For two months out of the year- August and September- Florida is graced with the presence of the wild muscadine grape, commonly known as the “scuppernong” (although technically, the term “scuppernong” refers to a specific variety of muscadine grape.) The muscadine is native to the Southeastern states and, while it can be found in the wilderness, it is readily cultivated and quite tolerant to pests and disease, making it an ideal organic crop. The fruit of the muscadine is slightly different from the red and green European grapes found in your local grocery store; the flavor is somewhat muskier, seeds are present in the flesh, and the skin of the grape is much tougher and thicker. They are larger and more spherical in shape than European grapes and the skin can range in color from a dark purple- almost black- to a green-tinged bronze.
When eating muscadines on their own, many people opt to suck the sweet pulp out of the fruit and discard the tart skin and seeds, however, the skin and seeds are full of excellent nutrients. In addition to a variety of essential nutrients, the muscadine skin, seeds, and pulp contain high amounts of resveratrol, a compound found in wine that supports cardiovascular health. (American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (vol. 47, pp. 57-61)) In addition to being a nutritious and tasty fruit eaten whole, the juice of the muscadine is frequently used in the South to make jams, jellies, and wine. In fact, the Florida Grape Growers’ Association hosts an annual wine competition at the Florida State Fair each February, giving business owners and amateur hobbyists alike a chance to showcase their muscadine wine.
If you are lucky enough to find and purchase some locally-grown muscadines, the Florida Grape Growers’ Association has a stock of traditional Southern recipes featuring these unique fruits in everything from jams and jellies to Scuppernong Pie (found here.) Although there are several vineyards in Florida, the closest one to Tallahassee is the Monticello Winery on the Ladybird Organics Farm in Monticello.
Natasha is a violinist and music instructor in Tallahassee, FL. She recently graduated from The Florida State University with her B.M. in Violin Performance and is in the final semester of a B.M.E. in Instrumental Music Education, also at Florida State. Natasha has been playing since the age of three and made her solo debut with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra at age fourteen. She currently plays for Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and Mobile Symphony Orchestra, and teaches both privately and for the Tallahassee Youth Orchestras.
Copyright © 2013, Freshfully.com
200 41st Street S Birmingham, AL 35222 (map)