Muscadine grapes originated in the southeastern region of the United States and, as you know, are quite commonly grown and celebrated right here in our area.

Muscadine grapes originated in the southeastern region of the United States and, as you know, are quite commonly grown and celebrated right here in our area.

They are about 1 1/2-inches in size and have a large, tough outer skin. They don’t grow in tight bunches like grapes, but in clusters of four or more fruits. They’re commonly used in jams, jellies, wines or any other recipes using grapes.

Muscadine grapes are an excellent source of dietary fiber -- you’ll get about 105 calories and 7 grams of fiber from a serving of 35 muscadines, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fruit and its juice are both sweet and fragrant. Muscadine juice has a high concentration of the cholesterol-lowering nutrient reservatrol, making it a healthy beverage choice if consumed in moderation.

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 muscadines? Here are some I found interesting.

Muscadine Pie

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 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 piecrust 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 Cobbler

2 pounds Muscadine grapes

2 cups sugar, divided

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

¼ teaspoon apple pie spice

½ cup butter or margarine

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

Remove skins from muscadines; reserve skins. Cook pulp and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5–10 minutes or until seeds loosen. Press mixture through a wire-mesh strainer, discarding seeds.

Return pulp mixture to saucepan; stir in reserved skins, lemon rind, and apple pie spice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender.

Melt butter in an 11x7-inch baking dish in a 350 °F oven. Stir together flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, and milk; pour over melted butter. Pour Muscadine mixture over batter.

Bake at 350 °F for 35 minutes or until golden. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Serves 8.

Muscadine Juice

3 pounds scuppernong or other Muscadine grapes, crushed

1 cup water

Bring ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Pour mixture through a double thickness of damp cheesecloth; discard solids.

Note: To serve as a juice to drink, stir in 1 1/4 cups sugar, and chill.

Best Muscadine Jam

5 lbs. Muscadine grapes or 5 lbs. scuppernong grapes

3 lbs. sugar

1 lemon

1⁄2-1 cup water

Prepare grapes by cutting partway through the skin and popping the pulp/seed capsule out of the hull. Put pulp into one pot and the hulls into another.

Simmer the pulp, covered, on low medium until soft enough to press through sieve or food mill ~ 10 minutes. Add just a little water if necessary to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, chop hulls very finely in the food processor and return to their pot. Add just enough water to make it possible to simmer without sticking. Cook slowly, covered, 10 minutes or until hulls are softened.

Peel lemon and chop peel finely. Use entire peel, including the white part, to ensure good jelling.

Juice the lemon.

Press pulp through a sieve or food mill to remove seeds. Stir sieved pulp into cooked hulls in a large pot. Add lemon juice and peel. Bring to a boil. Stir in sugar and return to a boil.

Simmer, stirring frequently until the jellying point is reached ~ 1-2 hours. Timing is approximate and will vary depending on conditions and the amount of natural pectin in the fruit. Check frequently. Pack into hot, sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Yields: 10-12 ½-pint jars. (This would make a great entry for the Lenoir County Fair).

Muscadine Syrup

2 1/2 cups purple Muscadine juice

2 tablespoons sugar

Bring Muscadine juice and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Cool completely (about 30 minutes). Store in refrigerator.

You can reach Tammy Kelly at 252-527-2191.