Monday, September 5, 2011
I found these at the grocery store yesterday in the grape section and, having no idea what they were, I had to have them. They look a bit like gooseberries, but with brown speckles, and they are very large (about the size of a big gumball). The fruit was labeled "Bronze Muscadine Grape" but the shelf label read "Scuppernong." That name was too fantastic to resist.
Wikipedia tells me Muscadine grapes are native to the South and that scuppernongs in particular are the state fruit of North Carolina. Further, the oldest cultivated grape vine is a scuppernong vine on Roanoke Island which is 400 years old! I cannot believe I had never heard of them before, but it must have something to do with growing up in Central Pennsylvania.
Speaking of which, growing up, concord grapes were a big deal in the summer. My mother used to grow them and when we didn't have our own we waited until they showed up in the produce section for our fix. Scuppernongs remind me very much of the concord grape, with its seeds, tough skin, and sour/sweet interior. I've been eating them out of hand, but it seems that a popular use for these grapes is jam. Unfortunately, I don't have enough for this application; however, I could even see them on a salad, in a sandwich, or on a pizza (don't get me started on grapes on pizza... weirdly good).
If you have any experience with these grapes, I would love to hear about it. And, if you see them nestled among the usual red and green grapes at your grocery store I highly recommend giving them a try.