Monday, October 26, 2009

Scuppernong Jam

On one of my many recent trips to the Farmers Market, to buy more apples, I spotted heaping baskets of Scuppernongs. The greenish bronze orbs were teeming with honey bees, and God, that smell! But I purchased my apples and went back home to make more apple butter.

That enticing grape-y aroma, however, would not leave my olfactory. It evoked memories of childhood, of sweltering, late summer evenings, biting into the tough skin of scuplins (that's what we called them) popping the very sweet, juicy, and refreshing pulp into my mouth. I could almost hear the buzzing of mosquitoes in my ears.

As I worked with the apples, I was thinking about those grapes, which is not fair at all to the apples. They should have had my full attention, but they didn't seem to mind.

Compelled, I went to the market again the next day to buy one of those baskets of scuppernongs. I couldn't resist. . .I was beckoned. I asked the farm worker to shoo off the bees before he placed the basket in the trunk of my Honda, which he gladly did. I took that beautiful, evocative, basket of grapes home. It was heavy!

For a few days, our home was redolent with the sweet yet musky aroma of those scuppernongs. You didn't even have to come inside to smell it. So it was no wonder that after days of making apple sauce and apple butter, then cooking those fragrant grapes, we would have a back yard visitor. A black bear!

While we do live in the mountains of North Carolina, we don't live in a rural setting, not even suburban. We live right in town and not where one would expect a bear. But there he was. I was comfortably sitting on the sofa, with my legs tucked under a lap blanket, reading. Pritchard Parker and Jill were back in the office working. I heard an unfamiliar sound and perked up my ears. What were P.P. and the dog doing? Then I realized it was coming from outside and got up to look. Yikes, about 2 feet from the back door, ripping through a bag of trash I had set out, was a big bear.

I called to my husband and, together, we watched out the window until he finished exploring the trash, then lumbered off and over the fence. P.P. went out to pick up the trash the bear had scattered and he said that bear smelled very, very bad. Tough luck for Yogi, the grape pulp was tucked away safely inside the freezer, until trash pickup day. I guess Mr. Bear was disappointed with us because we haven't seen him again.

Scuppernong Jam
5 1/2 cups scuppernong nectar
3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. butter (reduces foaming)
1 pkg. Sure Jell for less sugar

Make scuppernong nectar by washing, then cooking about 5 pounds grapes with 1/4 inch of water, 10 minutes, until the grapes are very tender. Press them through a food mill.

Mix together 1/4 cup of sugar with the contents of the Sure Jell packet. Add to the nectar along with the butter. Stir constantly over high heat until it comes to a rolling boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred. Add the remaining sugar, bring back to rolling boil and cook for exactly one minute. Quicky ladle into sterilized jelly jars, seal, and process according to directions in your area. (Check with your local Agricultural Extention Service). Makes about 7 cups jam.

Delicious on a hot buttered biscuit.


  1. Made some today, added cinnamon and clove and a tiny bit of lemon juice....excellent!

  2. I used more than five pounds of fruit, but measured out the exact amount of nectar. The method recommended to boil the fruit and pass through the food mill worked perfectly. I added a bit of lemon juice and a few shakes of cinnamon. I ended up with seven perfect jars of jelly.

    1. I am happy the recipe worked for you and I hope you enjoy the jelly!

    2. Can I do this without a food mill? Thanks