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Scuppernong Jelly.

It’s that time of year again! Scuppernong picking season. Our vine is loaded down with lots of delicious grapes – one of the best harvests we’ve had in years. Coincidentally, it’s also one of the worst love bug seasons we’ve had in years, too. Huh, wonder if they’re connected in some way? Anyways, back to a more important subject 🙂

For those that aren’t in the know (let’s face it, not very many people outside the deep South have ever even heard of them), scuppernongs are a type of muscadine grape that is native to the Southeastern US. You’re probably more likely to have heard of muscadines than scuppernongs, especially if you’ve spent any time at all listening to country music (muscadine wine is a topic than many songwriters have waxed lyrical about, case in point, this song here or here or here or here or . . . there’s plenty more, but I’ll stop there). They’re known by various names, such as, sculpins, scupadines, scufadines, scupanons, etc. I grew up calling them scuplins (or scuplings, when I feel like enunciating).

What makes scuppernongs special from regular muscadine grapes (by the way, all scuppernongs are muscadines, but not all muscadines are scuppernongs, if that makes sense), is that they are a light greenish bronze color instead of purplish. Their taste is difficult to describe, but it’s similar to the grapes you would buy in the grocery store with a kinda of slight muskiness and tartness added in. The texture is also similar, but with a thicker skin and large seeds. When I was growing up, my cousins and I spent many a afternoon at my Granddad’s scuppernong vine enjoying skin and seed spitting contests. I was the youngest grandchild pitted against two older boy cousins and never managed to win (but I bet I could, now).

Drive down a country road this time of the year in my neck of the woods and you’ll see homes with scuppernong arbors in the yard and possibly even a homemade sign or two advertising the fruit for sale. They’re a hugely popular fruit around here with a deeply entrenched history in the South. Did you know, scuppernongs were first mentioned in 1524 in the logbook of Giovanni de Verrazzano while he was exploring North Carolina? Decades later, Governor Ralph Lane wrote to Sir Walter Raleigh, “We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and pleasant grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater. . .” Good stuff, huh?

Now, you may be wondering what you can do with scuppernongs. Well, you can make wine out of them (scuppernong wine was a particular favorite of Thomas Jefferson), preserves, baked goods, juice, syrup, jelly, or enjoy them fresh. One of my favorites is the jelly. . . warm biscuits just out of the oven with a little bit of scuppernong jelly is my version of heaven on Earth.

Which brings me to scuppernong jelly 🙂 So far, I’ve picked over 8lbs of scuppernongs this year, twice the amount I picked last year.

Of course, I just had to make some of those scuplins into jelly, right? It’d be a shame not to.

Ingredients:
6lbs of washed scuppernongs*
Water
1 box of pectin (plus a spare box in case you need it)
4 – 5 cups of sugar
*Our scuppernong vine produces the smaller variety, but I’ve seen some of the larger variety sold in stores in our area. If you use a larger scuppernong, you might want to reduce the amount you use. 

1) Place the thoroughly washed scuppernongs in a large pot and cover with water. Allow them to simmer for 20 minutes, all the while using a potato masher to pulverize the grapes. I consider this free therapy and a great way to work out all my frustrations, and you know me, I love anything free 🙂

2) Pour the cooked scuppernongs through a strainer into another pot. Use the potato masher to ensure you get as much of the juice as you can.

3) Bring the juice to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer.

4) Add the pectin to the juice and stir well until it’s all dissolved.

5) Bring to a boil again and stir in the sugar, allowing the mixture to come to a hard boil (or about 220F on a candy thermometer) for a full minute. Test to see if your juice has jellied using the instructions in your pectin box. If it hasn’t, add more pectin, stirring well to prevent it from clumping.

6) Skim any foam off the top of the juice, then pour into sterilized jars and crew the lids on. Place each jar in a large pot with enough water to cover them completely. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the water and dry off the jars. And enjoy!

 
This recipe made 10 eight ounce jars of jelly for me.
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Getting There.

