Monday, August 07, 2006

Pickled Scuppernong Muscadines

When I came across these oversized, green and bronze grapes in Chinatown (for $2.50/lb.) I thought them to be newfangled plum-grape hybrids from China. Not so: Scuppernong muscadines were first discovered by the early colonists along the Georgia and North Carolina coasts. They've been used to make wine and jams since the 17th century, but today, I'm going to make them pickles.
At a recent James Beard House dinner, chef Joseph Truex (of Georgia's Château Élan Winery & Resort) served these with smoked foie gras roulade with vidalia onion relish and cane sugar gastrique--the inspiration for the sugar cane vinegar, which can be purchased from

1 lb. Scuppernong muscadines
1 cup sugar cane vinegar (or Champagne vinegar)
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
8 allspice berries
1 Turkish bay leaf

Simmer all ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill a quart jar with washed muscadines and cover with hot pickling liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature, screw on lid, and refrigerate for at least two weeks (and up to one year).