Picking ScuppernongsTuesday, October 05, 2010
Last year, we went to Wenker's Vineyard in Albertville and picked muscadines. It was such a great experience that this past weekend, we went back to do it again, especially since the baby is big enough to really join in.
We pulled up and a sign read that "U-pick" was closed for the year. Now, on their website, it says that they are open for picking seven days a week between Labor Day and the end of October. Rather than turn around, I went inside to let them know (in a very nice way) that they should really change their website, considering that people like us did and will drive a long distance - with small children - only to end up disappointed.
I was told that they didn't change the website because there's a lot of drama going on with how it gets updated and so on & so forth...not really what I wanted to hear. Apparently all the muscadines had been picked in September. But just as I was about to leave, the gentleman's wife (co-owner) came out and said that if we had any interest in picking scuppernongs (which are, to me anyway, muscadine's green-hued cousin) that we could go down aisle 8 and pick those. Well, sure! The boys don't care if they're picking green or purple, and I'm ready to make anything out of anything, so off we were with a basket for each boy:
They had a great time!
We got home and I made scuppernong chess pie. The scuppernong flavor is there, but really-really not over the top at all. Here's the recipe:
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup scuppernong juice
2 regular (not deep-dish) pie crusts
--This is a great chess pie recipe, if you make the milk 3/4 cup rather than 1/2 cup and omit the juice altogether. That's why I'm putting the recipe here.--
Preheat oven to 350*. In the Kitchenaid, combine the butter and sugar. Add each egg one at a time until each is incorporated well. Add the milk, juice, and salt:
((I took 1-1/2 pints of scuppernongs and hulled them (meaning I just pinched the skins enough for the pulp and seeds to come out), mashed them in a sieve, and made about 3/4 - 1 cup of juice, much more than needed even for this recipe. You can add the extra juice to a small saucepan, add sugar to taste, and make a nice sauce for another dish, if you like.))
Baked for 15 minutes at 350* then lower the temperature to 315* for another 35-45 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes) until set - no jiggle in the middle:
It's best the next day - I kept them both, covered, in the refrigerator. Here's the first slice. Nice:
Now -- I do want to be honest here. This was a nice slice of pie, and if you serve it and don't say the word 'scuppernong' then your guests are most likely going to just think they are having chess pie. Which - to change this back to 'regular' chess pie, you just omit the 1/4 juice and make the total milk in the recipe to 3/4 cup. All that to say, this is a great way to use your scuppernongs. And it's a great way to make a lemon- or lime- flavored chess pie by substituting whichever kind of juice you like in the recipe.
Scuppernongs also make a nice jelly (I made muscadine jelly last year, here) and the best thing I've made so far since we've brought these home is:
A baguette I sliced up, sauteed in a little butter, scattered with some Belle Chevre goat cheese, and a little bit of scuppernong jelly:
*That* was great.