Scuppernongs are a green-gold variety of the sweet and fragrant muscadine grapes that grow in parts of the South. The house I called home until I was an adult had a glorious Scuppernong arbor in the backyard. Picking the thick-skinned, seed-laced grapes became a family affair each September. With a bowl in hand and my feet on a stool, even as a child, I treasured those grapes as much as gold. The sweet but slightly sour aroma that marked the beginning of fall will forever be in my memory.
- 3 qt. ripe Scuppernong grapes (about 5 lb.)
- 2 cheesecloth sheets
- 4-6 8-oz. canning jars with two-piece lids
- 2 1⁄2 to 3 1⁄4 C sugar
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1 1 3⁄4-oz. package powdered pectin
- Wash Scuppernongs; place in a 6-qt. stainless-steel or enameled Dutch oven, or other large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Add 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently, 20 minutes or until most of seeds have been released from pulp, crushing Scuppernongs with a potato masher to slip skins from pulp.
- Rinse cheesecloth, and wring out excess water. Line a large colander with cheesecloth. Set colander over a large bowl or pot. Pour Scuppernong mixture into cheesecloth, and let stand at least 1 hour. Measure liquid (you should have about 41⁄2 cups), and return to Dutch oven, discarding solids.
- Sterilize jars, and prepare lids as described below.
- While jars are boiling, add 3⁄4 cup sugar for each 1 cup juice to Scuppernong juice in Dutch oven. Add lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Sprinkle in pectin, stir well, and return to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let stand until boiling subsides. Skim foam from surface with a metal spoon, and discard.
- Fill and process jars as described below. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Let stand at least 1 week before serving to allow jelly to fully set. Serve on biscuits or with Brie and crackers, if desired.Hands-on Time: 45 min. Total Time: 1 hr., 41 min., plus 1 week standing time
To prepare for canning: Use only glass jars specifically designed for home canning, and two-piece lids. Jars and lid rings can be reused, but you must use new flat lids, which can be purchased separately. Be sure that jars, rings, and lids are clean, and that the jars are undamaged, the rims free of chips. To sterilize jars and prepare lids: Put the jars on a rack in the bottom of a large pot and cover with water. (You can use a specially designed canning pot or any large stock pot as long as it has a rack to hold the jars off the bottom and is deep enough that they can be covered with water and not overflow when the water boils.) Cover the pot and bring to a full boil. Boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize the jars, then lower the heat and keep at a brisk simmer until the preserve or jam is ready. Put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl; make sure they are not stacked tightly together. Just before filling the jars, ladle simmering water from the canning pot into the bowl to cover the lids. Keep the rings handy, along with a wide-mouth funnel, the ladle for filling the jars, a thin plastic utensil for removing air bubbles, a jar lifter, and a clean paper towel. Put a clean folded towel on the counter near the canning pot, and a second folded towel on the counter in a nearby spot where the processed jars can be set to cool undisturbed. To fill and process jars of fruit preserves, jams, and jellies: Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the simmering water, carefully pouring the water inside them back into the canning pot, and place the jars upright on the first towel. Put the funnel in a jar and ladle in the preserve, jam, or jelly, keeping the ladle low and close to the opening of the funnel to prevent excess bubbles from forming in the jars. Repeat to fill the remaining jars. If necessary, use a thin plastic utensil to remove air bubbles around the outside of the jar. Dip the paper towel in hot water and use it to wipe the jar rims and threads of any dripped preserves. Drain the water from the flat lids back into the canning pot. Quickly place a lid, white side down, on each jar, then screw on the rings just finger tight—do not over-tighten. Using the jar lifter, return the jars, upright, to the rack in the canning pot and make sure they are covered with water by at least 1 inch. Cover, increase the heat, and bring the water to a full boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, uncover the pot, and let stand until the boiling has subsided. Using the jar lifter, remove the jars to the second folded towel, upright, and let cool completely, at least 6 hours. Check to make sure each jar has sealed: If the center of the flat lid cannot be pushed down with your finger, it is sealed; if it depresses and pops up again, it is not sealed and the jar should be refrigerated immediately and the contents used.
Store sealed jars in a cool, dark spot; they will keep for at least 6 months and up to 1 year. Copyright 2012 Rebecca Lang from Around the Southern Table (Oxmoor House, 2012) by Rebecca Lang.