Muscadine grapes are native to the southern United States, as they take very well to our humid and hot summers. They have tough skins and are more acidic and less sweet than the table grape varieties that we are accustomed to eating from California. They also have seeds, which turns many people off to fresh eating. However, there is something classically southern and romantic about these grapes. The vines themselves are perfectly beautiful. They drape over trellises, occupy terrace walls, and line garden walkways throughout the south. Scuppernong grapes (a variety of Muscadine) are even the North Carolina state fruit! So, how do we best enjoy this fruit that we have chosen to represent our own state? Like a lot of things in Southern cooking, the best results are often achieved by taking it slow and enjoying the process.
Sauces, jams, jellies, and even wine are where the southern Muscadine truly shines. Sweet Muscadine sauces are the base in many southern desserts, like Muscadine Grape Hull Pie. They can be cooked into jams or jellies and stored throughout the winter. Many native southerners have been making Muscadine wine for generations. However, their applications can extend beyond sweets, even into savory entrees. Whether you are interested in charting new territory with our state fruit, or just enjoying some classic southern sweets, the Muscadine is a fruit worth getting to know.
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