Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Like much of the Eastern U.S., we received a bit of snow Sunday and Monday. Naturally I was too sick to get out and take advantage of all the wonderful photo opportunities, however I did muster enough energy to drag myself onto the front porch to take this picture. This is a tiny cove which is nothing but mud during low tide. Those dead vines in the lower right hand corner used to be muscadine grape vines. Well, they still are muscadine grape vines, but they no longer produce, much to my chagrin. If, like me, your screen wasn't manufactured in this century, double click on the photo to enlarge for a better view of the vines.
Muscadine grapes are quite possibly the sweetest, most delectable grapes ever produced by Mother Nature. Growing up, the Chesapeake Bay Sisters had muscadines growing right in their yard, just steps from their garage. These vines were very prolific, although they were confined to one particular section of our shoreline (shown above).
I remember waiting most impatiently for those big green globes to turn a deep purple, almost black, meaning they were ready to be savored. Their one big seed (or pit, as they say up North) was a very small price to pay for the explosion of sweetness and flavor these grapes provided. The best part of all was the skin and the tiny bit of flesh right beneath it. Sheer perfection.
I don't see muscadines anymore. The vines we used to scour in our youth are now dead. (By the way, we used to call them muscaDIMES sometimes because it just came more naturally...some people still call them that; these are the very same people I keep referring to who say chimbley instead of chimney. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Arguably.)
For more background on the very best grape ever, Wikipedia provides the following.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are a grapevine species native to the present-day southeastern United States that has been extensively cultivated since the 16th Century. Its recognized range in the United States extends from New York south to Florida, and west to Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. 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.
The muscadine berries range from bronze to dark purple to black in color when ripe. 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 grapes are rich sources of polyphenols and other nutrients studied for their potential health benefits. Reports have indicated that muscadine grapes may contain high concentrations of resveratrol — a polyphenol with reported beneficial health effects — and that wines produced from these grapes, both red and white, may contain more than 40 mg/L of resveratrol. However, subsequent studies have found no or little resveratrol in different varieties of muscadine grapes.
Chesapeake Bay Woman (Womanus Sickus) again.
Have y'all heard of persimmons? We had 3 persimmon trees near the house growing up, one of which was right next to the grape vines in the photo above. Between the muscadines and the blackberries in the summer, then the persimmons in the fall, the Chesapeake Bay children could pretty much frolic from bush to bush, tree to tree, vine to vine nibbling all day long. (Although with the persimmons you would never pluck one from the tree unless you wanted your mouth to turn inside out. Rather you'd wait for the soft, perfectly sweet ones to drop onto the ground.)
We didn't know what a fruit roll-up was, and I'd lay money that even if we'd had them we'd have preferred what was growing in our own back yard.
I miss those muscadines.
I also miss the lining of my upper respiratory tract.
CBW (Congested, Broken-Down, Weak)