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Domesticated muscadines

From my years as a young’un, I have clear memories of picking strawberries by the gallon. Mama made strawberry preserves. Mama also made grape jelly, but for some reason I don’t have recollections of picking grapes wholesale for the kitchen. Wild muscadines, though, grew in lots of places at the edges of the woods, and I have climbed trees and foraged for them often enough. I rarely see wild muscadines anymore, but lots of people cultivate them.

I have never made grape jelly, maybe because I’ve never had enough grapes, and grape jelly isn’t my favorite. So what do you do when you have nice mess of grapes but not enough to preserve them? Answer: You eat them raw.

Muscadines are seedy. The only way I know to seed them is to squeeze them until the skin bursts. Unfortunately, most of the pulp comes out with the seeds. The skins are delicious, and no doubt the healthful qualities of grapes are where the color is — in the skins. If you then put the pulp in some cheesecloth and squeeze, you’ll get some juice. Lacking any method of squeezing the pulp really hard, too much of the juice is wasted.

Still, it was a nice breakfast.

The above grapes produced only a shot of juice.

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