FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, SEPT. 11, 2009
John Snipes, marketing specialist
NCDA&CS Marketing Division
Muscadine grape season ripe with flavor
RALEIGH -- September is a big month for North Carolina’s native grape -- the muscadine. It is when the grapes hit the peak of their harvest season and when they show up in full force in farmers markets, roadside stands, grocery stores and pick-your-own fields.
“The muscadine season is off to a great start,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Growers tell me the quality of this year’s crop is good and yields are up, which means muscadine lovers can find plenty of their favorite grapes where they shop.”
Muscadines are primarily in bronze and deep purple or black colors, with each variety having its fans. The bronze grapes are typically the first to appear in retail outlets during the harvest season.
The grapes, with a thick outer hull and sweet juicy flavor, have a long history in the state, having been seen by Sir Walter Raleigh’s men when the earliest settlers came to North Carolina. The grapes thrive in a hot and humid environment, making them well suited for production here. It typically takes three to five years to establish plants for commercial production.
Whatever color consumers choose, the grapes have a wide variety of uses -- jams, jellies, wines or in recipes calling for grapes.
“We have seen growing interest in muscadine grapes in the past few years as more people learn about the health benefits of this fruit,” said John Snipes, marketing specialist for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Research has found that muscadines are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, and they also contain resveratrol, which studies suggest can help prevent heart disease and high cholesterol.”
Consumers should pick up these late summer treats now. The season is expected to wrap up in early October.