Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Muscadine Grapes

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)


Angela said...

Too bad they need hot summers and all that climate, your muscadimes! You made my mouth water, I love grapes. We THOUGHT that our climate was changing for the better, with global warming and all, but this year`s winter just laughed at us like Santa Claus. So, no peaches and vino here. Just, well, sweet strawberries, plums for plum cake, pears, apples, big wild blackberries AND SO ON! You might have Mathews, but we have Heringsdorf. Oh yes, not to forget the herrings and flounders!

mmm said...

I try to have a glass of polyphenols and resveratrol everyday; sometimes a glass and a half; even two, when it's allowed. The darker the better.

Please tell us you're feeling better today, CBW.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I think it's "FROOT" roll-up. As in "Froot Loop." Made from the FROOT of some special vines that grow only in the imaginations of children.

Mental P Mama said...

All that talk about the grapes makes me just want wine. Do I need to come down there and take you to the doctor?

Caution Flag said...

Okay, fine. I'm trying to think of what we have in Detroit that you don't have. I'm thinking...

Grandma J said...

That photo is from your porch? That does it...rain or shine (or snow) I'm sleeping on your porch when I come to the blog fest. I have dibs!

Get better! You are making me very nervouse with this flu/bronchitis.

Anonymous said...

OK, so you guys had a big crop of reservatrol in the back yard and the Fountain of Youth bubbling up in the front ditch? This explains a lot.

Feel better, CBW!


cats said...

Grapes and persimmons. I remember them well when I was a child. My neighbor also had a fig bush. Every August when those delectable figs ripened to perfection, we would go over and eat them and mother would make fig preserves. If you have never had fig preserves, you don't know what you're missing. It is a wonderful treat on warm toast.

TSannie said...

Feel better soon! I remember eating wild grapes as a kid, but have no idea what they were.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Angela - I didn't hear anything other than flounder. Fried flounder. With hush puppies. OK, let me get back on track. You're very fortunate to have all of that fruit, especially the plums. We have a few apple trees and one pear tree but oh, to have plums. Love them.

MMM - Me too on the polyphenols and resveratrol. (I am indeed feeling better, finally.)

Meg - Ah, Froot. I believe those froot vines can be found growing in the same sea that krabs swim in. Froot goes very well with cheez which, as you know is used to make cheez-its.

MPM - If I hadn't started feeling better I'd have gone to the doctor. But at this juncture antibiotics would not speed things along any faster than letting the thing take its course, she says, acting like she knows what she's talking about.

Caution Flat - Motown...GM...Isn't the artist formerly known as Prince from Detroit? I confess that during college I was a bit of a Prince fanatic. Saw him twice in concert, was not disappointed.

GJ - There's a wicker couch and two chairs out on that porch - we could rig something up for you.

AMN - Yes, but we didn't discover the fountain of youth until we were too old to benefit from it!

Cats - Figs are delicious - had no idea they grew around here. Love them.

TSAnnie - If they were dark purple and very sweet I'd wager they were muscadines. Heavenly.

Have a good evening, and sanitize everything. That flu bug is NASTY.

Autumnforest said...

www.tytyga.com has the vines for sale (male and female). They sound fantastic. I was growing black grapes here in AZ, but have had to stick to Mediterranean grown grapes to get them to grow in our climate--plain old flame seedless, but I do recall eating muscadines as a kid in a neighbor's hard in Newpoint. Wow! There really isn't anything to compare it with. I wonder what kind of raisins those would make? Yes, I agree about persimmons--they must be very mushy ripe or you pucker like a blowfish. I hope you're getting better. There's a winter wonderland to photograph and you are our eyes! Take care.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Autumn - You've described the persimmon very well. There's nothing quite like that puckered- mouth feeling with a not-so-ripe persimmon. It was always best to scour the ground for the ones that were so ripe they'd fallen off the tree. So glad to know you experienced the muscadines here in Mathews. I wonder if the vines you tapped into are still there?

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

My aunt had a trellis with muscadine grapes growing and like you I loved picking and eating them. They were wonderful!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Lizzy - Thank you for commenting. I am happy to hear that you know first-hand how perfect those grapes are.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

One last comment before I officially sign off, and that's that I took about 6 shots of this same scene during my feverish moments, and this particular one was the only one that caught the water drop falling from the icicle. On my circa 1934 monitor it is impossible to see it, but hopefully it is apparent to others with non-dinosaur-age equipment.

phyl said...

Yummy Muscadine Grapes and blackberries. I miss them. I had wine from those grapes recently. Outstanding!
Hope you are feeling better!

foolery said...

Time to plant new vines! I picture you barefoot in bloomers and a head scarf rolling around in a vat of grapes with Ethel.

I'm not far from the mark, am I?

MommyTime said...

I love muscadine grapes -- and persimmons. What a great thing to have all of that in your back yard. We have raspberries. But not many of them. I grew up with gardenias, which are not edible of course, but which smell like heaven.

John Socrates Loyola said...

Well, I have heard some information about Muscadine Grapes, but your article seem to be complete and accurate, great job! For more information about grapes and grape growing, visit this link: http://goinggrapes.com/