Wild Mustang Grapes

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In June the final book of my “Texas Star of Destiny” series,  Her Abundant Joy,  for Avon Inspire will be released. I so enjoyed doing the historical research because I discovered so many things I never knew. Have you ever heard of Mustang grapes?

I hadn’t but I was looking for something for my heroine and the hero’s sister to pick along the trail south toward the American Army camped in Mexico for the Mexican American War. My hero Carson Quinn is a Texas Ranger who is scouting for General Zachary Taylor in 1846 (who liked to wear green carpet slippers instead of boots). Mariel, my heroine, is a German immigrant who must deal with this new world. Here’s an excerpt which will tell you all about Mustang grapes.

             _Grapes_svg_med  

“Mariel left the men who were fixing harnesses and checking the horses and wagons for any weakening from rolling and jolting over the rocky, uneven, vast landscape. Answering Sugar’s call for bucket. Mariel  picked her way through the wild shrubbery that lined both sides of the creek

“Oh, good!” Sugar called out. “Come! I found wild mustang grapes!”Mustang_grapes

 Mustang? Horse grapes? Mariel approached Sugar and offered her one of the buckets.

“Be careful. Snakes will be lying beneath the shade of the brush out of the sun,” Sugar cautioned.

 Snakes. Mariel halted in her tracks. Carson had described to her all the deadly snakes in Texas.

 Sugar came forward and led Mariel by the hand. “This path is safe. I checked it on my way to the grapes. Look.”

 Mariel looked around at the mass of twisted vines. She had never picked any grapes, much less wild ones.

Sugar opened her hand revealing large round grapes with nearly black glossy purple skin. Sugar squeezed one of the grapes and exposed what looked like a white eyeball inside.  Pressing her thumbnail into the flesh, Sugar   exposed a double seed core.

“You eat them like this. You put a grape in your mouth and press it with your tongue and out comes the fruit.” A little purple juice leaked out at the corner of her mouth. She sucked it in and giggled.

 The giggle turned into a sob. Sugar turned away and began to pick grapes and drop them into the tin bucket. Plop. Plop.

I was right. Something is tormenting Sugar. 

Mariel began picking grapes, trying to come up with a way to ease Sugar into sharing a confidence. The fresh sweet scent of the ripe fruit tempted her. She couldn’t resist slipping a grape into her dry mouth, squeezing it with her tongue and letting the sweet tangy juice flow.  How she had longed for fresh fruit on the voyage to Texas.

As she picked fruit, she tried to decide whether she should let Sugar weep and act as if she had not noticed. But Mrs. Quinn was counting on her.

Mariel said in a low yet firm voice, “Sugar, I will listen. And not  talk about what you say.”      

  _Grapes_svg_med

Lyn again-I live in the northwoods of Wisconsin (though I was born in Texas). Here I have picked wild plums, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, dewberries. What do you pick by you? And have you ever tasted a mustang grape?

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Updated: June 2, 2010 — 12:54 pm

42 Comments

  1. Hi Lyn,

    I absolutely love the cover art on this book. I’m a sucker for great cover art. Interesting about Mustang grapes…never heard of them. They sort of look like Concord grapes. I live in Indiana and I don’t really pick anything but the major items planted here are corn and soy beans.

    Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

  2. Hi Lyn,

    I live in Wisconsin(center of the state) during the summer months. I’ve had fun picking strawberries, raspberries and currants. My In -laws came over from Hungary via Germany. They have a nice pear tree along with several apple trees.

    In Florida, I’ve picked oranges, grapefruit and lemons. I’ve grown pineapple by planting the tops in the ground. They were little but cute!

    My In-laws told many stories of coming here and starting over. They were 18 & 21! Mariel will have quite a time learning a new language and customs. I love Texas Rangers. I’m going to look for your book “Her Abundant Joy”.

    Have a wonderful summer!

    johnslake at usa dot com

  3. Good morning Lyn, very interesting about mustang grapes have never heard of them, or dew bewberries we must not be able to get them here in Nebraska.

    Makes my mouth water thinking of all those wonderful fruits. Love the cover the book sounds wonderful.
    I hope you have a wonderful day here at the junction.

    bmazur123@aol.com

  4. I found wild strawberries growing in my irises this year but you can’t eat those. I grew up spending the summer on my grandparent’s farm. Granddaddy had concord grapes, a plum tree, and a strawberry patch. But what I remember most was picking blackberries for jam. We would set out through the fields, dodging cows, and follow the vines along the fence. We always came back with one less bucket, full stomachs and purple fingers.

    Looking forward to your next book.

    Peace, Julie

  5. Good morning Lyn. I have never heard of mustang grape, but sounds delish.
    I love fresh strawberries and blackberries. Should be time for blackberries soon.
    Your book sounds great!

  6. Are they also called muscadines? We ate a fruit very similar to that and we called them muscadines. We used to pick them in OK when I was a child and my grandma made jelly with them. They also have a place here in East TN that they make jelly and wine with them. I’ve had their non-alcoholic wine; it was very good.

