Grape Hull Pie
December 22, 2017 9:11 PM   Subscribe

I grew up about 50 miles from this small town in Duplin Co. and have never heard of this particular pie. So it may just be a creation of the restaurant's owner. I did, however, grow up eating scuppernong grapes, native to the area, and whose skins are basically inedible: tough and bitter. You squirt the inside flesh into your mouth and it's sweet and juicy. Muscadines are native to the American continent, may be the only native grape. I think they're called fox grapes up north. The pie does sound interesting, though.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

A couple more recipes are listed here.
posted by sweetmarie at 9:35 PM on December 22, 2017


Growing up in Georgia, we young-uns were blessed to have about 30 acres of some undeveloped woods behind our subdivision. There were all sorts of delights out there for kids: the “climbing oaks”, the mud bog with its garter snakes, turtles and tadpoles, the strange pine thicket, the foxholes, the creek, the two 19th Century clapboard houses that had been 90% reclaimed by nature (“Don’t go in there!” but we did, and found a crate of old letters with stamps from the 1800s - I still have them), the old well, the brier patches, the poke weed and poison ivy (!) everywhere, and that fantastic tangle of wild muscadines!

If you timed it just right, you could give the birds a good run at them when they were getting ripe. I’ve never had a scuppernong, but there’s little better than being a nine-year-old loose in the deep green woods, foraging on oxalis, wild berries and muscadines, still warm from the sun.

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life than when I was nine, in those woods.
posted by darkstar at 9:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [39 favorites]

For those who are curious, you can find the Del Rio restaurant on Google Street Maps.
posted by Beholder at 9:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

THAT is a great read. And now I want some pie...
posted by jim in austin at 10:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Scuffanons that is how they called them.
posted by Oyéah at 10:22 PM on December 22, 2017

Muscadines are native to the American continent, may be the only native grape.

Of the eight species of grapes in the Vitis genus, six are native to North America. I read about them thanks to an AskMe question about wines made with native North American grapes.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:48 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

Muscadines will always bring to mind the grapevine entwined around the white rail fence on my grandparent’s farm near the NC/VA border. The fence and the vine have been gone for more than thirty years, but those long-gone wild green muscadines are my Platonic ideal of grapes.

Side note: MeFi’s Own DigDugDag makes a podcast about Wilmington and the surrounding area, with a regular review of Eastern NC’s selection of sausage, egg and cheese biscuits with a side of fruit, if you’re interested in the kind of food lauded in the article.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Eastern NC native here; the thing I miss is my grandmother's grape hull preserves. We never did the pie because the preserves were sooooo good.
posted by mightshould at 2:39 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

terrific article, thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 5:28 AM on December 23, 2017

My favorite part is where she calls the two cent tippers buttholes all these years later.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:33 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

Glanced at the title of the FPP and read it as "A forgotten desert of eastern North Carolina".
posted by Thorzdad at 5:42 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Great article! And those two cent tippers were buttholes.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 6:01 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

For years, I have joked that the reasopn we have quiche but not grape pie, is because Georgians can't tell the difference between grapes and eggs. (Because here in the SE US we do love our interstate rivalries, it's like picking on your cousins at a family reunion.) So, turns out I was wrong, those wily N. Carolinians were keeping the goodness all to themselves.

My favorite story about muscadines/scuppernongs involved my, now departed, dog, Ilsa. She loved muscadines and would eat them right off the vine. I have had many people tell me grapes and rasins are bad for dogs, but she lived to a ripe old age happily munching on her favorite treats once a year on my 7 acre spread in the wilds of S. Carolina. She had a corgi's natural smile, and during those weeks, she smelled like the happiest four-footed wino in the state. Whenever I get a whiff of windfall grapes, I think of her.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [23 favorites]

"she smelled like the happiest four-footed wino in the state"

That's a keeper.
posted by sutt at 6:30 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

My aunt made this pie when I was a child!!!!! I spent a lot of time with my cousins and at that time they lived in a big old farmhouse in Sampson County with a humongous grapevine full of the best scuppernongs in the world.

The pie itself was heaven in pastry. She did not put a crust or meringue or anything on top, just the bottom crust and the purply goodness inside. I would sneak an extra piece if I could.

I have been looking for a recipe for years. You have just made my day.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:53 AM on December 23, 2017 [10 favorites]

I'd never heard of this pie but looking online it seems pretty well known. Here's a lovely photo of a slice, and a recipe from Nancy McDermott.

For anyone else confused; the pie contains the grape pulp, not just the skins. The processing is to remove the seeds and separate the skins from the pulp. Scuppernong skins are remarkably tannic, moreso than ordinary table grapes, and I was trying to imagine a pie with just skins. Yuck!
posted by Nelson at 8:19 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Global warming has almost made it possible to grow scuppernongs here. When I can, I will make this pie.
posted by acrasis at 1:55 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

didn't jem and scout accidentally destroy miss maudie's scuppernong arbor, this is the sole scuppernong fact i know.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:58 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have never had much luck with newspaper and vinegar.

