Friday was the first day of U-Pick Strawberries at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA. and I was glad I went because by Saturday afternoon, strawberries were picked or as much as could be.
There were many left to ripen so U-Pick will return soon unless the weather this week damages them. Let’s hope for the best.
The Orchard began in this small building in 1943 and sits atop the mountain overlooking the vast land that produces prolific fruit for shipping and for the public to forage. If one believes in fresh locally, you can’t get any closer than that of picking from a plant or tree.
We’ve been visiting Mercier’s for 20 years now and have witnessed their continued growth from apples to peaches, and now branched out to nectarines, cherries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries creating the largest fruit orchard in the Southeast.
Tourism continues increasing at a rapid pace for this small Mountain Arts Community in North Georgia. Mercier has accommodated this increase by expanding yet again, another parking lot.
I signed up to receive updates from Mercier’s Facebook page. This way, I can keep up with what goes on in the orchard and what fruit is ready for picking. It also is a good way to keep up with what’s baking in the store. Every now and then I enjoy stopping in just for lunch.
Before I left to pick strawberries, I took time to bake biscuits or shortcake as its called when used with strawberries. Essentially, I make biscuits the same except I leave out the sugar. If however, one does not want to make their own biscuits (shortcake), buy frozen biscuits. By the time you juice up the strawberries and pour over the biscuit and top with whip cream, you really won’t be able to tell the difference.
What you will know is that using a biscuit is far superior than those perfectly round awful bread cakes they sell pre-packaged along side with that red gel junk in a bag. Trust me, the following recipe is better and far healthier.
Makes 6 – 8 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cups milk, cold
Mix dry ingredients together
Slice butter into the same bowl
With a pasty blender, cut butter into the dry ingredients and work until crumbly
Add milk and form a ball. Dough will be tacky
On a flat surface, sprinkle flour and place dough here. Knead with fists four times, meaning press down with fists and fold dough over and repeat three more times. Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut circles with any size round object you have. I like my biscuits big so I use a wide mouth jar.
Place biscuits on greased cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated 400°F oven for 18-22 minutes. If using a dark pan reduce temp to 375°F
For two people
Cut into quarters 10-15 strawberries, depending on the sizes
Place in a bowl and sprinkle three heaping teaspoons of sugar over the strawberries and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour giving time for the strawberries to release juices.
For two people
Half cup whipping cream
one heaping teaspoon confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Whip until cream begins to fluff, add sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until peaks form.
Place the shortcake on a plate
ladle with strawberries and juice
place a dollop of whip cream over this and sprinkle cinnamon
Enjoy the first fruit of spring,