I told my mom the other day that I hoped she was ready to do a lot of picking and putting up of fruits and veggies this year. As someone who has never had a green thumb, I’m so ready and over the moon about it 🙂

The Flordaqueen peach tree. 
One of the Rabbiteye bushes is loaded with little blueberries.
The scuppernong vine is full of little scuplings. In a few months, they’ll be much bigger and ready to pick. I’m really looking forward to making more scupling jelly this year, and maybe even trying my hand at scupling wine. 
No blackberries in my favorite spot, yet, but it won’t be too much longer.
And the Washington Navel Orange tree actually has little oranges setting on it for the first time!!
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Blossoming.

Look, the peach tree I planted last year actually has blooms on it. Yay!!! Maybe my thumb really is starting to turn green 🙂

Even better, the scuppernong vine that my granddaddy planted years ago is beginning to regrow its leaves (a big sign that warmer temps are here to stay). Very soon, it will no longer resemble a tangled mess of bare vines 🙂

Don’t know what a scuppernong is? Don’t worry, most people have never heard of them 🙂 But if you’ve ever listened to any country music at all, you’ve probably heard mention of muscadine wine. Well, scuppernongs (also called scuplings and various other names) are a type of muscadine grape that is native to the southeast. Did you know, Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wine was scuppernong wine. Pretty neat, huh?

To top it all off, the fig tree I planted last year has started to fill out, too (Sorry, didn’t take pictures of it). My grandparents had the most amazing fig tree behind their house in town when I was growing up. Every summer, my mom and I would pick the figs (funnily enough, we’re both allergic to fig leaves and would end up broken out for days afterward) and help Grandma put up preserves. Even with the itchiness, it’s something I’ve truly missed, so I’m super thrilled about the prospect of having our own figs again in the future.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

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A look back at 2012.

Our internet has been out for almost a week and I missed it so much. I often think I was born in the wrong century and would love to have lived in a past century, but at times like the the past week without a strong connection to the outside world, I’m more than grateful to be alive now and have the internet.

I had a couple of posts I was planning on doing and I’ll eventually get them up, but for now, let’s look back at 2012:

January
January started not-so-great with one of the peahens, Indra, coming down with a case of sinusitis. With a little TLC, she quickly recovered. Then, on to Betty White’s 90th birthday. I’m a super avid Golden Girls fan, and couldn’t let Rose’s milestone birthday pass without celebrating it on here. And as Sophia said, “After 80, every year without a headstone is a milestone!”

February
The warmer weather of February led to the animals acting up a little. First, there was the escaping buckling, Solomon, then one of the young geese, Ben, decided to go broody after only laying a few eggs (Personally, I think maybe she’s spent a little too much time visiting the Silkies and their bad habits have rubbed off on her). Ben, by the way, was broody off and on all year long after that and is currently setting on duck eggs. To cap February off, the ducks finally discovered the pond at the bottom of the hill, we celebrated my mom’s birthday, and I shared a few Southernisms with y’all.

 
The Scovy boys enjoying the pond a few days ago.

March
March began with the ducks being a little naughty and taking an excursion to the creek that borders our property. Then, I shared a few more Southernisms, Ben’s eggs hatched out (really, they were the Toulouse’s eggs, but, she tended to those goslings like they were hers, so we didn’t bother telling her), and we made our first batch of soap. Back then, I never would have thought that soap making would become a new obsession, especially with how nervous I was that first time.

Our very first batch of soap.

April
April was so much fun. The peahens laid our very first pea eggs, I set several Pilgrim and Sebastopol eggs, and my sweet bottle baby, Penelope, had a little buckling we named Peter. Peter, by the way, still thinks he’s a baby and is the first to greet me every morning when I go out.

My little grandson, Peter.

May
The fun continued on in to May, with the Pilgrim and Sebastopol eggs hatching out. Of the three Pilgrim ganders that hatched, we ended up keeping Otto and of course, the lone Sebbie to hatch, Blueberry. A few days later, another Sebastopol, Henry, joined our flock. Then, came the bottle babies, Marcy and Renny (boy, was that a ton of work, but I miss them – they now happily live a few miles away at their new home together).

Blueberry and Otto a few weeks ago.

