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Short Walk: Foraging in Downtown Oklahoma City Part 4 in a series

Crabapples are this week's find in urban foraging. Slightly larger than cherries, they are mini-apples
Crabapples are this week's find in urban foraging. Slightly larger than cherries, they are mini-apples

This is the second day adventure in a series of checking in on intown neighborhoods as Downtown Oklahoma City experiences it's ongoing rebirth, this article identifies the surprise of finding a fruit in season on an intown tree and couple of related water secrets readers may not know.

On Thursday, this writer spotted a tree while riding on the OKC EMBARK public transit route 16. This tree was heavily laden with luminescent ruby red orbs that looked suspiciously like plums. The tree came and went rather quickly, and it wasn't clear just what that was. But the tree was in front of the Eureka Water Company that much was clear.

So this writer took a walk from the office down to the site again on Friday. That was about 1.6 miles each way from the office. This is just about 6 blocks WEST of the Myriad Gardens, to Eureka Water.

This area is full of light industrial business fronts, created in the late 1920's and 30's. Native red clay rough textured brick, probably from the ACME brick company, highlighted with limestone sconces and carvings seems the style on most of these properties. Many of which are for sale. For whatever reason, dogwood flowers are heavily popular as building decorations in OKC during this time frame. They look a little like this... and typically punctuate at intervals, the top edge of exteriors of buildings, perhaps as an indicator of rebirth or symbol of Christianity.

The Eureka Water Company name is a relatively new alias for the much loved agua delicacy Ozarka Water. Ozarka Water is easily the Poland Springs of the Southwest. This bottled springwater is delightful and only available regionally Their administrative office in an intown neighborhood along Embark transit route 16, it is housed just South of the Oklahoma City Mission.

And Eurkea Water is also on TWITTER at Most people know Eureka Water for their water, and now seasonally for supersoaker watergun fights at Midtown's H&8th. Even newer is their giant dual lane slip and slide in Deep Deuce, The @ozarkaok slip 'n slide getting ready for the #deepdeucedive The Ozarka giant waterslide will be available for a number of weeks to come. Deep Deuce being a former hangout of the late author Ralph Ellison and a hip and happening intown neighborhood just NORTH of Bricktown shopping,dining and nightclub district. I suspect he did not slip and slide in his day... well... at least not like this.

Ok. But the Eureka Water Company is on a sleepy little street pretty much by it's lonesome. Even near the lunch hour, virtually noone passed this writer walking to the property. Upon arrival, this writer discovered that tree again.... the fruit, intact and plentiful was on a crabapple tree. Crabapples, which are typically small and the size of a thumb, are often used for backyard children's warring. These were almost as big as a small Santa Rosa plums were fully ripe and ready to be picked.

This writer went back to the office of Eureka Water Company and asked the staff if picking the fruit was acceptable. Noone could deem a policy otherwise and they sent me on with encouragement and some degree of amusement. Not their every day question.

This writer cleaned off about half the tree. Having expert picking experience as a child .... ( this writer's family always kept a garden of somekind and this writer was responsible for picking plums and cherries) methods and techniques of fruit harvest that don't damage the tree returned immediately and were employed.

In that it was +100 degree heat index having a large grocery bag full, this writer proceeded back to the office. Upon arrival, had to repeatedly wrestle the cat from the bag. For some reason the cat is very interested in the leaves, and kept absconding the crabapples from the bag, to get more leaves to eat. (The cat also eats spinach raw and some flower leaves. Who knew?)

Ok. So now what? Crabapples are tart, firm and these were big enough to be eaten individually. Crabapples have a high vitamin C rating and some iron. The flavor of this batch was very much like a Jonathan apple, though the texture was firm, like a Granny Smith apple.

This writer washed and then sliced the apples from the core, carefully leaving the seeds intact there, perfect for composting.

The crabapples were then put in the crockpot with water to cover. This writer made about 3 cups chopped, covered with water and 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon and about 1/3 c sugar. Adding some fresh butter would be great too, but these were oil free.

The apples cooked in about 2 hours on high to al dente. They appeared much like peaches in color, but the texture was still firm like an apple.

Suggested servings can be to eat them plain, cooked as breakfast or as a side dish with a meal. Mixing with yogurt and granola this would increas the nutritional density of the crabapples.

These could be used as any fruit ... for a cobbler, pie or hand pie or apple cake even. They freeze well, and could be used incrementally if frozen in 1 cup servings in a ziplock bag as those are easier to store in quantity in the freezer.

Other people have remarked they did only wash their apples and destem, and put them in a crock pot whole, and running it through a food mill to extract seeds, core and pulp to make crabapple butter, which was then packaged and frozen or used immediately and unused kept refrigerated for a week or so.

This writer's eldest brother annually makes crabapple jelly and has for years, following in the footsteps of our Mother who annually made two or more kinds of jelly from fruit grown, picked and preserved by family hands each Summer. She won a ribbon at the State Fair of Oklahoma for a unique jellly concotion of the juices of unripened green concord grapes grown on her brother's farm and raspberries.

This writer's Uncle said it well, when referencing that for some there is an undeniable urge to garden, forage and farm, that can only be satisfied by same. Probably harkening back to our indigenous roots. What fun to see OKC hatching and to continuously discover intown food sources.

Thanks to the Eureka Water Company in Downtown Oklahoma City for making this adventure possible.

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