Muscadines are the darling of the grape world. Eating muscadine grape pearls is one of life’s luxurious pleasures. The grape pearls are soft and firm, not the mushy type. Biting into them releases an ocean of sweet juices, it fills your mouth and their crunchy skin and flesh only add to the pleasing culinary experience. Muscadine preserves are a great way of preserving whole muscadine pearls. Although this can be open for debate, some people say that nothing beats eating fresh muscadine grape pearls, while others would prefer the concentrated and developed flavors from preserving muscadines.
Muscadine Preserves Trivia
- Muscadine grapes are native to North America and are mostly found in North Carolina.
- Muscadines have long been used by Native Americans for food. They also used dried muscadines to make Cherokee dumplings.
Muscadine Preserves Buying Guide
Muscadine preserves are available in the condiments and jellies section of grocery stores and supermarkets. You can purchase either the commercially packed jellies or those produced by artisan families.
It’s best to buy muscadine preserves during the muscadine season to celebrate the blueberries’ prime flavors. Muscadine preserves also have an assortment such as with pectin, no pectin, all-natural, and low sugar. You can choose which one is best for your taste and preference
Muscadine Preserves Production & Farming in Texas
Sourcing for muscadine grape jellies wouldn’t be a problem since muscadine grapes are native to East Texas. They are cultivated in slightly acidic soils and can grow healthily since they are mostly resistant to pests and diseases. Muscadine grapes aren’t picky about weather and can tolerate the humid East Texas climate.
For beginners, it is essential to use deep, well-drained, and sandy soils when planting muscadines. They should never be planted on poorly drained soils. Otherwise, the crop yield will be compromised.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Fruit concentrate is a common ingredient for commercially produced muscadine preserves. It is usually made from the purest juices mixed with artificial sugars such as glucose or sucrose to sweeten it. Citric acid is also added to preserve its shelf life. Apple juice concentrate is great only when it’s naturally derived. Aside from the chemical additives of the commercially produced ones, a chemical aftertaste is also common and can interfere with the overall flavor of the muscadine preserves.
Muscadine preserves are one of the perfect edible gifts during the muscadine season. It’s best to package muscadine preserves in sterilized glass jars. Not only are they easy to store, but they are also reusable and environmentally friendly.
There are some muscadine preserves stored in plastic packaging. However, it’s not a visually pleasing packaging for the muscadine preserves. It dulls their appearance, making them look like they’re commercially made instead of a homemade product. There are also times when the plastic packaging for the muscadine preserves interferes with the taste and aroma of the apples infusing it with a plastic or chemical taste and aroma. That would be a very unpleasant fate for such a beautiful and natural treat.
Enjoying Muscadine Preserves
Muscadine preserves have a very unique and dignified flavor favored by high-society palates. They are usually a dip or component in a cheese platter or charcuterie boards or even grazing tables paired with an assortment of preserved meats, cheeses, and wine.
When making muscadine preserves, be sure to store them in sterilized glass containers. Before canning the jam, check the glass jars and discard those with cracks or chipped edges. Do not use metal lids with rust since they will be unsafe for canning production.
We would love to see your homemade muscadine preserves in beautiful glass jars. You can add some ribbons and stickers to elevate the look. Always remember to include the date of production when giving away muscadine preserves as a gift. This would also serve as additional information for your consumers and they will know when to best consume it before it spoils.
2 quarts muscadines or other wild grape, washed and stemmed
water, enough to cover the fruit
grated peel of 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sugar
sterilized glass jars with seals and rings available at the grocery store
- Begin by removing the skins from the washed and de-stemmed muscadines. Using a sharp knife, just slit the skin of the muscadine about halfway around and squeeze the pulp out. If you have muscadines that are not fully ripe, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes to make the process easier. The fruit I used was super ripe and the pulp slipped right out without blanching.
- Set the skins aside. Place the pulp in a large stainless steel or enameled pot, and then add enough water to cover it. It needed very little water, perhaps 1 cup, because the fruit was very juicy. You just need enough liquid to bring to a boil and stew the pulp. Cook the mixture over high heat, stirring as it cooks until the pulp is softened. This takes about 15 minutes.
- While the pulp is cooking, place the skins in a food processor and process them until chopped. The skins will not break down much when cooked, so you want to get the pieces as small as you can.
- When the pulp is through boiling, remove the pan from the heat and press the pulp through a coarse sieve or a food mill to remove seeds. Return the pulp to the large pot and add the skins, grated lemon peel, lemon juice, and salt and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the sugar and return to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer until mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Cooked the mixture for about 20 minutes. It should have thickened, but because it doesn’t contain any gelatin it never really set, don’t expect the end product to be like a jelly or jam.
- Now you are ready to pour the preserves into your jars. When you buy your jars you will find instructions inside the box for the proper way to sterilize and use them. Don’t be intimidated by this, it is not complicated. It is more common sense than anything else, but it is important to follow the instructions to prevent the glass from breaking or the contents from going bad over time.
- The preserve should be hot when you pour it into the jars and it is a good idea for the jars to be warm as well. You can keep them warm by placing them in hot tap water or your dishwasher on the dry cycle.
- When you pour the preserves into the jars leave about a 1/4-inch of headspace and carefully wipe off any residue from the jar mouths with a paper towel moistened with boiling water.
- Next, take a plastic knife or thin spatula and work your way around the space between the glass and the preserves to remove any air bubbles. Now cover the jars with seals and rings.
- At this point, you need to decide how you plan to store the muscadine preserves. If you plan to eat it immediately you can just put it in the refrigerator or you can freeze it to use later. If you want to keep it in the pantry or give it as a gift you will need to process the jars in a boiling water bath to make the seal tight. This procedure, also known as canning, is really quite simple especially if you purchase a water bath canner. This is a large pot with a lid and removable wire rack.