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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Muscadine Memories

childhood memory

When I was a child, we often visited Aunt Willie in Mississippi. She was my mother's aunt, so she was the age of my grandmother, actually, my grandmother's sister, my great-aunt. Aunt Willie would always have muscadine jam. I called it jelly. I am going to make muscadine jam just like she did--with grape seeds in it.
Jelly would be smoother, but I actually like the grape skins and the pulp I had as a small child. She would chuckle and say, "Linda, watch for seeds. I never get them all out." I am sure she did not leave all the seeds in, but I am not working too hard to remove them. I may dip a few seeds out as I mash them and heat them on the stove. Since I could only afford a quart of these at $3.98, I am going to make the jelly, pour it in two sterile pint jars and refrigerate it. It's just me, so I won't worry about seeds until I spread the jam on toast. And, I am not going to serve this to anyone but exbf.
Some of these have the diameter of a quarter. In years past, I have traipsed in Bankhead Forest and gathered muscadines. Those adventures involved tripping over the forest floor, thorns eating my knit pants and legs. I would get in the tub when I got home and pick thorns out of my bleeding legs.
I ate one and think I might eat another. The taste and scent drive me mad. I know that two seems a stingy way to have a treat, but I want some jelly, too. Yes, this is one of the most powerful scents and memories of my childhood!
If there are any crab apples left on some state property, tomorrow I will make my own pectin for the jelly.  Or, I will resort to commercial pectin. I do not want to stand long enough for this to gel. Besides, these are all very ripe.
In the South, people often make muscadine wine. Even the commercial muscadine wine is so aromatic that it almost hurts to smell it.

And, my birthday is not until September 11th.
Your turn
Have you ever eaten  muscadines? Picked them from the forest or cultivated vines? Have you ever eaten muscadine jelly? Made muscadine jelly? Wine? What particular scents evoke memories of your childhood?


  1. Hi Linda...I am not familiar with muscadine, Is this a southern thing? We have concord grapes in our yard and I have juiced them and frozen them, I should be out there picking them right now.

    1. carol
      Yes, it is a Southern thing, I believe. Concord grapes are delicious, too. My scuppernong are probably ready. The way I remember is that they are ripe the week of my birthday. I need to go look for strays since my arbor was destroyed by a tree. Do you juice them to drink juice or juice them to make jelly in the winter?

    2. I juice them to drink. I have never made jelly. I did make a concord grape pie once. ONCE. Talk about a production. My husband loved it, but it was so sweet it made my teeth ache.

  2. No, I haven't tried it - but you make it sound so very tempting.
    Cinnamon (and vanilla) are scents which trigger memories for me. And I always have both of them in my store cupboard.

    1. EC,
      I will send some to Pumpkin pie would be a childhood baking memory for me. But, I always have vanilla and cinnamon on hand all the time.

  3. OMG, we have muscadines, four varieties that are in containers in the back yard in town that will soon (when it gets cooler) be planted at the farm. I am currently researching trellis designs and planning it. I'll have to till the soil/ground where I'm planning on putting them so they have the best chance but it's coming. I had never eaten one but the reason we are planting them is because they are a southern thing and they do grow well down here. In fact the 4 varieties I bought are the 4 best for our particular climate. last year, they actually put a few small clusters while in their containers. First we've ever eaten. They were SO SO good. Such a great grape taste. If we can get them growing well, I want to do all of it, jelly, wine. etc. Thanks for the post!!

    1. 1st Man,
      So, you can attest to the deliciousness and aroma!

      I have a concern. Will you have grapes pollinating each other and have something you don't want. I don't know about grape planting. I know pecans don't cross pollinate and make a new pecan.

      My scuppernong arbor was crushed. Plus, the tiny tree in the neighbor's yard grew to be a huge tree in the last forty years. So, I may just put the posts in a line and wire on the top, planting the vines along the wires. It was 9 x 18 feet before the arbor was crushed.

      You are welcome!

  4. We love muscadines! At our last house, we had a great crop of green muscadines going; I noticed that the new owner pulled them all out. He must have been insane.

    Are scuppernongs and muscadines the same thing? We always debate this.

    I've had some delicious muscadine jelly and wine - but I didn't make either.

    Have a good day, Linda!

    1. Cherdo,
      What color when ripe? No, muscadines are the color above and scuppernongs are green and turn a rust color or goldish.

      My goodness! Did he know what they were?


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