Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wild Muscadine Picking and Juicificationating

I was out back, trimming some branches last week when I happened to look up and notice the wild muscadine vines.
They were sagging under the weight of their fruit.
Sunday morning, I grabbed a colander and went a pickin'.

After all the easy low ones were picked, I activated the grapepickerelevatorial device and ascended into the trees where luscious clumps of darkly sweet fruit awaited.

The muscadine family isn't big on clustering so these groupings are about as good as it gets. They also don't all ripen at the same time in a cluster ... often ... but for some reason this year most of the clusters were at the same point of ripenicity.
That was much appreciated, because muscadine picking can be much like blueberry picking where you spend a lot of time picking individual fruits.

Here's a nice set.

After a while, I had a full colander and now the question was ... what the heck am I gonna do with all these wild grapes?
I was not motivated to make jelly, wine, or other labor intensive dishes, so I decided on juice.
Yes, juice would be fine and it had the added benefit of being a stepping stone to those other dishes should I feel inspired later.

The first thing I did was wash the grapes well under warm water to remove critters, twigs, leaves, etc.
Then I put the grapes in a large pot and added just barely enough water to cover them. This pot was allowed to simmer for about 20 minutes.During this time, I used a hand potato masher thingie to crush as many of the grapes a I could. When the mashing and simmering was complete, I allowed the pot of grapes to just sit and cool down for awhile.

When the blue pot had cooled, the grape mush was poured through a cone-shaped colander so the juice could drain into a bowl. I used a plastic spoon to force as much of the juice as possible through the strainer.

The grapes produced a nice amount of juice which I poured into a container to store in the fridge.

The guidelines said the juice would settle and separate overnight, but the next morning it was still beautifully colored ... which is just fine with me.

This morning, I took my first real sampling taste of the end product and it was delicious. Not as sweet as store bought grape juice, but really, really good.
And just look at all those dark phyto-pharmaceuticals in that glass ... gotta be good for ya.
From this point, I could make syrup, jelly, or wine ... with a little more kitchen work.
I think I may just drink it though.
It's that good.


Dani said...

What a great idea! Hopefully, come next year my grapes will be producing like yours.

cinbad122 said...

I wonder who would like to sample that fine juice???

Heff said...

Awesome post.

My Culinary Challenge post will be up on Friday, because I schedule my posts for certain dates, but I'll check back and see what everyone else came up with on the 23rd.

Mark said...

We have 'em growing wild here and there. I love the small when they start falling. I'm not sure we have much of a crop yet, or even will. They are spread out so it would be hard to harvest an appreciable amount. But your juice makes me think I just might try.

Mark said...

I love the smell, not the small. I don't even know what that is.

lisa said...

Cheers:)!!! Looks good.

roger said...

wow. nice grapes. mmmmmmmmmm fresh grape juice. and very nice kitchen tools too.

Miz S said...

You're the Martha Stewart of Florida's Nature Coast!

Floridacracker said...

These are wild, are yours domesticated varieties? I have a couple of bronze scuppernong vines that I planted. They are not quite ripe yet.

I know who!

Cool! I'll link back to it on throwdown Sunday. Glad you liked the post.

The smell is intoxicating!

Drinking some right now!

you know how important the right tools are!

Miz S,
Aw, come on now, I bet she couldn't get a JEEP unstuck on her own.
... not because she's female, but because she's Martha.

robin andrea said...

Good job, fc. That juice looks delicious. My taste buds are appreciative from afar.

Sayre said...

So jealous!!! That looks delicious!

Floridacracker said...

Robin and Sayre,
Hey it was great. I have to pace myself because I want to drink it all.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Just reward ... (just be careful on that ladder!)

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the concern. This is just a little one.

Gin said...

Before your harvest gives out, try this. Put 1 cup of grapes in a clean quart canning jar, fill with boiling water and add a lid. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Take it out, put on the counter and wait one week (I never waited.) After a week, uncap, add sugar (if necessary) and drink. I used to make a hundred or more jars of concord grape juice this way each year. I always added 1/2 cup sugar before canning, but sounds like your grapes are so sweet, you wouldn't need to do this.

Bill said...

Do you have an arbor or are these just growing up a tree? How much sun do they require? I am always looking for something that I can grow in my big back yard. It is hard with all the darn oak trees.


Floridacracker said...

Thank you for that recipe! Gotta try it!

These are wild vines growing all over my oak trees in the back yard. Totally free of effort or care.
You could buy some muscadine vines. If your yard is shady, they are gonna climb for the sun so have your ladder ready for picking!

threecollie said...

Fantastic, I am hoping and hoping that we will get some of those brown grapes that came last year. Best jelly we ever made.

Floridacracker said...

Are they wild too?

Kimberlee said...

Those are some EXCELLENT looking berries! So fat and in such thick bunches. My mouth actually started to water as I viewed the photo of the juice in the last photo. I'm completely jealous...in a good way!

Just the Right Size said...

More power to you FC! Hubs and I don't like muscadine grapes at all, which is why we haven't made any wine with them. They're very gamey.

All you need now is some yeast and you'd be on your way! One gallon is a good start!

cinbad122 said...

Still waiting....but it's probably gone!

Floridacracker said...

They are wonderful and the fragrance is amazing.

Just Right,
Gamey? How can you not love these babies? Ever try the bronze scuppernongs?

Now you know I'd never let you down. Tomorrow.