Muscadine Sauce really isn’t a sauce at all. It’s more of a spiced preserves, with pieces of muscadines swirled with fall spices. It’s truly a southern classic that could even be described as “Christmas in a jar!” There’s a story behind the making of Muscadine Sauce that’s been kept a secret…until now.
For many years, Callaway Gardens purchased muscadines that had been deseeded from Paulk Vineyards in order to make Muscadine Sauce. According to Ann Paulk (wife of Gary):
“In 1996, the year of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Callaway Gardens prepared us in advance to up the order for deseeded muscadines to about double their usual order. Another month or two passed and it was near harvest time. The purchaser called back and said that they wanted the deseeded product, but they had a problem. The cook (jelly, preserves and sauce maker) had become disgruntled and left …. WITH the famous muscadine sauce recipe. Now anyone knows you can find a jelly or preserves recipe, but this sauce was famous (and had secret ingredients). You could only purchase it in the Country Store at Callaway, and it was handed down from Mrs. Callaway’s personal recipes.
My mother was born and raised in Luverne, Alabama, and she had a cousin that moved off to Evergreen, Alabama, when she married. In Evergreen, there was a nursery that planted a Japanese Garden for Mrs. Callaway in the 1950s. While they were in the process of planting the garden, her recipe was shared with Cousin Louise, who found out from Aunt Sue (my mama’s sister) that we sold muscadines to Callaway. She gave the recipe (in the mid 1990s) to my Aunt Sue and swore her to secrecy. Aunt Sue was ONLY to share the recipe with me. I made a trip to Aunt Sue’s where we proceeded to cut, pour, stir, cook and fill up two stoves with Muscadine Sauce makings. Since the recipe had no pectin, we were trying to guess when the sauce would be the correct consistency and at the correct boiling point to can. What a mess! We finally got it in jars and some turned to stone, some sauce was just right, and some was syrup!
A couple of years later, when the buyer said he no longer had the recipe, you can imagine his shock to learn that WE had it! It’s in my Aunt Sue’s handwriting (Cousin Sarah called her on the phone and gave it to her). It’s been tweaked and works much better now that we’ve figured out how to add pectin.”
A few years ago, Paulk Vineyards began using a local small business (The Southern Mercantile) to co-pack all the Muscadine Jelly, Preserves, and Sauce to ensure quality and stay as true to the original recipe as possible.
If you’ve never tried Muscadine Sauce, this is the perfect time of year to do so. Muscadine Sauce is a Paulk family favorite, especially during the holidays. We serve it as an appetizer over cream cheese with crackers. We also substitute it for cranberry sauce with turkey and dressing or add it to a stuffed pork roast. It’s even perfect with a biscuit for breakfast on Christmas Day! It is nice to have on hand in your pantry for last-minute get-togethers, whether you use it for an appetizer or as a sweet little hostess gift.
To purchase Paulk Vineyards’ Muscadine Sauce, click here.