    The book sounds very interesting. I’m always a sucker for books set in TX.

  7. Yes, mustang grapes do remind me of concord grapes which my mom used to buy and make into jelly. It’s possible that muscadines is a Spanish version. I’ve eaten wild strawberries. They used to grow behind our house in IL. I really hate that road crews keep destroying wild berry patches. We live in the forest and they mow down the shoulder of the roads. That’s where the berries congregate to get the sun. It’s harder and harder to find anything wild to pick! As for the dewberries, they look and taste a lot like blackberries only the individual little globes are bigger. Hope that makes sense!

  8. What a wonderful post and the cover is striking and unique. We pick strawberries every summer and apples in the fall. Best of success.

  9. Hi, Lyn! Congratulations on the release of “Her Abundant Joy”, and the success of your “Texas Star of Destiny” series! Reading about these grapes and berries has made my mouth water for blackberry cobbler topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. Mercy!

    I had not heard of wild mustang grapes. However, the best jelly that I have ever eaten was made with wild grapes. My grandmother was the best cook ever, and she also new the names and uses for so many flowers and plants. We used to go on walks and she would point things out to me and explain what they were. One day we found a patch of wild grapes, small and reddish, and I asked her if she could make jelly. I didn’t realize how many grapes it would take to make jars of jelly to line up on the pantry shelf. My wonderful Gran was able to take our small little treasure of grapes and make one perfect jar of jelly. One of the short, half-pint quilted-glass jars. I can still see it and remember the taste of that sweet jelly. When I held the jar up to the sunlight coming through the window, it glowed like a garnet gem.

  10. Hi Lyn!
    I live over here in Oregon. We pick Marion berries, Boyson berries, Raspberries, and some Strawberries.
    I don’t think I’ve ever tried a Mustang Grape although they sound really good!

  11. Nothing like fresh fruit in the summer.

  12. Hi, Lyn. Your book sounds great! I’ve tasted wild blackberries and raspberries. There are wild strawberries growing in the ditch near my parents’ farm (Iowa), but who wants to go down in there where there might be snakes?!

    Here’s another tidbit of berry history: When Kearney and Lea were scouting and exploring Iowa, the hooves of the soldiers’ horses were stained red from the wild strawberries growing in abundance on the prairie.

  13. Hi Lyn. Your book sounds great. I have never eaten a Mustang grape. I have picked blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

  14. Hi Lyn,
    I grew up in Florida so we were always picking oranges off the trees. I’ve lived in Wyoming twenty-seven years now, but have never had the opportunity to pick berries here. I have never eaten a mustang grape but they sound wonderful.
    Love the cover of your book and want to congratulate you on it’s release, can’t wait to read it.

  15. Great post, around here its mostly strawberries, black berries, and raspberries! I have never heard of Mustang grapes!

  16. Lyn, welcome back to the Junction. It’s always exciting to have you visit.

    What an interesting subject. I’ve never heard of mustang grapes. I’m going to file away the information in case I need it sometime. We have wild plums here where I live. They make excellent jelly but we have to add a lot of sugar.

    Congratulations on your new book release. It looks really good.

  17. Hi Lyn,
    Your book sounds like a great read!
    Some of the wild things I have picked and eaten are gooseberries, blackberries, wild onions, hickory nuts, pawpaws, dandelion greens and morel mushrooms. Wish I knew more about what is safe and what is not. Some of the wild berries and cherries around here are poisonous.

  18. I don’t really pick anything now, but when I was young we picked blackberries every year and my mother would take us to a strawberry farm and we would spend the whole day picking strawberries. We also had a persimmon tree in our yard but I never cared for the taste of them.

  19. Well, that was interesting, never heard of mustang grapes! Great info! I do love to pick blackberries, and we used to pick wild blueberries when we were kids,
    All the best for your release!

  20. I just love your books. I haven’t been able to start this series yet but it’s definitely on my list. I have never heard of mustang grapes either but it sounds like fun picking them (except for the snakes).

  21. Welcome, Lyn. What a gorgeous cover and fun topic. No mustang grapes here. I haven’t picked anything for years…as newlyweds, hubby and I planted strawberries and raspberries in our little suburban yard. Usually got enough razzies for a couple of pies. Then we had kids and concentrated on raising humans LOL.
    God bless you on your release!

  22. Never had a Mustang Grape… the only things I remember picking as a kid were apples, strawberries, and veggies from my grandmother’s garden… I really like your book’s cover!

  23. hi lyn! thanks for sharing! i’d never heard of mustang grapes
    i sure bet they were desperate for some fruit!
    story sounds great! so interested to find out what’s wrong with sugar! 🙂

    love the cover and i love your sparkly name at the top of the post–i lvoe sparkles 🙂

    i live in iowa and have picked a variety of things
    one of my favorites not yet mentioned (maybe i missed it) is mulberries
    mmmmmmm
    yummy! when i was young we used them to stain our shoes to look tie-dyed
    now when i go for walks my dogs eat the fallen ones and my kids and i pull them from the trees

  24. Welcome back to the Junction, Lyn! Where I grew up in Illinois I picked blueberries, blackberries and apples. I’ve never heard of a mustang grape, though.

