Friday, August 26, 2011

Folklife Friday: Possum Grapes

The possum grapes are ripe.

Being a lifelong scavenger, I am constantly looking for wild and free food on my ramblings. Early this week, on my morning walk, I spied a vine of wild grapes, or possum grapes, as they are known around here.

Wild grapes grow in almost every state in the county. Here in the south, they are abundant in woods and popular with the wildlife. Most are hard to get to; they are sun-loving and will climb to the tops of trees for the sunlight, making them out-of-reach. Fortunately, some vines get tangled over bushes and limbs, keeping the fruit low enough to be available to us.

The grape itself is small and is mostly seed, not really that good to just munch on. Their real treasure is the juice, which has been made into syrup, wine, and jelly as long as we have been cooking. The juice is much more potent than tame grapes. Wild grape jelly is more tart and flavorful than what is usually available in the grocery store.

Back in the day, when we were unable to find all the wild grapes we wanted, we were told that the 'wild' teenage boys had picked them all to make some forbidden wine. If someone found enough wild grapes to can the juice, they had to store it carefully, out of sight and reach of those same boys. It was prized for the treasure that it was.

There were just a few bunches of the grapes I found, and they were on property not owned by me. There was not enough for more than a pint of juice, so I just left them hanging there.

I hope the possums find them.

Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Song of Solomon 2:15