|At market days, about to head to the restaurant to grab a bite for lunch.|
It was about a 5.3 mile bike ride to this location downtown. All along the way on the tree covered trail, the friendly folks we passed said, "good morning!" to us! Everyone was smiling. The weather was fabulous. We saw tons of beautiful birds and critters. We even passed cows, horses and donkeys. It was a perfect day! I just love our town! We then ventured a little further on main street to a restaurant we have wanted to try for a very long time. The "Scarlet Rabbit," has an "Alice in Wonderland" theme for the decor. It is such a fun place. And, the food was ridiculously good! We had a perfect bite for lunch and then we headed back home.
Mustang grapes are in their prime season right now--they grow really well in central Texas and can be found mainly along the edges of woods. You can't really just eat them off the vine--they are pretty bitter, and they can make your hands itch. But, apparently they make excellent jelly and wine. So, we decided to go back later that afternoon and gather some with the proper tools--we did a little "foraging". My plan was to make jelly and attempt my first ever "canning" experience.
|This is Abbey's "I am ready to get some grapes" stance apparently.|
|You can see Drew used gloves and brought some clippers.|
|After a while in the sun, the kids got a little tired of standing and holding bags. But, I believe it made them appreciate the process of getting those grapes and other fruits to the grocery store.|
Drew walked with the kids to the playground nearby while I finished up collecting grapes. I wanted to make sure I had plenty to make some jelly with.
When we got home and I began removing each grape from the stem, discarding the imperfect ones, I realized we had more than enough. The process to remove the grapes from the vines and then to wash them took a really long time. All the while, the kids were asking me when it would be ready. So again, it really helped not only them but also me appreciate the process that goes behind making that grape jelly. Because the grapes are pretty tart, I noticed most of the recipes required a significant amount of sugar. We don't typically buy any products that have sugar added to them, as I am a avid ingredient label reader. Before anything comes into our home or into/onto our bodies, I read the ingredient list to make sure the product has ingredients I don't mind myself or my family consuming. Since I was planning on making a lot of this jelly and we would be eating it every day, I wanted to make sure it wasn't full of sugar. We have come so far on eliminating sugar from our daily consumption I didn't want to go back steps. So, I finally came across a recipe (click here for a recipe for Dyanne's low sugar mustang jelly) that called for low-sugar or no-sugar pectin, which meant I could use significantly less sugar. Also, I used coconut sugar instead of other more processed and higher glycemic index sugars. I watched tons of videos and read many websites on the the topic of canning as well. I was so concerned that after spending all this time collecting these grapes, locating the special pectin and spending the time removing the grapes from the vines and thoroughly cleaning them, I wanted to make sure the jelly turned out right and was canned properly.
|Here, the grapes are getting a good, thorough bath in vinegar and water.|
|The finished product!|
And I have to add one more note to this post. I am so proud of our little guy, Luke. He rode over 12 miles on our bike ride on his bike, which has no gears to change. Drew and I changed our gears several times to trek over very steep hills, but Luke had no such opportunity to change his. He did an amazing job--and he is only 5 years old. I don't think I ever took a 12 mile bike ride when I was his age. He didn't even complain once. I love our little guy so much!