muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

Fall is rolling in like the tide, more and more each day. I’m not sure what it’s bringing with it or, more importantly, where it’s taking me. But there are some things I do know, that I can always know. The land is something you can count on. I know it’s bringing, somewhere in the deep deciduous, ruffled hen of the woods and spongy cèpes. I know it’s bringing gnarled pastel gourds and the vague nostalgia of smoke. And more of my beloved muscadines and scuppernongs for pies, jams, sauces, and for eating by the quart in one sitting.

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

They’re short seasoned, and I try to make the most of them while they’re around. I regret their passing as much as figs, tomatoes, and garlic scapes, and like most of my favorite produce, I start by eating them raw. I have to get my fill of pure unadulterated childhood backyard, thick skins popping in my mouth, fishing the seeds out with my tongue, and spitting them into a bowl. I chew the skin and pulp together, tart and sweet at once. Well there’s a life metaphor for you. With a bow on it. You’re welcome. Sometimes, I tongue the insides of the pulp, where seeds were; it’s almost leathery, in a good way. I’ve enjoyed that peculiar texture since I was a child.

Muscadine hull pie is an economic southern relic. You don’t find it around much anymore, and I’d never had it before I made it myself. But here it stands, dusted off, and ready for a new lease on life with the addition of rosewater and sage. The masculine muscadine, quintessentially cool weather sage, and feminine rose result in a pie that’s at once old and new, and even better, you end up with a beautiful muscadine rose sauce for topping any dessert you can think of, from panna cotta to crème brulee, ice cream to pavlova. Economical, yes.

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

They’re a wild, musky sort of grape, the muscadine. Thick skinned with a strong flavor, it’s a grape variety native to the South. The scuppernog (perhaps the best name of anything ever) is it’s greenish gold sister, and they can be used in any instance a muscadine is called for. Both muscadines and scuppernongs are heady, southern treasures that grow both wild and on backyard vines throughout the region, and they’re at their best in juices, pies, jams, and jellies.

Exciting things are afoot around here—various projects, pieces, and travels—I can’t wait to share every last thing! As some of you may know, I’m planning to open up a little pop up shop called Sweet Gum Co., tentatively slated for November 1st. It will feature southern made & found provisions for the home and kitchen—reclaimed wood bread boards & utensils by my friend & talented woodworker Joseph Heubscher, handmade ceramics by local artist Trish Riley, hand dyed linens from Camellia Fiber Co., vintage pieces, and so much more!

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine rose sauce

I’m also insanely honored (it really was, I admit, a dream come true!) to have been featured on Saveur’s Sites We Love, and I also did an interview for the beautiful blog Ayofemi, which you can find here along with rare photos of me behind the scenes & my work space (a.k.a. mah house). Lastly, I had the honor of writing and photographing Chattanooga’s own Niedlov’s Breadworks for the fall issue of Spenser Magazine, which is, cover to cover, all about Tennessee! You can also find beautiful photography of the iconic and inimitable Benton’s Country Ham by the wildly talented Hannah of Honey & Jam, a beautiful piece on Muddy Pond Sorghum, and an interview with James of the blog Bleubird in that issue—in short it’s not to be missed!

So sage smoke swirls in my bedroom, and I lie still with a fluorite crystal on my chest. Runes scatter, and I don’t know. Particles wave. And the season takes me to the only place time can take anyone: to new corners of myself. I’ll learn, for the hundredth time, that I don’t know myself. And for that, I’ll know myself better. For every situation, from the most resplendent to the most challenging, if you have eyes to see eventually time will take you to the why. So, don’t trouble yourself with the why. That will come. Be here. Hurt or laugh. Chew the tough, sour skins with the sweet, soft pulp. All in one bite. But don’t be scared. Eat pie, do good work, and breathe. It’s a much better game plan. I speak from experience.

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, & rose hand pies

muscadine, sage, and rose hand pies + muscadine rose sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 22-24 3" hand pies

I like to get as much as possible out of my muscadines. Hulls, pulp, juice and all. A lot of people spit the hulls out. Not me. I love their toothsome tart along with the juicy sweetness of the pulp. By adding some water to the hulls as they cook, this recipe also produces enough juice for a beautiful sage and rose infused muscadine sauce for topping everything from ice cream to cakes to panna cotta. Waste not want not, a fine southern tradition!


