Muscadines and Scuppernongs

Scuppernong
Scuppernong Grapes. Jennifer Causey/Moment/Getty Images

Muscadines, found in the Southeastern states, are American grapes 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 4 or more fruits. They're commonly used in jams, jellies, wines, and just about any recipe that uses grapes or grape juice.

The muscadine is actually a native American grape, Vitis rotundifolia. When Leif Ericson or Bjarni Herjulfson discovered America and called it Vineland, they might have named it that because they saw a bunch of muscadine vines.

Where did the name come from? When the early settlers arrived in America, they were familiar with the muscat grape, which is a French grape that is used in making muscatel wine. And the word muscat derives from the Latin muscus, which describes the smell of a male musk deer. The early settlers called the sweet, musk-scented wild grapes that they found here by the same name as the sweet grapes they had known in Europe, and that eventually became muscadine.

The scuppernong is a greenish, or bronze, variety of muscadine. At first it was simply called the Big White Grape. During the 17th and 18th centuries cuttings of the mother vine were placed into production around Scuppernong, a small town in North Carolina. The name Scuppernong originally comes from an Algonquin Indian name, Ascopo for the sweet bay tree. Ascupernung, meaning place of the Ascopo, appears on early maps of North Carolina as the name of a river in Washington County that runs into the Albemarle Sound.

By 1800 the spelling of the river had become Scuppernong. Soon the name of the town and river came to be applied to the grapes grown in the area. In this roundabout fashion, ascopo, the Algonquin word for sweet bay tree became scuppernong, the word for a variety of wild grape.

Muscadine wine is a very popular way to use these American grapes and they can also be used in to make jam, jelly, and sorbet.

See the recipes below for more.

 Recipes

Muscadine Pie This double-crust muscadine pie is made with the cooked hulls and strained juice, thickened with flour.

Scuppernong or Muscadine Jelly This is a jelly made without added pectin.

Kirk's Muscadine Wine A popular, flavorful wine made with many positive reviews and some helpful suggestions.

Muscadine Sorbet Sweeten this muscadine sorbet mixture with lemon juice and sugar, to taste and freeze it with an ice cream maker.

Scuppernong Jam This is an old fashioned no-pectin jam boiled to the gel point.

Muscadine-Honey Glazed Pork Chops  Muscadine juice and honey team up with barbecue seasonings in this recipe for glazed pork chops.