Scuppernong Muscadine Grapes
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Scuppernong Muscadine grapes are pale green to bronze-green in color with a thick, spotted skin. The grapes are large, around 4 centimeters in diameter, and contain 1 to 3 seeds. The pale green interior flesh is soft, sweet, juicy, and acidic, with undertones of honeysuckle and orange blossom. Scuppernong Muscadine grapes are a slip skin variety, and like all Muscadine grapes, they have a musky scent and flavor that lingers on the tongue.
Scuppernong Muscadine grapes are available in the late summer and fall months.
Scuppernong Muscadine grapes are botanically classified as Vitis rotindiflora, and are indigenous to the American South. They can be referred to as Scuplin grapes, Scupadine grapes, and Scuppernine grapes. They grow in clusters of between 1 to 15 berries and ripen individually in the cluster, making hand-harvesting a requirement for this variety of grape. They were the first of the Muscadine grapes to be discovered, and the term “Scuppernong” has since been used to refer to all green and bronze-colored varieties of Muscadine grapes.
Scuppernong Muscadine grapes contain vitamins B and C, potassium, trace minerals, antioxidants, and a high amount of fiber. The skin and seeds are high in resveratrol, a natural antibiotic that has been shown to have positive effects on human heart health and lowering cholesterol. Muscadine grapes are the only grapes that contain ellagic acid.
Scuppernong Muscadine grapes may be eaten fresh, but are more commonly used for making jams, jellies, preserves, juices and wines. They are often used in grape hull pie, a classic Southern recipe that includes the skin of the grape. Complementary ingredients for Scuppernong Muscadine grapes include basil, vanilla, lemon, butter, sugar and cream. Scuppernong Muscadine grapes can also be roasted to bring out their jammy flavor, and used alongside savory meats like pork. Store Scuppernong Muscadine grapes in a container in the refrigerator, where they will be good for a week.
Scuppernong Muscadine grapes are the state fruit of North Carolina, and have been featured in country music songs. They are so linked to the south that they provide a clear sense of place in Harper Lee's famous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), where she wrote that "helping ourselves to someone's scuppernongs was part of our ethical culture".
Scuppernong Muscadine grapes were first recorded in the mid-1500s by Italian explorers on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. The name "Scuppernong" was bestowed upon the grape in the 1700s, when it was also found in the Tidewater region of North Carolina, close to the Scuppernong River. Cuttings were taken from the “mother vine” on Roanoke Island and from the Scuppernong River, and were spread around the South. Many homesteads grew the Scuppernong Muscadine grape, and it was common for farmers and landowners to make wine from the grapes. Scuppernong Muscadine grapes remained a popular grape until the late 20th century, when other sweeter Muscadine varieties began to supercede them. Scuppernong Muscadine grapes are grown in home gardens rather than for commercial use, although some juice-makers use the Scuppernong variety for the novelty of its name.