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SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

It's muscadine season in South Carolina.

Posted 10/8/2012 1:24:00 PM

It’s finally fall in South Carolina, and that means a lot of things. Football games are finally comfortable, the crowds at the beach are smaller and it’s muscadine time.

Muscadines are a type of grape native to the southeastern U.S. They start coming in around late August and are available through October. The greenish or bronze colored muscadines are called scuppernongs.

They are large, thick-skinned, seeded grapes that typically are picked like berries. They are most often greenish-bronze, but also can be black.

If you are going to eat them fresh, remember the thick skins are not tasty (something you learn as a child around these parts and never forget). If you put the stem hole in your mouth and squeeze from the bottom of the grape, you will get a burst of sweet goodness. You will probably want to spit out the seeds, though it won’t kill you to swallow a few.

One of the best places to go muscadine picking is The Happy Berry (864) 868-2946, 510 Gap Hill Road, Six Mile. The Happy Berry is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-6 on Sunday.

This pick-your-own fruit farm is located on Lake Keowee in Pickens County. Other crops include blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, grapes and figs, which are still available in limited quantities if you are the early picker. The fine folks at the Happy Berry also will pick for you, but that’s not much fun.

Here in South Carolina, you know all fruit can be added to a flour/butter/sugar mixture and turned into a cobbler. So, too, the muscadine. Here is a recipe for muscadine cobbler from the South Carolina Agriculture Department:

2 pounds muscadine grapes
2 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup self-rising Adluh 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 degree oven. Stir together flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, and milk; pour over melted butter. Pour muscadine mixture over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden. Serve with ice cream, if desired. Yield 8 servings.