Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Celebrate the Mighty Muscadine

Cooking with Tammy Kelly: Celebrate the Mighty Muscadine

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!
 
Generally, the Muscadine is used in jams, jellies, wines, or any other recipes using grapes. Many times I have had the honor of judging the Muscadine Cooking Contest component of the upcoming Muscadine Festival, and who knew how many recipes there are for Muscadine! Here are some of the most requested!

Scuppernong or Muscadine Grape Hull Pie

(One of the 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 pie crust 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.

Muscadine or Scuppernong Cake

(This recipe is from the Duplin Winery)
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup wine Duplin’s Muscadine or Scuppernong Wine
1 box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup toasted pecans
Glaze
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup wine Duplin’s Muscadine or Scuppernong Wine
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cake mix, oil, eggs, wine & vanilla instant pudding. Beat at medium speed for 4 minutes. Stir in pecans. Bake cake for 50 minutes.

For glaze, bring all ingredients to boil at medium heat; boil 5 mins. Pour 1/2 of glaze over hot cake immediately while cake still in the pan. Wait 10 minutes and pour remaining glaze over cake after removing from pan.

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 a cheesecloth-lined colander into the bowl. Chill or proceed with jelly making. Yields 2 quarts.  

Muscadine Brown Betty

6 cups of Scuppernongs/muscadines
1.5 cups of sugar
A teaspoon or two of flour
For Brown Betty:
     1/2 cup of Bisquick
     1 cup of brown sugar
     1 cup of butter/margarine
 
6 cups of Scuppernongs/muscadines - separate the skins from the seeds by just squeeze them so the seed locule and interior pop out. Put the hulls in one bowl or pan and the insides in another.
 
Cover the hulls with water, as little as possible, and cook low heat until tender. With old varieties, this could be up to 30 minutes. With new varieties grown at The Happy Berry, that are vine ripe, this can be a very short time. Until you get experience put a few extra in the pan or bowl and sample at periods. Some have told us that this step is unnecessary with new varieties. Add/dissolve 1.5 cups of sugar to the hulls.
 
With a colander strain the interior of the berries into the hull mixture to remove the seeds. You want everything but the seeds. Simmer to thicken. A teaspoon or two of flour can be added to/during thickening to thicken.
 
For Brown Betty: Use 1/2 cup of Bisquick plus 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of butter/margarine and fork this mixture together till it is crumbly. Spread crumbly mixture over cobbler dish.

For Pie, Cobbler or Brown Betty: Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

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