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Muscadine Terminology

Scuppernong is the original variety of bronze muscadine discovered growing in the wild. Today even though improved bronze varieties such as Carlos and Magnolia have been developed for commercial plantings, most southerners still refer to any bronze muscadines as Scuppernongs. Purple or black varieties are commonly called muscadines.

Scuppernong & Muscadine History

The Earliest Accounts

North Carolina is the home of our nation's first cultivated grape. The earliest written account of the "White Grape," as it was called by our colonist, occurs in Giovanni de Verrazzano's logbook. Verrazzano, the Florentine navigator, who explored the Cape Fear River Valley for France in 1524, wrote that he saw "...Many vines growing naturally there..."

"Grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater"

Sir Walter Raleigh's explorers, captains Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe wrote in 1584, that the coast of North Carolina was "...so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them...in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found."

In 1585, Governor Ralph Lane stated in describing North Carolina to Sir Walter Raleigh that "We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and most pleasant gummes, grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater..."

Of Muscadines and Scuppernongs...

Of the bounteous store of natural gifts that have rolled forth from the Horn of Plenty upon the soil of North Carolina few have been more celebrated than the scuppernong grape. It is a sport of the species Vitis rotundifolia, commonly called muscadine, which is native to the southern states and grows nowhere else save as an exotic. The muscadine, it is no exaggeration to say, could well be substituted for cotton in the first line of "Dixie" if one were to bow to botanical realism. The scuppernong variety of muscadine has a tough skin and is bronzy green in color, rather than black or purplish as were its ancestors. Its size, to use traditional Tarheel parlance, is "about that of a hog's eye." As is the case with all muscadines, the fruit does not grow in conventional bunches, and when ripe it can be readily shaken from its vine. It's abundant juice is so deliciously sweet, with a kind of musky, fruity flavor, that when it's unusual color attracted attention, in the general vicinity of present day Columbia, N.C., possibly toward the end of the eighteenth century, specimens were transplanted or seeds or cuttings sown on neighboring farms and gardens whence in time its reputation spread throughout the botanical world.

At first it was simply called the Big White Grape, for the name scuppernong, as we shall see, was not applied to it until some time after its choice qualities and immense productiveness were known in the Tidewater region of North Carolina. It came to particular notice in Tyrrell County, along the banks of a short stream that broadens into an arm of Albemarle Sound and had long since been suprisingly clear, which was also called Scuppernong Lake, though its official name is Phelps, after one of the two local hunters who penetrated the dense thickets surrounding it and "discovered" it in 1755.

How to Eat a Scuppernong

Scuppernongs like all muscadines have thick skins and contain seeds. To eat a scuppernong, first... hold the grape with the stem scar up; second... put the grape with the stem scar facing upward in your mouth and squeeze or bite the grape; third... the pulp and juice will burst through the skin into your mouth; fourth... savor the fruity flavor, but be sure not to chew the skin since it is bitter. You may want to spit out the skin and seeds: however, some people simply swallow them.

Storage

Keep North Carolina Scuppernongs in a covered shallow container in the refrigerator for best results. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them. They will keep for up to a week depending upon their original condition, but are best if utilized within a few days. Inspect the grapes periodically and remove any showing evidence of decay.

Nutritional Information

Scuppernong grapes contain 95-100 calories per cup. Scuppernongs are high in Vitamin C and contain potassium, Vitamin B, and trace minerals. They are naturally low in sodium and free of fat and cholesterol. When measuring, 2 cups of scuppernongs equals 3/4 pound.

RECIPIES

Scuppernong Juice
  1. Crush thoroughly 3 pounds (about 9 cups or 4 pints) fully ripe scuppernongs.
  2. Add 1 cups water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Strain through jelly bag or cheese cloth.
  4. Refrigerate and serve, or use in recipes that follow.

Scuppernong Jelly

  1. Measure 7 cups sugar and set aside.
  2. Put 4 cups scuppernong juice and 2 tsp. lemon juice in large saucepan.
  3. Mix in 1 box Sure-Jell. Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
  4. Add sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Skim off foam with metal spoon.
  7. Pour at once into prepared jars. Yield: 8 half pints.
Grape Hull Pie
5 cups muscadine grapes, rinsed
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. Grated orange rind
pastry for 2-crust pie
2 tbs. margarine
  1. Separate pulp from skins.Set skins aside.
  2. Boil pulp until seeds loosen, then press through a sieve to separate pulp from seeds.
  3. Cook pulp with skins until tender.
  4. add sugar, flour, lemon juice, and orange rind. Mix well.
  5. Put in pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate. Top with margarine.
  6. Add top pastry. Seal edges and slit top.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees about 40 minutes.
    Sweet & Sour Glaze
    2 cups muscadine jelly
    2 tbs. prepared mustard
    2 tbs. lemon juice
    1/2 tsp. ground cloves
    1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan.
    2. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to desired consistency.
    3. Use as a glaze to baste ham, chicken, fish or vegetables, or serve as a sauce.