Celebrate the Mighty Muscadine
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If you are from Eastern North Carolina, you’re probably familiar with Muscadine grapes. They’re the large, round, thick-skinned fruits that are often transformed into sweet wines and jellies. They are considered “the grape of choice in the South,” according to many Muscadine producers and processors.
Did you know that Muscadine are antioxidant powerhouses, surpassing even nutritional superstars like blueberries and pomegranates in their antioxidant content? Muscadines are known to be especially high in the antioxidants resveratrol and ellagic acid.
Resveratrol is the antioxidant that is responsible for red wine’s heart-healthy reputation, and the mighty muscadine has nine times more antioxidant power than the red grapes used to make California’s red wines. They also contain six times the fiber; muscadine wines may also contain three to four times the amount of phenolic compounds (which have antioxidant properties), plus a higher ellagic acid content than your average red wine.
According to the most recent research, “Resveratrol helps to decrease cholesterol, fight cancer, and some newer studies show that it may reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, high-blood pressure, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, and more, and ultimately may lengthen one’s lifespan.”
Muscadines are also fat-free, high in fiber, low in sodium and an excellent source of manganese — they’re a perfect addition to a healthy diet.
To get the full nutritional power, you must remember to eat the skin!
To really celebrate the Mighty Muscadine check out the North Carolina Muscadine Festival.
Scuppernong or Muscadine Grape Hull Pie
(I have shared this recipe before but it still holds the number 1 spot for most requested recipes, recipe by Nancie McDermott for Our State Magazine)
Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups Muscadine or scuppernong grapes (about 2 pounds), rinsed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust, leaving a 1-inch overhang.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt, and stir with a fork to mix well. Set out a medium bowl and a medium saucepan.
Squeeze the grapes over the saucepan, dropping the pulpy, seed-filled grapes into the pan and placing their thick, sturdy skins, or hulls, into the bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and cook the grape pulp until softened and shiny, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked grape pulp to a strainer and place it over the bowl of grape hulls. Press the grapes through the strainer, pushing the softened pulp into the pan with the hulls while extracting the large, round seeds. Use the back of a large spoon to get as much pulp as possible. Discard the seeds, and transfer the hulls and pulp back to the saucepan. Cook them over medium heat to soften the hulls, about 5 minutes more.
Add the sugar mixture and lemon juice to the grapes and stir to mix everything well. Pour the filling into the piecrust. Sprinkle the small bits of butter over the grape filling, distributing it evenly. Wet the rim of the bottom piecrust to help seal it.
Roll the remaining dough into a 10-inch circle and cover the filling. Trim away the extra pastry extending beyond the rim of the pie pan. Crimp the edges firmly, or press them down with the back of a fork, working your way around the edge of the pie to seal the crust well. Use a sharp knife to cut 8 slits in the top crust, to allow steam to escape and fruit juices to bubble up as the pie cooks.
Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet to capture any drips, and place it on the lower shelf of the 400-degree oven. Bake 10 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake until the crust is a handsome, golden brown and the grape juices are bubbling up through the crust, about 40 to 50 minutes more. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie.
Slow Cooker Muscadine Grape Butter
2 pounds muscadines, seeds removed
1 ½ cups sugar
8 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix together the three ingredients. Place in Slow Cooker. Turn on high for three hours or low for 8 hours. When time is up, uncover the slow-cooker and blend the cooked down grapes, I like to use an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, cool your mixture and use a blender. Blend until you get the desired texture, chunky or smooth.
Pour the hot mixture into a jar, apply the lid. Let the jar cool for 2 hours before placing in the refrigerator. Use just like you would apple butter, sweet potato butter or any other fruit or vegetable butter.
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding
½ cup melted butter
1 ¼ cup muscadine or scuppernong wine, or juice
For the Glaze;
4 tablespoons muscadine juice
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cake mix, pudding, butter, eggs, and wine/juice to a large bowl and beat for 4 minutes. Place batter into a well-greased and floured bundt pan. Bake 40-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly and turn out while still warm.
For glaze, Combine 4 tablespoons muscadine juice and 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar together in a small bowl. Poke tiny holes into cake with a toothpick to allow glaze to cover and sink in.
Muscadine Grape Juice
2 lbs. Muscadine Grapes
1⁄4 cup sugar
Wash and stem grapes and fill sterilized/hot canning jars 3/4ths full of grapes. Add 1 Tbsp. sugar to each pint jar or 2 Tbsp. sugar to a quart jar. Fill each jar with boiling water.
Add lids and rings; hand tighten.
Process in hot water bath for 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack. Store jars for 2-3 weeks. Strain juice and grapes through cheesecloth-lined colander into bowl.
Chill or proceed with jelly making. Yields 2 quarts.