Observant and lucky Floridians may have spotted grapevines growing wild in the parks and backyards of the Panhandle. WFSU brings us this report on wild muscadines. We teamed up with the Miccosukee Root Cellar to look at what they are, how to find them, and what to do with them.
Spotting the characteristic heart-shaped leaf of a wild grapevine is easy enough. Look for a woody, almost tree-like vine growing on bushes and trees at the edge of a sunny meadow. Just because grapevines are present, doesn't mean there will be grapes. Fruit production depends heavily on adequate sunlight, soil drainage and pruning, which isn't always adequate in wild settings.
Muscadines are delicious fresh, or preserved. Miccosukee Root Cellar Co-Executive Chefs Darin Kimberl and Erica Lippe had their hearts set on muscadine pickles, but we decided to bake a muscadine pie instead. We rendered the whole fruits down with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. A buttery, flakey pie crust balances the sweetness of vine-ripe grapes, and the spice blend lends a warm, autumn feel. The finished product feels like a Southern hybrid of cherry and apple pies. Adventurous home cooks can throw in some garam masala for kick.
There are a number of varieties of muscadines throughout the Southeast, growing as far north as Delaware and along the Gulf Coast into Texas. Muscadine season generally wraps up in September.