Ripening grapes bring about memories, ideas

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, September 5, 2007

By Staff
The sound of the school bells buzzing and children returning to school in August is always my signal that &#8220grapes” will soon be ripe. The grapes I'm referring to are the sweet succulent fruit of muscadines and scuppernongs. Before long I'll be scurrying to my favorite secret vines in West End.
My mouth is watering just thinking about popping the big sweet luscious fruit in my mouth - they are soo-o good. My &#8220friend, LW” says he likes to see things grow and he raises the &#8220grapes” for his children, friends and neighbors. He has even experimented with the different varieties by intertwining the golden scuppernongs with the purplish muscadines. The flavors really compliment each other.
Grapes are grown all across the country in a large variety of colors, from white through yellow, amber, pale green and dark green, to the red and dark blues, purple, and blacks. However, the two most common varieties of grapes found in the South are the purplish blue muscadines and the yellowish brown scuppernongs. The scuppernong produces the largest fruit of any cultivated grape, the fruit being twice the size of the largest Concord. Both varieties have a peculiar musky odor, sweet tasting flesh and can be interchangeable in a recipe.
When you talk about the nutritive value of grapes; they are a good source of potassium (155 mg/100 g) fiber (1.9%), vitamin C (33 mg/100 g), and bioflavonoids. You can make wonderful desserts which includes baked goods, fruit dishes, jams, jellies, juices, salads and pies; and in the production of wines.
We have a free pamphlet called Grapes: Muscadines &Scuppernongs available to you. Call 867-7760 or stop by our office and pick up your copy today. Here are some great recipes from the pamphlet to try:
Muscadine or Scuppernong Preserves
When made into preserves, muscadine grapes give a product very distinctive in color, texture, and flavor.
2 pounds de-seeded grapes
5 pounds sugar (10 cups)
Cook de-seeded grapes slowly until the hulls are tender. This will be about15 minutes. But, the time will vary with variety of grapes. Add sugar directly to the simmering hulls and pulp. Cook until the product reaches the jelly test or 8 degrees F. higher than the boiling point of water. Pack hot in pre-heated jars and seal. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Water-bath in boiling water 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts. Yields 8 to 9 pints.
Muscadine or Scuppernong Grape Cobbler
8 cups grapes (4 pounds)
1 cup water
3 /4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. grated orange rind
4 tablespoons tapioca
Separate skins from grapes. Simmer pulp, covered, 5 to 10 minutes until seeds fall out. Press pulp through colander to remove seeds. Cook skins with 1-cup water till tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Combine de-seeded pulp with cooked skins and add the sugar, lemon juice, orange rind and tapioca. Simmer a few minutes to thicken. Makes 4 to 6 cups filling. Use with your favorite cobbler recipe or try my Easy Cobbler Crust.
Easy Cobbler Crust
1 /2 stick butter or margarine
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
Melt butter in 8 x 8 baking dish. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk, and beat or mix in blender until smooth. Pour batter into baking dish. Spoon 2 to 2 1/2 cups grape filling over top of batter. Do not stir. Bake at 325 degrees F. one hour, until top is browned.

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