June
In June, we celebrated Remy and Verity’s birthdays and calamity struck when I knocked over an incubator full of eggs (Uh Oh!).

Remy as a puppy. Oh, how miss those days lol. 

July
July was HOT! I made soy candles for the first time, returned to soap making after taking a little break, I learned a new use for pine sap, and I realized I haven’t done nearly as much traveling as I dreamed of doing as a teenager.

 

August
In August, we learned how to tell if you’re from Alabama, added my new favorite turkeys, Auburns, and the scuplins were ready to pick.

September
September was a super busy month for us with our family reunion in the first part of the month, Happy joining our family, and a ton of soap making (by the last day of the month, we’d made well over 100 bars of soap. . . yikes!). This was also the month we had our first soap customer (Thank you cousin Lonnie!). 

 

October
October is always one of my favorite months. Not least of all because my birthday is the 13th, but also because our hot temperatures finally start cooling down then and honestly, I just love the colors and feel of fall. And this year was an exceptional October, especially since I loved, loved, loved my present! The Rhodebars and Breda are really looking nice now that they’re getting out of that awkward juvenile stage chickens go through, and they’ve been enjoying their new digs in the grow out pen. I need to take updated pictures of them soon, but for now here’s their baby picture again:

Also in October, I had my first online soap customers and Myrtle and the bucks proved they’re much better gardeners than I am. They still won’t share their secrets for watermelon growing with me, though 😉

November
November dawned and I made more soap and more soap and more. . . well, I think you get the drift. By the end of the month, I had made over 400 bars of soap since July (which is why I am currently taking a little break from soap making lol). I also made lip balm and lotion bars (and a few other things I still need to share). All in all, it was a very busy month.

The Green Fairy Soap (scented with Absinthe fragrance oil)

December
Remember the Bacon & Egg Soap? Even though I wasn’t too sure about it at first, it’s become one of my favorite soaps.

December was also all about packaging soap. . . every single bar. A big “Thank You!” to all of the wonderful people who purchased soap, lip balm, lotion bars, etc from us this year. I’ll begin restocking the shelves later this month, and I already have a great list of new soaps to add inspired by spring and summer (including Neapolitan, Watermelon Crawl, Monkey Farts, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Bama Belle to name a few).

Of course, the year couldn’t have ended without Mose having a post all about him (I hate to say it, but I think he’s a little spoiled lol). He’s already asking when he’ll star in another post 🙂

 

2012 was such a busy year with everything that happened. Of course, there were plenty of highs and lows. The one low I haven’t mentioned, yet, that occurred is that I’m single for the first time in 6 years. I was unsure whether to blog about it or not at the time, but now that a few months have passed I feel much better and less maudlin (even though I ended it, that hasn’t it made it any easier).

A year ago, I never would have expected some of the things that have happened both personally and with our farm, but I’m grateful for the growth I’ve seen with the farm and I have big plans for the coming year (and the years to come 🙂 ). And who knows, maybe I’ll tackle my bucket list in 2013 and see some of the places on it.

Happy New Year!

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The Chicken Chick

 
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Picking Scuplins.

It’s that time of year again . . . the scuppernong vine is full of ripe berries just waiting to be picked. I’ve been going out almost everyday and after just a few minutes of picking returning with almost half a gallon of scuplins. I posted last year about scuppernongs [you can see that post here], but honestly, 2011 was not a good year for our vine for some reason – it barely produced any fruit at all. This year’s bounty has more than made up for it.

Scuppernongs are a little different than grapes because they don’t grow in clusters. It makes for a little more work when picking them, but they’re well worth it.

Today when I went out to the vine, two of the guineas kept me company. Between you and me, I think they were just there to gobble up the ones I dropped, but no matter their company was appreciated.

Unfortunately, I had to cut today’s scuppernong picking session short because of two pesky wasps that were hiding out in the vine. Ouch! I don’t think they appreciated me disturbing their peace, and of course, I didn’t appreciate them stinging my hand. But after applying a baking soda paste and taking some benadryl, I feel much better. Even with the interruption, I still managed to pick quite a few.

Today’s haul. 

Now, I just need to get started on making jelly out of some of these scuplins.