Picture your perfect morning. It might involve sipping coffee or tea on a front porch, gazing on to a beautiful stretch of land or body of water. Or perhaps your enjoying biscuits with jelly on a garden terrace surrounded by vine-covered trellises bearing juicy grapes on a crisp fall morning. While the latter image may sound like a far-fetched fantasy taken from a cliché romance novel set in Europe, this scene is not actually far out of reach here in the South, thanks to the muscadine grape.
Muscadines are a grapevine variety indigenous to the Southeast. Unlike other grape varieties, muscadines prefer to grow in a hot and humid climate. Just one grapevine can grow large enough to cover a trellis or wrap around an entire archway in a garden. Small, light green grapes begin to develop in the summer and mature to a shade ranging from bronze to black by the fall when they are ripe and ready for harvesting. When cared for properly, vines continue to produce a bounty of fruit season after season and can oftentimes grow throughout many generations of owners.
Muscadines make much more than a beautiful addition to a garden, however. Known for their distinct taste, they are traditionally used to make jellies, juices and wine, most often made according to an old family recipe from multiple generations back. Unfortunately many of the recipes don’t make it beyond the family circle and many people are still unfamiliar with the muscadine and its unique, sweet flavor.
Recognizing a taste that is too good not to share, the folks at Stripling’s General Store are delighted to introduce muscadines to those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying them by offering their Muscadine Jelly and Muscadine Preserves. Stripling’s works closely with a small, local producer that uses muscadines harvested at the peak of ripeness to maintain the full flavor of the grape in their jelly and preserves.
Made from the juice of the muscadines, Stripling’s Muscadine Jelly has a smoother consistency than the preserves. Whole grapes are first boiled in water creating a thick juice, which is then pressed through a sieve in multiple rounds to remove the pulp from the liquid resulting in a smooth jelly with an even consistency. Jelly’s thicker counterpart, Stripling’s Muscadine Preserves retains part of the texture of a muscadine picked right off the vine by incorporating the cooked skins and pulp into the final product.
Sweet intertwined with tangy, Stripling’s Muscadine Jelly and Preserves perfectly capture the prized unique taste of the muscadine. Enjoy on a hot buttered biscuit, cracker or even on its own to experience the full flavor of the muscadine. Stripling’s Muscadine Jelly also makes a delicious glaze served alongside pork, chicken or vegetable dishes. The next time you need a relaxing day outside, pick up a jar of Stripling’s Muscadine Jelly or Preserves and imagine yourself surrounded by twisting muscadine vines while enjoying your delicious jelly.
Originally published Southern Distinction Magazine, April Issue: Home & Garden, Leisure, Health & Wellness