The first time I noticed this was when we still lived smack dab in the center of town. I walked outside with my children often and in the fall I noticed that a vacant house down the road had a pear tree in the front yard and it was loaded with pears, but no one was picking them! The house had been vacant for almost a year and no one had been caring for or spraying the tree so I knew it was good clean, pesticide free fruit. I did a bit of research and found out who owned the property so I just picked up the phone and called the owner. He gave me full permission to pick away, and so I did. I canned about 24 quarts of pear sauce that year and my love of ugly trees began. (I call them ugly because the fruit is often mottled, can be spotted, etc as the tree is not treated with chemicals to keep the pests away).
I moved to the country and planted my own trees a few years ago, however, if any of you have fruit trees you know that it can take up to 5 years to produce fruit from a new sapling tree. So, what is a girl to do? I posted on a local facebook swap site asking if anyone had "ugly farm apples" they wanted to get rid of. I got a hit right away from a woman who just bought her farm and it had a number of pear trees completely loaded with HUGE pears, she said she could never use all of them and didn't want to see them go to waste. My kids and I loaded up with 3 bushels of pears, completely free.
This year was no different, my trees still aren't yielding me anything and I actually lost one of my miniature apple trees to a late frost. So, I kept my eyes peeled and asked around. Sure enough there were two elderly widows who lived across the road from one and other and each had an apple tree that was more of a nuisance than anything else to them because they were not using the fruit and the fruit was dropping all over the yard causing issues when mowing. Both ladies were more than happy to see the fruit go to good use as we picked and they shared memories of their childhood with us too. The funny thing is that they both said, "Oh you may not want those apples, they haven't been sprayed..." ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? That is what I do want, that is an organic apple at its base!!!
And bonus, one of the ladies had a peach tree too, she didn't even know it had fruit until we went out to it and she was glad to see the fruit gone!
I have done the apples two ways. First is the rinse and scrub method, I do this for fresh eating for sure but it takes LOTS of elbow grease. I rinse in vinegar water and use a scrub brush. I also always cut my ugly farm apples because sometimes they have guests inside and let's face it, now one wants to bite into a juicy apple that is inhabited.
Here is the warning, this (and sometimes worse) is what the inside of some of these completely free from spray and chemical apples look like.
Look around, you may be surprised at what you find near you just going to waste!
P.S. as a note of kindness it is always good to either follow up with a note or a fresh jar of some food you have made with your bounty to the person who allowed you to pick!