Muscadines are more than fruit
By Deanna L. Lawlis/ Community Columnist
Living in the South, everyone knows that muscadine, or Vitis Rotundifola, is a species of grape that grows wild in rural settings, but for those of us who are lucky enough to have this amazing plant grow wildly on our property, we believe it’s more like finding the pot of gold under the rainbow.
Though the greenish fruit balls can be seen hanging this month from the muscadine vine, they are not harvestable until between September and October, when they are purplish-black in color and fall easily from the vine. Once ripened, their fruit is as sweet as a Concord grape with a plum like skin, and is perfect for eating straight from the tree. They can also be used to make Muscadine wine, juice and jam. However, this is not just a one purpose, one season plant. There is far more worth to the muscadine than just its fruit.
Crafting with muscadine vines
Once the muscadine plant loses its foliage and the green vines begin looking like dead vines with a woody trunk, a crafters paradise emerges just in time for Christmas decorating and gifting. At that point, muscadine vines can be easily manipulated into wreaths by weaving a long grapevine into a circular shape, and repeating this step three to five times for the desired effect. There are a million or so crafting ideas for Muscadine vines online that make affordable gifts: crosses (add ribbons), grape vine balls (add lights), baskets, birdhouses, etc. All of these would make incredible natural, handmade gifts for your loved ones this Christmas.
Pickling muscadine leaves
Another edible opportunity is presented when the muscadine leaves begin greening in Spring. The young grape leaves can be preserved for making a tasty Mediterranean dish called Greek Dolmades or Stuffed Grape Leaves, which is a perfect Spring meal when presented with a glass of muscadine wine from last Summer. Simply search online recipes for ‘pickling grape leaves.’ The leaves can be used as early as the next day and can be stuffed with a variety of options such as Seasoned Quinoa or Shredded Chicken. There are plenty of these delicious recipes online, just search recipes for “Stuffed Grape Leaves.”
The Scuppernong’s fruit, leaves, and vines can also be used in the same manner of the muscadine, as well as any other grape species. Now that you are aware of the many uses of the Muscadine plant, may you find your pot of gold under the rainbow.