With the weather in texas over 100 degrees for close to 30 days in a row now. I did some much needed work around the house this past weekend (my DVR is now completely empty). One of those items was to take more grapes off of our vines since we are in a nice drought and the intense heat has brought them to a nice place to be pulled. There is no more rippening or sweetening just shrinking.
My wife has made from our previous harvests grape jelly, grape syrup, wine, and now we have made raisins. Lets talk about first having fresh produce around the house. I think first of all growing grapes is about as easy as any fruit can be to grow. All you need is a fence and a grape vine. Nature and god do most of the rest of the work. The reward is a fruit to eat and an opportunity to get out for a few moments in the day. Grape vines take 2 to 3 seasons before they produce any quality grapes but, once they do it is a simple product from there. You don't have to replant anything, minor amounts of disease, pests are not much of a problem, and people think you are high society when they hear you have a vineyard. The only thing is you have to keep your runners trimmed up during the season and cut the vines back in the fall.
Here is a bowl full of grapes ready to be eaten or like what I did is dried them for raisins. First I had to pull the grapes off of the stems, rinse off the outdoors, then just put them in the dehydrator. What this does for my diabetes as well is gives me that "I can," attitude towards life in general. Surfing the web and reading diabetes blogs I run into probably 1 in 5 people complaining about how hight their BG's are or what food is doing what to them but, you never get enough small positives wins with diabetes. It always seems we focus 100% on our care without finding small victories for us each day.
Above is a look at my beginnings of my first batch. I picked up the dehydrator from Aldi. I have had a dehydrator years ago and was very dissapointed in it. I like to make homemade jerky and the dehydrator seemed to dry the jerky uneven. With the price of this dehydrator at 19.99 I thought to give dehydrating another try. When doing jerky I just use the oven at 250 degrees for 6 to 8 hours. This unit still is not very consistant with the rate of drying but alot better than the one I had as a kid.
Ah, the final product is very good. Knowing that I grew the grapes, cut them straight from the vine and dried them myself gives me that warm and fuzzy self achievement feeling. We want to be a self sustaining society these days while cutting costs and being economical. I would say to anyone, start with a garden and work your way up. I have about 40 square feet of lemon basil that took over a corner of my yard. Now when I mow my backyard I get the sweet smell of lemon in one corner, I also have mint in another corner, and of corse just grass in the rest. It never smelled so good to mow the lawn.
My weekend did not consist of any camping due to the extreme heat but, with the time off I used it wisely and learned a new skill in dehydrating fruit. Now my wife has gone out and bought bananas and apples to dry. One small victory for the diabetic camper.