so, does the scuppernong deserve a shehecheyanu?

Did I get your attention yet or did you think that my auto-suggest went nuts?

Actually, I’m very old-fashioned. I do my post writing on my computer, and WordPress surprisingly does not have auto-suggest. They just redline everything. (Like redline. And scuppernong and shehecheyanu:).)

I was at Whole Foods today buying up in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. I bought dino kale (so we should have a dinomite year) and baby bok choy (so our babies should be chock full of love) and apples and pears and dates for the sweet year (ISHI doesn’t eat apples, even if they’re organic). And then I saw them.

Some muscadines in a bowl; the green ones are scuppernongs.

And they’re organic!

But what are they?

I bought them. Should I refrigerate them?

Are they fruit? They look a lot like tomatoes.

Or grapes.

And for our purposes, are they a new fruit, so can we say the blessing of a new fruit for the new year with them?

In the meantime, D#1 was on the lookout for a new fruit, too. She sent me this photo from her store in Teaneck that was looking out for its customers by offering the following:

I did some research on these, of course.  This is what I wrote her:

The rambutan looks interesting but too difficult to eat, so skip that one.

Monster fruit –probably too difficult to get a ripe one.

The fruit may be ripened by cutting it when the first scales begin to lift up and it begins to exude a pungent odor. It is wrapped in a paper bag and set aside until the scales begin popping off. The scales are then brushed off or fall away to reveal the edible flesh underneath. The flesh, which is similar to pineapple in texture, can be cut away from the core and eaten. It has a fruity taste similar to jackfruit and pineapple. The unripe green fruits can irritate the throat and the latex of the leaves and vines can create rashes in the skin, because both contain potassium oxalate: that’s the reason why the fruits have to be consumed when the scales lift up.

I’ve had the dragon fruit in Israel–not really tasty, and they were ripe. Just no taste. Not a good sign, I think.

Tamarind–“tamar indi” Indian date. Supposed to be very mature before it’s good. So are they? It’s high in calcium, which is odd for fruit.

So…either the monster fruit or the tamarind?

So I was not sure about what she would discover, so I was on the hunt for something different today. This definitely fits that category. But does it fit the definition of a new fruit?

Google to the rescue (Don’t worry, D#2, I’ll get to your stroller search later)! Here’s what Auman Vineyards have to say about them:

Scuppernong is the original variety of bronze muscadine discovered growing in the wild. Today even though improved bronze varieties such as Carlos and Magnolia have been developed for commercial plantings, most southerners still refer to any bronze muscadines as Scuppernongs. Purple or black varieties are commonly called muscadines.

Scuppernong & Muscadine History

The Earliest Accounts

North Carolina is the home of our nation’s first cultivated grape. The earliest written account of the “White Grape,” as it was called by our colonist, occurs in Giovanni de Verrazzano’s logbook. Verrazzano, the Florentine navigator, who explored the Cape Fear River Valley for France in 1524, wrote that he saw “…Many vines growing naturally there…”

“Grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater”

Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers, captains Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe wrote in 1584, that the coast of North Carolina was “…so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them…in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found.”

In 1585, Governor Ralph Lane stated in describing North Carolina to Sir Walter Raleigh that “We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and most pleasant gummes, grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater…”

Of Muscadines and Scuppernongs…

Of the bounteous store of natural gifts that have rolled forth from the Horn of Plenty upon the soil of North Carolina few have been more celebrated than the scuppernong grape. It is a sport of the species Vitis rotundifolia, commonly called muscadine, which is native to the southern states and grows nowhere else save as an exotic. The muscadine, it is no exaggeration to say, could well be substituted for cotton in the first line of “Dixie” if one were to bow to botanical realism. The scuppernong variety of muscadine has a tough skin and is bronzy green in color, rather than black or purplish as were its ancestors. Its size, to use traditional Tarheel parlance, is “about that of a hog’s eye.” As is the case with all muscadines, the fruit does not grow in conventional bunches, and when ripe it can be readily shaken from its vine. It’s abundant juice is so deliciously sweet, with a kind of musky, fruity flavor, that when it’s unusual color attracted attention, in the general vicinity of present day Columbia, N.C., possibly toward the end of the eighteenth century, specimens were transplanted or seeds or cuttings sown on neighboring farms and gardens whence in time its reputation spread throughout the botanical worlAnd then there’s this from the Wikipedia article on muscadines:

Although in the same genus Vitis with the other grapevine species, muscadines belong to a separate subgenus, Muscadinia (the other grapevine species belong to subgenus Vitis), and some have suggested giving it standing as a genus of its own. Some taxonomists have also suggested splitting two additional species off from Vitis rotundifoliaVitis munsoniana and Vitis popenoei. All have 40 chromosomes, rather than 38, are generally not cross-compatibile with other Vitisspecies, and most hybrids between the subgenera are sterile.

That’s enough for us! They are like grapes, but different enough to fulfill the requirement of being its own fruit. And it will get the brachah of שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ, that we are grateful to being alive and being kept alive in this new year.

And I also bought a papaya last week, just in case.



2 responses

  1. Pingback: so the scuppernong definitely deserved the shehecheyanu! | But Mostly Hers

  2. Pingback: groans for the new year | Learning from the Learned

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