"Italian grapes" - they're neither Italian nor grapes. Discuss!
September 21, 2009 8:47 PM   Subscribe

[Identify this fruit filter] What fruit is this?

I just started eating this fruit, and can't get enough of it. It's a very deep purple, the skin is quite thick and somewhat tannic, and the juice is so fragrant my head spins when I have one. Inside are a few small, green seeds (the tiny out-of-focus thing in the foreground of the photo). There is also a green variety that has a slightly thinner skin and is little more tart, but almost nearly indistinguishable. The meat is grape-like in that it has the signature texture and vein-iness. What's also striking is how round they are - each one is a perfect sphere.

I unfortunately only know the Chinese name of it - "Italian grape" - and google-fu fails me when the only things I have to work with are "Italian," "grape," and "Chinese." Also, unsurprisingly, I've only been able to find them at Chinese groceries/supermarkets.

What are these tasty buggers?
posted by chan.caro to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Quick question: how are they sold? Do they come in bunches like grapes do? Just packaged up like berries? Loose...?
posted by Knicke at 8:58 PM on September 21, 2009

Best answer: I've never seen one of these, but my culinarily-better-informed friend says it's probably a scuppernong or muscadine. They're actually native to the southeastern United States.
posted by decagon at 8:59 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Muscadine
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:59 PM on September 21, 2009

Response by poster: They've been sold to me loose, though I have gotten some remnants of stems, which are pretty short.
posted by chan.caro at 9:00 PM on September 21, 2009

Response by poster: Hit the nail on the head, running - thanks!
posted by chan.caro at 9:01 PM on September 21, 2009

I'd say it's a Muscat grape. Definitely an acquired taste.
posted by torquemaniac at 9:01 PM on September 21, 2009

it's probably "vitis labrusca" -- here in Italy it's called "uva fragola" (strawberry grape, though the taste has very little to nothing to remind of strawberries) or, in some ornamental varieties, "american grape".

They were also used to make a red sparkling wine in NE Italy, called "fragolino" and it's great -- or was -- since the fucking EU banned its sale to protect the market for european grapes. Who owns vines can still make it, but not sell it.
posted by _dario at 10:12 PM on September 21, 2009

Here's a tip for you. My grandmother used to have these growing on their property in Mississippi, near the Tennessee state line. A local favorite, which she made every summer, was muscadine jelly. It's all the goodness of muscadines, year-round and ready for spreading on toast or biscuits. Definitely give it a try, or make some if you're up to it!
posted by Houstonian at 5:41 AM on September 22, 2009

I grow them in my DC front yard, and do plan to make wine out of them, if I ever get enough. I planted them only last year, so maybe next year?
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:25 AM on September 22, 2009

Yes, those are muscadines. They are easy to grow here in South Carolina and as mentioned above, they are usually enjoyed plain, or made into jelly or wine. My backyard vine has been very productive for the 15 years since I planted it. Unfortunately the 'possums love muscadines too and host 'possum parties nightly when the grapes ripen, leaving me with just a few to enjoy for myself.
posted by ourroute at 7:56 PM on September 22, 2009

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