How To Eat a Scuppernong, According to a Southern Transplant

·4 min read

Ah, the scuppernong. I've heard it's the stuff of Southern legend, being, as I am, a born-and-raised Californian, Bostonian by education, and Parisian by heart (and gap year). When I first stumbled across this muscadine while researching the South's best u-pick farms, I wondered what on earth. The name alone had me in near hysterics, and the only thing funnier was the conversation that ensued upon calling my local grocery stores (specialty and not) in California, where I'm working remotely until the end of the summer.

"The scupper-what?" all the clerks said. I'm pretty sure I sounded crazy. Someone who picked up the phone even pronounced it "scooper-nug," and I had to contain a chuckle for that one. But for all the amusements, it did not procure what I actually wanted, the grape itself. So, I dug through the archives and asked the Test Kitchen. Here are all the ways I've discovered you can eat a scuppernong—share your preferred snacking methods in the comments. And tell me, skin or no skin?

Scuppernong grapes
Scuppernong grapes

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Fresh or Frozen Scuppernong

There are few sadder things in life than a puny, shriveled grape. It's a non-committal raisin at best, and not nearly as sweet. But the scuppernong? To my shock, they are these bouncy, bulbous, only three-in-the-palm of my hand grapes. Like, yikes.

Though the skin is known to be tough and a little sour, the flesh of the scuppernong is juicy and plump. There seems to be a shared childhood experience in running through a relative's vines, pulling them off and eating as many as you could before being sick, so I must conclude that eating them plain is one of the best ways to eat this grape. But, may I propose that you try them frozen?

Frozen fruit has a cool, almost creamy consistency, and seeing that the scuppernong season runs in the late summer, a frozen grape is, depending on the sweetness, just as nice as a bowl of ice cream, and a lot healthier, too. I'd personally blanch the grapes and remove the skins and pit them before freezing…but we can hash out the skin or no skin preference in the comments. Pitting, however, would be a non-negotiable, as the seeds are large and bitter.

Scuppernong Wine

The scuppernong produces a wine often described as musky and wild. You'll find it at many wineries in the Southeast, usually in a sweet as opposed to dry style, but you can also always try your hand at making it yourself.

Some vineyards will sell muscadine must, which will set you up for at-home winemaking. The process is relatively simple but does require some patience.

If you want to have some real fun, though, make a cocktail, like this Mississippi Bourbon Punch. Tart cranberry juice meets fresh lime, syrupy sweet grenadine, and dry wine for a nice summery drink.

Scuppernong Juice

This is my preferred beverage, since I'm the one who goes to a bar and orders a Shirley Temple, and white grape juice beats purple any day, in my opinion. I like the clearer taste that doesn't weigh down my tongue, literally and figuratively, with a regal purple shade.

Scuppernong Jam, Jelly, Preserves, and Fruit Butter

I cannot say no to a good peanut butter and jelly, and definitely not if it's on a hot biscuit. I stick with jelly and fruit butter because I'm not overly fond of fruit chunks, but for the enthusiasts out there, jam and preserves are a tasty possibility. Hang out with me in the jelly camp with this recipe.

Scuppernong Pies, Skewers, and Tartlets—Oh My!

So apparently, scuppernongs are good for more than just a nightcap or a sandwich. Scuppernong pie, anyone? Or maybe these delightful fruit tartlets? They're not exclusively for desserts, though. As you fire up your grill for the summer, don't forget that scuppernong glaze is an option, and you're also going to want to try these shrimp and sausage skewers, which receive a healthy dousing of scuppernong wine before hitting the flames.