Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Saturday, August 28, 2010



In the fall I planted 2 "Ison" muscadine vines that I purchased at Edible Landscaping in Afton, VA. Muscadines, Vitus rotundifolia, are a native grape, adapted to the warm and humid conditions of the south. Unlike European wine or table grapes, they are not fussy and require far fewer winter chilling hours. Ison produces deep purple fruit: green-colored muscadines are called scuppernongs. It usually takes 3 years for most muscadines to go into full production, though I am getting a small amount of fruit this year. Muscadines are a vigorous vine, and they need occasional pruning and trellising-mine are growing (and beautifying) a chain link fence. Like most native grapes, the flavor is described as "foxy"- it is unusual and some say it is an acquired taste (but I acquired it right away and I'm a Jersey girl!) and it is seeded. The fruit can be made into wine, juice, jelly and preserves, or you can simply leave them for the birds! I make a one-crust pie with them as follows:

Apple-Muscadine Pie

1 pie crust
2 pie apples, sliced
2 c. muscadines, sliced in half and seeded.
3/4 c sugar or to taste
2 T minute tapioca as a thickener (optional)
pat of butter
1 t lemon juice

Line pie pan with crust- you can "blind bake" it if you like (bake it empty at 350 for 20 mins). I like to roll my pie crust out to a square and lay each corner over the filling to make a pattern on the top of the pie (not necessary) (I call this a "handkerchief crust."). In a separate bowl mix apples slices, muscadines, sugar, tapioca and lemon juice and let it sit 15 mins. Preheat over to 350. Add to pie crust, fold corners over to partially cover the top, and put the pat of butter in the center. Bake at 350 for 40 min or until bubbling and crust is browned. Variation: add some cranberries in fall for a different and interesting taste!

Happy gardening ! And eating!

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