Carolina Bed and Breakfast

Grape Harvest in Asheville, NC!

>One of the special memories of my childhood summers in North Carolina is of the Muscadine grapes which grow throughout North and South Carolina but are not much known in the rest of the country. These hardy grapes have a thick skin and many seeds but their uniquely sweet and sour flavor makes them worth the work. As a child I loved the burst of flavor that erupted as one bit through the skin. They signaled to me the end of summer as they appeared in August shortly before we would return north to Connecticut for the beginning of school.

I was delighted last year to discover that the vines growing over the trellis on the back porch of Carolina Bed & Breakfast were muscadine grapes. Unfortunately last year it seemed less than delightful as the whirlwind of buying the inn and getting it ready for the October rush meant that we had no time to harvest them. They fell with regularity onto the porch, needing to be swept up before being stepped on by an unsuspecting guest.

But this year, as the grapes darkened and began to drop, I was ready and harvested a full basket of beautiful grapes. This, of course, begs the question of what to do with them.

When we lived in England we had a walled garden with multiple fruit trees and I learned to make jams, jellies and chutneys from the harvest as there was more than we could possibly eat. So I pulled out my jam pot and got to work sorting out and cleaning the ripe grapes.

In order to make jelly it is necessary to break the skins of the fruit and mash them, then boil them until the juice is rendered. Remember I said the skins were tough? Well it took me quite a while to break up all those grapes but eventually I had a pan full of lovely red grape juice.

Actually more juice than I need: Here you can see nine filled jelly jars, enough juice to fill eighteen more and a big bowl of grapes which are still ripening.

I promise I won’t only serve grape jelly at the Carolina but I might send you home from Asheville with a small gift!