Muscadines and Scuppernongs

On Sunday, the Professor went with me to the family farm, and we picked muscadines and scuppernongs.
It was a gorgeous day, and the fruit was heavenly, sweeter yet since we thought the late freeze killed any hope for grapes this year.
This is a very old grapevine. My grandfather planted these probably fifty years ago. There are a number of different varieties, some taken from his father’s farm in Roopville.
The Professor picked muscadines, the dark grapes, and I picked scuppernongs. We had more than twice as many muscadines as scuppernongs when we drove home, in part because there weren’t as many scuppernongs ripe but mostly because I am a slow, meticulous picker, sampling grapes along the way.
Both varieties are larger than a standard Concord grape, and their hulls are quite tough. But the fruit inside is an indescribable joy. Not cloying. But sweet and tart and soft. Sensual. You bite in, break the skin, suck the flesh, then spit out the hull and seeds, savor. My favorite fruit.
I saved some to eat, but mushed the rest into juice. I’m tempted to just drink the juice, but my plan is to make jelly. My grandmother gave me the most important tool in making jelly–a feed sack. Thank you, Gran! I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this. I feel like a real adult woman now.
First I juiced the scuppernongs. I poured them into the clean sack, put the sack into a large pan, and started mashing with my potato masher.
Scuppernong juice. Roughly 12 cups of fruit yielded 6 cups of juice.
Here’s muscadine juice–I have about 11 cups. I seem to recall it being purple the last time I made muscadine jelly, but now it is a muddy green. I saved some hulls too, to make hull preserves. I’ve never had these, but my uncle swoons at the thought of them, so I want to try them and give him some for Christmas. I wonder if it would be good on goose.
I’ve frozen the juice for now, since I won’t have a chance for a week or so to make the jelly. I’ll probably strain it once more before I do. Despite being really careful, I managed to get juice all over me. It’s times like these that I especially wish the Professor lived in Athens. I saved the squishings for the chickens. Can’t wait to see them cluck over them tomorrow.
[Edited to add: With dawn comes memory. You’re supposed to cook the grapes before squishing them. That would’ve made the muscadine juice purple. And more juice per grape. Not sure the jelly will work now, but will try and see. Now I just gotta figure how to squeeze more sleep into a week.]

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