It’s Blueberry Picking Time in Western North Carolina

Photo Courtesy Writer Gal

Abundant Rain Makes for a Great Wild Crop

We’ve had a bumper crop of native blueberries this year around Asheville. Our record rainfall for this time of year—almost 52 inches through July—has made for one of the best crops in recent years.

Did you know that wild blueberries are higher in nutrients than cultivated blueberries? So they’re great for your daily antioxidant fix. Native blueberries love acidic soil, which we have in abundance in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and thrive in partly sunny conditions. They’re usually found on open mountain balds with rhododendron and mountain laurel.

Locals visit a couple of well-known spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway to look for the little blue gems; one is Graveyard Fields, about 40 miles to the southwest of the city. Unfortunately, due to damage to the Parkway caused by the year’s heavy rains, one of Western North Carolina’s best spots for blueberries, Craggy Gardens, is inaccessible for the next few weeks. Repairs are expected to be finished at the end of August, but it’s likely that the native black bears will have enjoyed all the blueberries by then. Craggy Gardens is about 20 miles north of Asheville.

So what to do with your treasure trove of blueberries? This easy scone recipe is a great way to enjoy any type of berry. We think your scones would look beautiful on some of Nick Moen’s handcrafted plates; fill up a bowl with blueberries for healthy snacking. Drop by the studio to see Nick’s other work, and visit the blog again next week when we’ll share his profile and you can learn more about this talented local potter. In the meantime, happy picking!

Berry Scones

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter

1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 cup fresh berries

1 tsp. vanilla

1. Stir all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs, and then add the lemon peel.

2. Add the remaining ingredients into a well in the middle of the mixture and stir with a fork until just moist.

3. On a lightly floured surface, quickly yet gently knead the dough just 10 strokes or until almost smooth. Fashion into an 8-inch circle on an ungreased baking sheet. Score into about 8 wedges, cutting about halfway through the dough.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400°; it should be golden. Cut into wedges and remove from baking sheet. Serve warm.

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