    Congrats on the new release! Her Abundant Joy looks wonderful.

  25. I live in Pa and the only thing I have picked wild is raspberries and blackberries and the occasional wild apples and pears. I have never heard of a mustang grape. My grandparents were farmers but I remember the large garden they had later in life and I miss the fresh veggies although I do try my hand at a few things such as tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and lettuce.

  26. Avatar

    Thanks for the information on mustang grapes! Very interesting how the littlest thing can be used to advance the plot of a book and at the same time draw the reader into a rich setting.

    I would love a chance to win a copy of your book, it sounds wonderful.

    EvaMariaHamilton at gmail dot com

  27. Have never tasted a wild mustang grape.
    I pick blackberries, wild strawberries, huckleberries, and elderberries where I live.

    I enjoyed the excerpt and am looking forward to reading the book.

  28. I’ve never tasted a wild mustang grape, but I do love grapes.
    thanks for sharing.

  29. Thanks for all the sharing about different fruits. I’ve lived in IL, IA and now WI. That story about the abundance of wild strawberries in IA made me recall for my childhood dream–If I was granted one wish, it would have been to see the US in its natural state. I imagined myself flying over the landscape and marveling. Funny, I hadn’t thought of that wish for years and years! Wouldn’t that have been a treat?

  30. Hi, Lyn. Great scene. I put Huckleberries on one of my Texas books and my editor said there weren’t huckleberries in that area.

    Well, I checked all my notes. I knew I’d found huckleberries somewhere. Why would I CHOOSE huckleberries otherwise, a somewhat obscure choice.

    I couldn’t find what ever had prompted me to choose huckleberries so I gave up. I wish now I’d used mustang grapes. What a great western-ish fruit. 🙂

  31. The book sounds really good and has been added to my TBR list for the summer.
    Living here in the deserts of Arizona, not too many things like berries to pick. About the only place I eat berries is in jellies and jams.

  32. Hi, Lyn. Great scene. I put Huckleberries on one of my Texas books and my editor said there weren’t huckleberries in that area.

    Well, I checked all my notes. I knew I’d found huckleberries somewhere. Why would I CHOOSE huckleberries otherwise, a somewhat obscure choice.

    I couldn’t find what ever had prompted me to choose huckleberries so I gave up. I wish now I’d used mustang grapes. What a great western-ish fruit. 🙂

  33. Besides all the regular crops that grow in the
    area: rice, pecans, citrus, watermelons, etc, we
    usually pick wild blackberries which grow in our
    flowerbeds.

    Pat Cochran

  34. Here in Oregon we have Strawberries, Marions, Boysens, and Raspberries. I have never had a Mustang Berry. Sounds good though.

  35. Avatar

    Never picked mustang grapes. From the time we were kids, back in the “Olden Days” according to our children, I have always gone out and picked whatever was available. Grapes, strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, currants, apples, pears, asperagas, fiddleheads, and mushrooms (not often, it isn’t safe), butternuts, pecans (if we are lucky enough to find a tree), black walnuts, watercress, mint, and whatever else we could find. It is harder now to find things than it was back then, but still possible. Great fun unless you run into a bear who wants the same berries.

  36. a fabulous posting…thanks for the chance to read you latest novel 🙂

  37. I have picked some of the fruits that you named but never mustang grapes.

    lorettaC
    lbcanton@verizon.net

  38. Great column! Never heard of mustang grapes. I mentioned in an email to you Salmon berries in Iowa, my sister said she thought my said they originally came from Russia and were planted in a few areas of Iowa, and you have to pay to pick them. I’m expecting a jar of the jam, will let you know what they look and taste like. I’m sure you could probably find them on something like wikipedia? Anyway, great info on mustang grapes, would love to read your newest book!

  39. I enjoyed reading part of your book. It feels like home. In fact, right now my hands are burning from mustang grapes gathered from our ranch in Cuero Texas. We watch every year for them to ripen. Some years they don’t show. This year we got lucky with all the rain. I can see so clearly that grape popping in her mouth and the purple juice running out a bit.

    I didn’t know about the snakes. Maybe I’ll be a bit more careful harvesting the next batch. In fact I did see a snake but only after returning to the barn – it was waiting on the steps for me but ran when I started toward it.

    Right now I’m working up 100 pounds of grapes into jelly. That amount didn’t even make a dent in the crop. I hate to have anything go to waste so we’ll be bringing another couple hundred pound tubs back to Austin this next week. Luckily I learned they can be processed and the juice frozen for months until I give away what jelly I have and am ready to make more. Thought about using some for juice but I’m not sure if they have too much acid.

  40. I just picked a batch of Mustang grapes today in Comanche County, TX. They really made a heavy crop this year.

  41. i am looking for mustang berries.i have not seen them for the longest time,they make the best jelly!!!

  42. I am looking for mustang berries for jelly. it yummy, I havent had it forever.

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