  • 1 recipe buttermilk pastry crust
  • 1 quart muscadines (scuppernogs work great too!)
  • scant 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh sage
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon rose water (to taste)
  • 1 egg, for brushing
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Using a knife to slit and then by squeezing, separate hulls from pulp and remove the seeds, placing the pulps in one pan and the hulls in another.
  2. Bring the hulls to a low boil with the scant 1/2 cup of water and bring the pulps to a simmer.
  3. Cook both pulps and hulls for about 15 minutes. Hulls should be very tender.
  4. Stir 1/2 cup of sugar into the hulls to dissolve.
  5. Remove from heat, and add in the pulps, lemon zest, sage, pinch of salt, and rose water.
  6. Carefully pulse (it's hot!) in either a food processor or a blender. Don't puree, just get to a nice chunky consistency with no large pieces.
  7. Strain, reserving liquid in one bowl and solids in another.
  8. Set solids aside to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in to about 2 tablespoons of the liquid, and then stir it into the rest of the reserved juices.
  10. Return sauce to the pot and simmer to thicken and cook out the raw cornstarch flavor.
  11. Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce to the solids, taste, and add 1/4 teaspoon more rosewater if desired.
  12. Store the rest of the sauce in a jar in the fridge for another use.
  13. Heat oven to 425°F.
  14. Remove your pastry dough from the fridge and roll out to about 1/8" thick on a well floured surface, rotating it as you roll to make sure it isn't sticking. Using a 3" biscuit cutter, cut out rounds and place on a parchment lined sheet tray. After they're all cut out, chill for ten minutes in the fridge.
  15. Fill a small cup with cold water. Remove rounds from the fridge and top half of them with a heaping teaspoon of the filling. Dip your finger in the water and wet the rim of the bottom round, place another round on top, pinch with your fingers to seal, and then go back around and seal a second time with the tines of a fork.
  16. Chill the assembled pies another ten minutes.
  17. Whisk the egg with a fork, and remove the pies from the fridge. Brush the tops of the pies lightly with the egg yolk using a pastry brush and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Using a sharp knife, poke 4 small slits in the top of each pie.
  18. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F, and then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden.
  19. Remove and cool on racks. Best while fresh, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
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52 Responses to muscadine rose hand pies

  1. ana cooks says:

    girl, you kill me with your style. when i feel less inspired to shoot food, i come here and there’s always a new world of inspiration. i love it all.

  2. You guys have the coolest sounding varieties of grapes over there in the States! Never in my life have I heard of muscadines + scuppernogs!! These hand pies look and sound amazing Beth! As always, love your work xx

    • beth says:

      Ah! You’ve never heard of them! I’m hoping to be, emphasis on hoping, selling a bit of muscadine rose jam when I open up the shop. Crossing my fingers!

  3. Nicole says:

    Every bit of this is so very lovely; the way you conjure the fairly indescribable feeling of fall with your words is marvelous. And of course – those photo!!

  4. This is such a fabulously unique flavour! Gorgeous photos as well :)

  5. Louise says:

    Your writing is beautiful! Thank-you for your wisdomous (should definitely be a word) words, how did you begin to write so great?

    • beth says:

      Wisdomous = officially a word now. I declare it! And I personally hate my writing 90% odd percent of the time…but as to how to write? Best advice: read a ton & write a ton! And be an asshole to yourself? Ok. Don’t do that. But it’s part of my process. I’m not as brutal with myself about writing the blog, but with other things I have a pretty high I never meet!

  6. Hi there, your words are so evocative. Very much an inspiration to me. I look forward to your posts so very much, Jo xx

  7. Natalie says:

    These are gorgeous! I grew up eating scuppernongs my whole life and thought I had heard of everything grape (from wine to ice cream). But I’ve never heard of muscadine pie! What an awesome way to use them. I picked 8 gallons this year and have them frozen, as I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them first (don’t worry – I ate plenty of them raw!). This pie just made the list. Thank you for sharing!


  8. Sonia says:

    So lovely. Your photos and words are absolutely beautiful!

  9. Gorgeous gorgeous photography! So mesmerizing :)

  10. Natasha says:

    Mmm I love muscadines! They are around at the farmers markets here in Atlanta for a very short but oh so sweet while. They’re like candy, the best candy. I am always intrigued by the different ways that people use the hulls, and this way looks wonderful. Lovely!

  11. Caitlyn says:

    I have forever and always wondered what those were called. I would eat them all the time at my grandparents house, who live in Tennessee as well. Whenever I tried to explain them to someone all I would receive in return was funny looks. Scuppernongs. I love it.

    • beth says:

      Yeah, I used to eat them off of a vine at the home of the lady who baby sat me as a kid. I never could understand why grapes from the store didn’t have the cool skin or seeds. I never had them from the store; only backyards. Luckily now they’re pretty easy to find at the grocery around here!

  12. Beautiful, I would love to try the combination of grapes and rose. Here in the Northeast the concords are in full harvest and I have been jamming like crazy. I would love to try this variety of grape. Beautiful work and story telling as always!