As for scuppernong sister in law, the wine drinker, has gifted me bottles of Duplin Wine before. That stuff tastes so bad I've been scared off of eating the grapes although when they are in season at the Farmer's Market they do look tempting.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:33 PM on December 23, 2017

Duplin wine bears as much resemblance to a good scuppernong eaten on a fall afternoon as a pat on the head bears to a deep muscle back rub given by a devoted lover.

Find the grapes, off the vine is best, in a container at the farmers market will do, if you have to. Do they sell these in the store? I don't know, I never want to find out, if so. This a is a joy to be found in situ. In a place. Behind your grandfather's barn, at the abandoned fishing hole, randomly beside a gas station parking lot. Pick out a fine example, a glowing globe, skin the dusky shade of tarnished brass. Like the candle holders at the chapel where your grandmother goes for Wednesday services. Like goldenrod in a September. Pop it in your mouth. Break the thick, yet supple, skin with your canine teeth. Feel the surface tension break with the snap of a green twig. Let the sweet, oozy, juice overwhelm and then coat your mouth and slide down your throat. Spit out the skin, pulp and seed, preferably at a lazy sparrow perched on a fence line in late afternoon sun. A lizard will also suffice, if no sparrow is at hand. Smile. Know joy.

posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:03 PM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

Of the eight species of grapes in the Vitis genus, six are native to North America.

Many, if not most, of the wineries in North Georgia these days feature a native varietal in their line-up. Norton is very common, but I've seen Catawba too. A few actually make their own muscadine wine as well, though none as good as the homemade stuff an ex-girlfriend's ex-boyfriend used to make.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:46 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Vitis vinifera are the European grapes most wines are made from. Vitis labrusca are from North America and include the scuppernong, a variety of muscadine. While labrusca might be unpopular for wines, pretty much every grape is grown on labrusca root-stock. Labrusca is naturally resistant to phylloxera, a nasty little sap-sucking insect that decimated European wine country in the 1860's and 70's.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:19 AM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Time to bring up the word "foxy" when talking about wine made from North American grapes. There's a reason fine wine isn't made from Norton, Catawba, or Scuppernongs. I mean they certainly make wine, it just tastes and smells off. It's blamed on methyl anthranilate, and apparently someone's managed to breed that gene out of some New World grapes so maybe someday we'll see better wine made from them.
posted by Nelson at 5:50 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Clearly back in the day things were different, Nelson.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:32 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

And to the rest of you, do not diss the Duplin. It is not fancy, it is not nuanced, but it brings me back to my childhood memories of the Scuppernong grape every time.

In other words, send me your unwanted bottles.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:34 AM on December 24, 2017

If anyone gives you hell about drinking Duplin, ask them to recommend another wine that pairs well with PBJ on white bread (no crusts? pinkies up). They won't be able to do it and you can return to your classy day-drinking. Seriously, muscadine or sucuppernong wine and PBJ. I call it Redneck Klassy Brunch and it is the best for those otherwise dull Sunday mornings with friends. You can't not have fun with that menu.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:18 AM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

With a shot of moonshine back?
posted by Nelson at 11:35 AM on December 24, 2017

You do you, brah. I'm stayin' klassy over here. Pass the sammiches.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:38 AM on December 24, 2017

As a native of the Catawba valley of North Carolina, I am intrigued by Catawba grapes and their apparent complete lack of connection to the region, the river, or the native people of that name. They seem to be only found in the northeastern US. That's very weird.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:44 PM on December 24, 2017

Nelson, that's pretty cool. Without the weird off-flavor getting in the way, who knows what kind of delicious flavors they have in the background.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:04 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

With a shot of moonshine back?

Oh, man, my local bar has been doing some kind of grape shrub in house that's become wildly popular. If you like a good grape soda or grape juice (I do, fite me!) this is that multiplied by a thousand. It is so much grape, even more grape than a good grape jelly or preserve.

I generally prefer my cocktails to simply taste like alcohol, but this grape shrub thing is something I can totally approve of.

Yet I'm kind of on the fence about grape hull pie. It sounds like the texture might be weird, but I guess it wouldn't be much different than cherry pie. This is totally the food anarchist in me talking, but it's making me ponder a grape pie in a flaky lattice or covered crust like a cherry pie with peanut butter somewhere, maybe in the bottom crust or a ribbon of peanut butter fudge or something.
posted by loquacious at 5:28 PM on December 24, 2017

The version my aunt made did not have hulls in it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:12 PM on December 24, 2017

Whoa! Welcome back St. Alia
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:00 PM on December 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

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