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Wild Grapevines Are All Around You. Here's What To Do With The Grapes.

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. 

https://youtu.be/EJe2Uv7lQDc

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.

As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.