Monday, September 3, 2012

Muscadine & Scuppernong Sorbet

Muscadines & scuppernongs. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
As sure as shootin' that a hurricane will blow through and send Weather Channel reporters scrambling to the Gulf Coast, the wild grapes of autumn will appear in farmers markets and supermarket produce stands in late August and early September. Scuppernongs, (the green ones) and muscadines (the purple ones) are cultivated wild grapes, meant for eating out of hand and in recipes.
 If you’ve never tasted wild grapes, be prepared for a thick skin and a bright, sweet burst of juicy grape flesh. In the store, look for clean, unblemished grapes in the quart package. (And I'm sure I'm not the only shopper who does this - checking the package bottom to ensure berries and grapes are fresh - that's where the spoilage first appears.) Although the grapes can be quite large, sometimes the size of small plums, look for smaller grapes - the flavor will be more concentrated.
Muscadines & scuppernongs. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

I've always considered wild grapes to be an out-of-hand food until last fall, when Ritz-Carlton Atlanta Chef Brian Jones served muscadines in a palate-cleansing sorbet at the Atlanta Grill. Chef Jones is a Southerner with an affection for our native foodways, including wild grapes.
Grapes in food processor. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Inspired by Chef Brian, I replicated the muscadine sorbet, adding scuppernongs into the mix. With an ice cream maker, sorbets are very simple to make – just crushed fruit and simple syrup, strained and frozen. I have a Krups LaGlaciere that’s about 10 years old – the most difficult part is remembering to put the canister in the freezer overnight before making the sorbet. 
Wild grape sorbet. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Wild Grape Sorbet from Muscadines & Scuppernongs

I made this at home using vanilla sugar (simply a split vanilla bean placed in a jar of granulated sugar) for extra oomph, but plain granulated sugar works just the same. The recipe can also be frozen in popsicle molds, perfect for children, because my kids loved this!

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 slice lemon
1 quart muscadines, washed and dried

Ice cream maker

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar and lemon; stir until sugar is dissolved.  Let cool to room temperature.
2. Place clean grapes in a food processor, pulse to a coarse grind. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and transfer pulp to strainer. With the back of a spatula, press juice from the pulp. Be patient and gentle; this step takes time to get all the juice out of the pulp. Discard solids.
3. Combine juice and simple syrup. Place in refrigerator to chill, then freeze according to ice cream maker's instructions.
 Inspired by Chef Brian Jones' muscadine sorbet at the Atlanta Grill, Ritz-Carlton downtown.

Text and images copyright 2012, Lucy Mercer. 

1 comment:

Lana @ Never Enough Thyme said...

Love the gorgeous color of this sorbet. I remember picking buckets of wild grapes when I was a child but haven't had any in quite some time. I'll be on the lookout for them now!