  13. These photos are breathtaking. I’d only recently heard of grapes used as a filling for pie, and definitely not muscadines before this — it sounds like it would taste just as phenomenal as these photos look! Thank you so much for the inspiration, as always!

  14. Beautiful! The flavours sound incredible

  15. I am so, so intrigued by the flavors of this recipe. I’m so happy fall is here because that is exactly what these flavors remind me of…

  16. phi says:

    So while living in Chattanooga as a youngster I was always dying to find these gems but they were so rare and you could never buy them at the store. It felt like all of the kids had some hidden vines and I never ever could get any. Everyone loved them and loved talking about them….

    To this day I still feel like muscadines are mystical things. Magic pies – these are.

  17. Heather says:

    Your style, your photography, the recipes, – it’s all amazing. Thanks for making the world a more beautiful place.

  18. Boyd Greene says:

    Wow! I absolutely love muscadines.

    I have never heard of anyone using muscadines in a pie, but I like the idea. I don’t think anything rivals the taste of muscadines for me.

    The farm I grew up on had a muscadine vine growing on a dogwood tree that gave them a very strong tang flavor. I picked some the other day from it.

    The vines in my yard keep growing, but I’ve not had a chance to harvest any yet as the frost seemingly keeps bitting them in the spring.

  19. Boyd Greene says:

    Good luck with your new store adventure as well! Best wishes. I cannot wait to see it.

  20. These look adorable! I’m not a big fan of grapes though – any ideas for substitutes?

  21. atika says:

    Those pies look amazing, though I never try muscadine but I’m sure this pie was delicious :)

  22. These little pies are so pretty. Wonderful photos. I’ve just discovered your lovely blog x

  23. I love how you’re reinventing Southern food! This fruit sounds so mysterious and I love how you’ve combined it with the familiarity of a pie. Beautiful <3.

  24. sarah says:

    I think I write the same thing every time! But, lovely, lovely, lovely. And that last paragraph. That one is tucked away, to be pulled out on long winter days, and dark nights of the soul. xo

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  26. Daniella says:

    Wishing and hoping that you’ll also be shipping to Canada from this shop! Can’t wait to see what you’ll have to offer. Beautiful photos, as always!

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  28. Kathryn says:

    These are real beauties Beth.

  29. Beth Young says:

    So yummy! They remind me of mince pies!

  30. rose says:

    Just beautiful. Bravo once again Beth.

  31. […] Inspired by the New York Times and Local Milk. […]

  32. Linda Taillon says:

    I Love your site! It ALL looksmso delicious… Hoping to try some recipes for a dinner party. What types of wine would you pair with the
    1. Muscadine, Sage and Rose Hand Pies?
    2. Creme Fraiche, Cornmeal, & Pumpkin Coffee Cake and Pepita Streusel?
    3. Salted Caramel Apple Dumplings with Dried Cherries & Hazelnuts and Ginger Cream?
    4. Toasted Oak Ice Cream with Fumee De Sel & Lapsang Souchong Caramel Swirl?

  33. nelibelly says:

    Hi Beth, I am once again in awe of your many talents. Your photography is gorgeous. Your creativity with ingredient combinations is inspiring. Your Rosemary Fig hand pie recipe is now a fig-season staple in our house, and I am looking forward to trying this recipe as soon as I can find a California substitute for the muscadines. Have you had success making large quantities (100+)? I have volunteered (eek!) to make a variety of hand pies for my little sister’s wedding coming up in about 6 weeks. Any tips on how to make them ahead of time? Can I freeze them unbaked? Can I bake them more than 1 day ahead? Any info would be greatly appreciated!

    • beth says:

      I think freezing them unbaked would be your best bet. I have made them in large quantities…and it was a loooot of work! I’d test the freeze and bake, and if that works I’d wrangle an extra pair of hands make them a fews days before, and then bake them off the day of. Best of luck!

  34. Jo Humphreys says:

    This is a beautiful blog and a great recipe! I have a suggestion that might make it a little quicker. I just slice the grapes exactly in the middle and flick out the seeds, instead of squeezing out the pulp first. Then I just cook the pulp and hulls together.

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  37. […] its lard and okra—and gives it a modern twist. Some of my favorite recipes include her hand pies (muscadine rose and blueberry, basil, and goat cheese) and sweet potato […]

  38. Dennis Tracz says:


    Love your muscadine sensibilities and photographs. Yum!

  39. […] 4. Beth is a true handpie master, making all kinds of flavors work in her pie fillings – Muscadine Rose Handpies, White Peach Rose Basil Handpies, Blueberry Basil Goat Cheese Handpies. 5. Shauna’s dreamy […]

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