES and KIWIS become JAM. MIX LEMON PEEL and LEMON JUICE with the fruit. Add the sugar you THINK you need. Simmer 5 min, throw into old peanutbutter jars, well washed, lid when cool, keep in fridge. I don’t sterilize. It’s gone too quick! All the softer not so perfect berries which you can’t eat or make into jam, rub into a quart of water to free the seeds, plant them in flats. Baby berry plants get set in garden when five inches high.
KIWI/ LEMON JAM– Peel kiwis, slice. Boil wi. Sugar, lemon peel or zest and lemon juice. Take the black seeds out of raw fruit and plant it. Google propagation + kiwi.
BERRY/LEMON – Pluck out dented berries, simmer rest wi equal amt sugar and lemon zest and juice ALL DENTED BERRIES get planted in acidic soil, kept moist. Vines result.
APRICOTS/LEMON – Leave the skins on. You can even cook the jam with the stones, remove after they jell.
NOTE YOU CANNOT FIND MULBERRIES AT ANY MARKET but if you find a tree, add LEMON and RIND as it make good jam. MULBERRIES have no citric note so they really need lemon/ zest.
You will note that Lemon peel, zest and juice are required for most fruit & adding it is the secret of tasty jam.
Nectarine/peaches- Float them. Really rotten fruit sinks. Pick thru the rest, cut off rotten spots, peel, chop. ADD lemon peels, lemon juice, sugar, simmer five min. Jar up, freeze or near freezing. In fridge they mold after five weeks but not in freezer.
POMEGRANATE – Juice on electric citrus juicer. Simmer with sugar til syrupy. Store in glass jars. TO USE add to GINGER ALE for SHIRLEY TEMPLES. Add to water for an unusual drink. Throw in red wine you have Sangria Anti-oxidant rich so makes us young. Plant plenty of the seeds in a flat. Little pomegranate trees identical to mom.
BELL PEPPERS and CHILE PEPPERS are the most often found items. They lie in little coffins of plastic, with film over them, and none are corpses. All are perfectly delicious and fresh. MAYBE ONE has a spot. The store saw that spot and threw away the whole package. Sheer lunacy! These bells LIVED for us, and someone interrupted the process? I find thousands of them, wrapped neatly, inside of a big black trash bag, which when ripped open with a fingernail reveals a field of plenty! Heat olive oil, slice, eviscerate, (saving seed for the garden next spring,) fry with onion, garlic, then the meat goes in, served all in a delicious melange. Let’s hear it for PEPPERS!
CrookNeck yellow squash. Simmer in water with onion pieces, cilantro. In separate pan, fry olive oil wi. Onion, garlic, throw vegies in it, use your homemade seasoning salt, melt a few week old garlic jack cheese cheese pieces on top.It melts and freshens up,so keep old cheese around. Hey, in FRANCE, they keep cheese in a cellar for years, you think six months in your fridge is a deal breaker?
APPLES- Cut off bruises and throw ‘em thru a JUICER. Pith goes to possums. I feed possums nightly as they have eaten every snail in both gardens, so I forgive their making nests in the sealed garage that they had the wits to break into. These little guys love apples. They go to their little dish in the middle of the woodpile (50 feet of antique redwood plank fencing with all kinds of livable spaces, covies in the middle….and they eat well. If I have left over foods of any sort, it goes to them as they’re omnivores. I didn’t think they’d go for eggplant in porky-sauce. THEY LOVED it. Hey, if there’s ever a recession, I’d eat the possums before I ate the mice and rats! Guatemalans swear by them. Last night, my big tomcat Salty had a big fat rat in his mouth. I couldn’t stop him, it grieved me, but hey. Meat is meat. He’s tired of the chickens that I boil up, peel and debone. Giving him the real chicken, possums get bones and skin delivered to their tiny garage door crack so cats won't go near it.
WWIII hits, I'll be making possum stew in tarts and tacos. My favorite tart recipe however is apples cooked with honey, butter, spices, rum or brandy flavoring, walnuts. WHole wheat crusts are unfortunate. Frisbe time. Make em white or no one will bite. I do like BLACK though. I have an English black walnut tree 40 feet high. If you want a baby tree, come to me. squirrels planted an orchard of 'em here. Late summer I'm soaking nuts, peeling. Drying.
BACK TO APPLES. Keep a pint of stewed cinnamon, nutmeg flavored apples in the FRIDGE full time for dosing yogurt. Fig time, it's stewed figs with lemon rind and juice and plenty of sugar. Use either in pies. Bake oats and butter, sugar as crust, first, then cool a bit, add that apple stuff and some whipped cream.
REMEMBER apples make juice. HONEY CRISP is the best but there’s no controlling what Dumpster’s spittin at ya. I save all 64 oz jugs of plastic so the kids don’t know their JUICE was made while they were at school, made with real, healthy fruit. (WASH LABEL CAREFULLY so no wax on fruit. Then .001% bleach in sink of water for bacteria, ten minutes. ) Kids only trust store bottled pasteurized crap with lots of fructose corn syrup in it. But they soon lose the addiction to sugar.
Green apples turn into baked goods with cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, sugar. If you have 15 lbs of apples, make ten tarts, freeze 5, sell five to chums. Always do a real butter /oats crust. EVER FIND WHIPPED CREAM IN A DUMPSTER? Good for days. SOURS NATURALLY and still whips! But that's for DUMPSTER DOCTOR PH.D's.
See DUMPSTER DOCTOR 202 ADVANCED DEGREE
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