I put in several varieties a few years ago and am starting to get enough for a good sample this year. I have three purple ones ripening now: Sugargate, Ison and Black Beauty. My main impression is they are more alike than different, which is a bit surprising as I expected more differences. Compared to non-muscadine grapes they have much more flavor. I had a few Joy left hanging and the muscadines I preferred in comparison even with the annoying skin and seeds. My Darlene (bronze) are just starting to ripen now, they are also good but I prefer the purple ones. When the skin has started to dullen they are a real treat.
I was also curious how people pick their muscadines. Mine have small clusters which ripen unevenly so I am picking them one grape at a time. Since I have few grapes its easy to do but I’m not sure how it will work out when there are more.
They are mostly picked one-three at a time. The cluster usually ripens only a few at a time. When the vine is in full production there is so many ripe it doesn’t take long to pick them. Out of the ones you have the Black Beauty is the only one I have tasted. It is one of my favorites. Large with a thinner skin than most others.
My Ison Supreme and Darlene are long past gone, but are in jelly jars. I pick them 1 at a time from the clusters as needed. They do ripen uneven. This yr I picked them a little early because of coon and possum pressure. They still made excellent jelly.
Just wanted to add that a steamer juicer made easy work out of collecting muscadine juice.
Commercial pickers let them ripen good, put a sheet or tarp under them and then shake them good. Alternatively, they use a mechanical harvester which essentially shakes them as well. God bless.
Ah, now I am understanding why all the commercial muscadines I have seen for sale are individual grapes and not clusters. Somehow I thought my immature vines were just being odd.
Vitis rotundafolia (Muscadine) is in its own sub-genus with a few more tropical species. The self fertile charactoristic comes from one of the other species bread into muscadines at around the turn of the 20th century. Before that, they were all male or femail. Anyway, the various members of this sub genus have clusters that “shatter”, meaning the individual grapes become loose and fall off when ripe. Consequently they are picked more like berries. There is a debate within the industry about whether they should be marketed as “grapes” outside the South at all or whether they should simply be marketed as berries. Some studies indicate that Americans who were not raised with Muscadines better respond more favorably to them if they are not predisposed to think of them as grapes. God bless.
… I have been harvesting more and as I get used to them I notice the Sugargate is bigger and easier to eat than Ison since it has less chewy flesh and skin. Black Beauty is similar, but I am not getting too many yet as its a later variety. Ison is still very tasty and it has perfect flowers so is useful as a pollinator with fruit as a bonus. Its still too early for Darlene to have many berries, its the latest of the ones I have fruiting now.
I finished up the last of mine a few weeks ago. I purchased “Lane”, a purple variety, a couple of years ago. It wanted to produce a few fruit in its very first year. There were several fruit this year, and they were very good. I also have Scarlett, but it hasn’t produced yet. A few years ago, I purchased several varieties from Ison’s, which were apparently all mislabeled. The very best of those is a bronze variety. It has a very sweet, excellent flavor, and I can never stop eating them. Before I started growing my own, I hated muscadines. I love the flavor of these, though.
I have another purple, unknown variety that has an unusual shape for a muscadine. They are elongated and shaped like egg sinkers (if you’re familiar with those - fishing sinkers). Anyone have any idea what variety they may be?
Before growing my own muscadines I thought they were decent but not great. These new varieties like Lane and Black Beauty are super good to me. I’m sure several of the others are really good as well.
@RobThomas and @Auburn was that compared to eating wild fruit or bought fruit?
For me it was mostly compared to wild fruit.
They are not common in stores and markets here as we are a bit far north of muscadine country. But every time I found them I usually bought some. I found many seemed to be picked too early and were not flavorful, only one purchase was really tasty. Thats what motivated me to try growing them. Overall its proving to be a great decision. Most recently I noticed an added bonus that they ripen here after the berry-eating birds have all left for greener pastures. I am not netting them and still am not losing any to predators. Also no spraying is needed for me.
Scott, a challenge you might discover in future, cooler, years is that Muscadines don’t develop a high sugar content well under cool conditions. But in my humble opinion, I can’t think of a fruit I like better than a perfectly ripened muscadine from one of the high quality newer varieties.
When I moved into this house, the previous owners had several established muscadine vines.
I gave them two seasons. Couldn’t stand them last year, couldn’t stand them this year. The skin and the seeds are just too…yuck.
Cut down most of the vines last week and hoping Matthew soaks the soil enough to let me rip out the trunk and roots.
I tried to like them, but…nope.
Once you decide that a muscadine vine has become a weed, it becomes a very stubborn weed to fight. LOL!
I just read that muscadines have more resveratrol than any other grape. Good for your health/longevity.
This was my first taste of Black Beauty and I thought it was very good. Nice and sweet, yet crunchy. But, that is based on a sample size of 1 ripe grape
Black Beauty, 18-19 brix on 10/8 (Late Fry not ripe yet):
There were two grapes on the vine. I picked the first in mid-September and it was too early.
12-13 brix on 9/24:
The first grape had only one seed and the 2nd had none, so I’m guessing that not much, if any, pollination occurred.
Black Beauty was also the only muscadine whose un-protected top-growth survived the reasonably rough (-9F) winter.
I thought I would check my brix as well. Ison is around 17. The Sugargate and Black Beauty I picked and ate all the most ripe ones but some reasonably ripe ones are now testing at 19 for both varieties. Darlene had a few I missed that were fully ripe and they were 20. I think the SG/BB will be 20+ when I get a fully ripe sample.
The more I eat the more I push Ison down compared to the other ones, its in a tier clearly below the other three. For processing the flavor is similar so there would be little noticeable difference, but for fresh eating Ison is not nearly as good. BB and SG make a good pair if you want to extend the season some - they overlap but right now SG is mostly done and BB is just getting going.
Anyone have opinions of Nesbitt and Triumph? I planted those last year. I am thinking of adding another. Any suggestions on an additional variety? I have been considering Summit or Supreme. Summit is mentioned as being somewhat cold hardy. I’m in zone 7a.