Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) is a member of the grape family. It is native to much of North America and grows wild in roadsides and forests.
It has been extensively cultivated since the 16th century. Its natural range is recognized in the following states of the US: Alabama, Arkansas, the Carolinas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. They are well adapted to their native warm and humid climate; they need fewer chilling hours than better known varieties and they thrive on summer heat.
Muscadine berries range from bronze to dark purple to black in color when ripe. However, many wild varieties stay green through maturity. They have skin sufficiently tough that eating the raw fruit often involves biting a small hole in the skin to suck out the pulp inside. Muscadines are not only eaten fresh, but also are used in making wine, juice, and jelly.
Muscadine vineyards can have a harvest of up to 15 tons per acre planted. For best growth, the vines should be on a trellis so that the weight of the length of the vine can be supported.
In a natural setting, muscadines are important plants for improving wildlife habitat by providing cover, browse, and fruit for a wide variety of animals.
The muscadine is very sought after for its big, aromatic, sweet fruit which, as soon as fully ripe, drops to the ground and becomes hidden among fallen leaves.
Not only is the muscadine everywhere sought for its fresh fruit and for preserves and jellies, but Dr. Carver enthusiastically recommended the preparation of Muscadine “leather” as described here:
Gather when ripe, was, put in a porcelain or granite preserving kettle, cover with boiling water, let simmer until the berries are hot through and the hulls have turned a reddish color, now stir in a scant tablespoon of baking soda to the gallon of fruit, stir well for three minutes, but do not mash the fruit; drain off this water, wash in three more waters, being careful each time not to mash the berries.
They may now be dried whole or made into a leather the same as recommended for strawberries. I much prefer the leather, the hulls will be very tender and the fruit of a fine flavor.
The seeds may be removed by passing through a colander. I wish every housewife would try this.
Muscadines are not only eaten fresh, but also are used in making wine, juice, and jelly.
Fruits can be eaten as jams or jellies, and some prefer them fresh from the vine. Muscadines can make for a juice drink as well.
Muscadine grapes are rich sources of polyphenols and other nutrients studied for their potential health benefits. Gallic acid, catechin and epicatechin are the major phenolics in seeds, while ellagic acid, myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol, and trans-resveratrol are the major phenolics in the skins
For this jam recipe, you’ll need 2 gallons of muscadines, a teaspoon of butter, 8 cups of sugar, and 2 Sure Jell pectin packages.
Cut the muscadines in half while taking out the seed. Put all the halved muscadines in a pan of water and simmer for 20 minutes. There should be no more water in the pan than is needed to simmer the fruits.
As they cook, mash them up a bit. After 20 minutes of cook time, add in the butter and the sugar until they are both dissolved well.
If there is any foam, skim it off.
Add the pectin and boil 60 seconds while you are stirring.
Remove from the heat and skim again if it is needed. If not, pour into jars and allow an entire day’s cooling.
- 5 pounds muscadine grapes, halved*
- 9 cups sugar
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- Squeeze pulp from grape halves into a bowl, reserving skins.
- Bring skins to a boil in a large sauce-pan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until tender.
- Bring pulp to a boil in a saucepan; reduce heat to medium, and cook 20 minutes or until seeds separate from pulp. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into saucepan containing skins, discarding solids. Add sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, 2 hours or until thickened. Stir in vinegar and next 3 ingredients. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 225° to 230°.
- Ladle hot mixture into hot, sterilized pint-size jars, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands.
- Process in boiling-water bath 20 minutes. Serve with turkey, biscuits, or toast.
- *5 pounds of seedless red grapes may be substituted. Crush whole grapes slightly. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain mixture into a saucepan, discarding solids. Stir in sugar, and proceed as directed.
Where Does Muscadine (Vitis Rotundifolia) Grow?
How To Identify Muscadine (Vitis Rotundifolia)
Alternate, simple, cordate to orbicular, coarsely serrated, may be 3 lobed, 4 to 6 inches long, green above, hairless greenish yellow below.
Smooth, dark greenish brown, later developing vertical grooves.