Muscadine Grapes (Swamp Grapes)
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Muscadine grapes are available from late summer through mid-fall.
Vitis rotundifolia, commonly known as Muscadine grapes, or Muscadines, are found both in the wild and in commercial vineyards in the Southeastern United States. Muscadines are one of four grape varieties native to North America. In New York, they are called Swamp grapes for the wetlands of the variety’s native region. They grow in small loose clusters unlike the large, tight bunches characteristic of European and American grapes.
Muscadine grapes do not look very much like grapes. The berries resemble small, round plums or black cherry tomatoes more so than any of its table grape cousins. A golden or bronze colored muscadine is called a scuppernong. Muscadines grow in loose clusters on vines, and are typically harvested as individual berries for their size. The skin is very thick and has a tart flavor. Bite into the top of the fruit and peel the skin back. The flesh beneath is a pale green with a juicy and sweet flavor. There are a few seeds and some can be large; overall the whole fruit is edible.
Muscadine grapes have adapted to their harsh, hot and humid environment. The berry has a thicker skin and an additional chromosome to help act as an internal protection system. Scientists studying this protection system have shown that when Muscadines are eaten, the protective properties are passed to humans. These include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer mechanisms. Muscadine grapes are said to have more antioxidants than acai berries, pomegranates or goji berries. Seeds and skins are often used in food supplements. There is more fiber in Muscadine grapes than in a serving of oats and more than double an average person’s intake of antioxidants.
Muscadine grapes are used to make jellies and jams or wine in the Southeastern US. They can also be enjoyed fresh, out-of-hand. Halve the grapes and add them to salads for a sweet addition.
Muscadine cultivars grow wild in Arkansas and have been grown commercially since 1972.
The first record of Muscadine grapes was in the Southeastern US in the mid-1500s. Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have discovered the berry during one of his explorations. Muscadines are some of the first native grapes to be cultivated in the US. Georgia is the largest grower of Muscadines, followed by North Carolina. There are hundreds of cultivars of Muscadine grapes that range in color and slightly in flavor. Because they are considered to be more of a berry than a grape, Muscadines are usually found in the berry section of most grocers.
Recipes that include Muscadine Grapes (Swamp Grapes). One is easiest, three is harder.
|Add a Pinch||Muscadine Jelly|
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