Local Food Newsletter – September

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Welcome to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center Local Foods Newsletter! This month’s edition will be focused on Muscadine grapes. Enclosed you will find fun facts on Muscadine grapes including: the history of Muscadine grapes, trellis information, planting tips, proper pruning, nutritional information, tasty recipes, and more! This newsletter also includes an interactive map that is linked to Google maps. Users can click on their desired local foods operation and be given directions to the business. Following the map is a quick-reference table containing the local businesses in the area that sell local Muscadine grapes and grape products. Don’t forget to check out our upcoming local food class for cooking and gardening with container greens! For email reminders of future Local Foods newsletters, fill out this short form.

pics of fruits and veggies in season-September

Food Highlight

Fun Fact. This month’s highlighted local food is Muscadine grapes. Muscadine grapes are often referred to as “Scuppernongs”, after the area in which they were found. The first recognized muscadine cultivar was bronze in color and was found before the 1760s by Isaac Alexander in Tyrrell County, NC. It was first known as the ‘Big White Grape’, and was later named ‘Scuppernong’. With time, the name scuppernong became generic with all bronze muscadines, regardless of the actual variety name. However, this is incorrect nomenclature, since ‘Scuppernong’ is only one of many cultivars of muscadine grapes.

Muscadine grapes are native to the Southeastern United States and have been cultured for more than 400 years. Native Americans preserved muscadines as dried fruit long before the Europeans inhabited this continent. As early as 1565, Captain John Hawkins reported that the Spanish settlements in Florida made large quantities of muscadine wine. For much of the history of the crop, varieties were simply selections from the wild.

muscadine grapes

Trellis. Before planting, Muscadine grapes should be trellised. Many types of trellising have been used successfully, but an equal number have been designed that have not been practical for long-term management of vines. A practical system allows for establishing permanent cordons (arms) that can be easily reached for the required annual pruning (Image below). This requires training of the cordons to single strands of wire (No. 9 is recommended). A single wire 5 to 6 feet above the ground and well anchored on each end is the easiest trellis to construct and maintain. For a double wire system, four-foot cross arms of 2 x 6 inches, treated lumber, can be attached to treated posts to support double wires. A double-wire system will yield about 30% more than the single-wire system.

trellis diagram

Planting. Vines should be planted when there is little chance of sub-freezing temperatures in the spring. Potted plants are easier to hold until the proper planting time, but bare-root plants are satisfactory if the roots are kept moist (not wet), and the plants are refrigerated until planting time. Plant at the same depth or slightly deeper than the previous planting depth. Vines should be a minimum of 10 feet apart in the row, but more desirably, 20 feet apart. Distance between rows can depend on the equipment used for mowing, but 8 feet should be a minimum.

Pruning. After planting, prune to one stem and cut this stem back to 2 or 3 buds. When new growth begins, select the most vigorous shoot and cut away the others. A bamboo-training stake beside the plant is convenient for attaching the growing vine. Loosely tie the shoot to the stake. Paper-covered wire ties that are wrapped around the vine and stake work well but to avoid girdling, do not twist the ties. Continue tying the vine each week and removing side shoots. When the vine is just below the wire, cut the growing tip to force lateral buds. Shoots from the lateral buds should be trained down the wire to form the cordons, just as the trunk was trained up the stake. The goal should be to get the vine on the wire the first growing season and to full length in the second season. After the cordon has developed to full length, side shoots can be allowed to develop. These side shoots should be cut back to 2 or 3 buds during the dormant season. The next season, the buds on these side shoots will develop into shoots that produce flowers and fruit (before and after image below). Each dormant season, the lateral shoots must be cut back to 2 or 3 buds by hand or with a hedge trimmer.

grape trellis before and after pruning

Cooking Spotlight 

Nutritional information. Muscadines are a good source of fiber and rich in manganese. They are beneficial for digestion, bone production, skin health, blood sugar control, and preventing oxidative damage to cells. They are also among the richest fruits in antioxidants, which makes them a great snack for kids and adults. You can eat the entire fruit, however, some people prefer to squeeze the skin and pop the pulp into their mouth as well as spitting out the seeds. Others eat the whole berry- skins, seeds, and pulp. Try different varieties of muscadine and different ways of eating them to see which you prefer.

child holding grape

Muscadine Smoothies and Popsicles

Muscadines have thick, fleshy skins, and most cultivars have seeds. The whole fruit provides the most nutrition and can be delicious if all of it is used. If a high-powered blender is available, use the entire fruit; otherwise, use the pulp mixture that has been cooked and run it through the food mill. Popsicles can just be frozen smoothies, so the recipes below can be used for either liquid or frozen treats! Add all of the ingredients to the blender, mix, and enjoy!

Summer Smiles

1 quart of muscadine grapes

1 pint of North Carolina blackberries

2 North Carolina peeled peaches

1 peeled banana

Awesome Sauce

1 quart of muscadine grapes

3 sliced apples

2 celery stalks

1 cup of plain yogurt

Honey to taste

Happy Dance

1 quart of muscadine grapes

1 cup chopped melon

1⁄4 cup mint leaves

Lime juice to taste (1 to 3 tablespoons)

Honey to taste

Upcoming Local Foods Event

Join us for one of our local foods cooking and gardening classes. Registration is now available on our website so go ahead and reserve the date on your calendar.

Cooking and Gardening with Container Greens 

Do you love eating greens picked fresh from the garden? Got a bumper crop of them and don’t know what to do? Well, this is the class for you! The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center is having a “Gardening and Cooking with Container Greens” class on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration and a class fee of $20.00 are required.

This interactive map contains many of the businesses in Currituck that sell local produce. To view the map legend, click the small square box at the left of the map name. This should bring up a list of the direct sale markets, pick-your-own operations, roadside markets, vineyards and breweries, and N.C. seafood operations on the left. You can then click on the pins on the map or on the legend to view each local business. Each listing will contain a contact number, operating season and hours, and produce the business sells. If you click the View in Google Maps option below the description you will be given directions to the business from your current location.

Highlighted Businesses

The highlighted business section shows the businesses that sell the month’s highlighted local food. This month we have eight businesses that will be open and selling Muscadine grapes or grape products. Information on those businesses can be found in the table below, or in the interactive map above.

Name Phone Hours Address
Soundside U-Pick Grapes None M-Su, 8 a.m.–sunset 706 Poplar Branch Rd, Grandy
Martin Farm and Winery (252) 429-3564 Vary please call 213 Martin Farm Ln, Knotts Island
Seaside Farm Market (252) 619-8285 M-Su, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. 787 Sunset Blvd., Corolla
Tar Heel Produce (252) 491-8600 7 a.m.–6 p.m. 6954 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Powell’s Roadside Market (252) 339-9923 7 a.m.–8 p.m. 2138 Caratoke Hwy, Moyock
Grandy Greenhouse & Farm Market (252) 453-2658 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m. 6264 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Morris Farm Market (252) 453-2837 9 a.m.–6 p.m. 3784 Caratoke Hwy, Maple
Sanctuary Vineyards (252) 491-2387 M-Su,10 a.m.–6 p.m. 7005 Caratoke Hwy, Jarvisburg

For email reminders of upcoming Local Foods newsletters, fill out this short form. If you have a local food operation you would like advertised in upcoming installments, please fill out our producer form or contact Adam Formella by email or phone at Adam_Formella@ncsu.edu or 252-232-2262.