Take a bite out of fall with a day trip to pick apples | North Gwinnett Voice
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Apples

Apple picking is a beloved autumn tradition, and for residents in the north Gwinnett area, this tradition is just a day trip away. From the city of Ellijay to the town of Blue Ridge, an hour-and-a-half drive in either direction will take you to a Georgia orchard where you can enjoy fruit picked straight from the tree.

WHERE TO PICK

Mercier Orchards

A family- and veteran-owned and operated apple orchard now its fourth generation
established in 1943

8660 Blue Ridge Drive, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513 | 706-632-3411 | mercier-orchards.com

  • Apple picking is subject to availability and weather 
  • Cost — $5 admission plus the price of a basket — $9 for half a peck, $17 for a peck and $24 for a half bushel; children 2 and younger are admitted for free and do not receive a container 

Hillcrest Orchards

A family owned and operated apple orchard established in 1946

9696 Highway 52 E., Ellijay, Georgia 30536 | 706-273-3838 |  hillcrestorchards.net

  • Apple picking is available daily until fruits are gone, and guests should visit the orchard’s website for specific times and dates for picking
  • Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31 
  • Admission is $12 per person Monday through Friday for children walking age and older, while admission is $18 per person on Saturdays and Sundays, with children not yet walking admitted for free
  • This orchard grows a variety of applies, including Red and Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Pink Lady, Mutsu, Granny Smith, Fuji, Cameo, Winesap, Honey Crisp, Gala, Jonagold, Arkansas Black, Gold Rush, Pinata, Ambrosia and Yates

TIPS TO MAKE AN APPLE PICKING TRIP A SUCCESS

  • Contact the orchard in advance. Apple picking is a popular activity, so expect a crowd to be there on a typical autumn weekend. 
  • Choose firm apples without bruises. According to pickyourown.org, apples should be crisp and firm. Don’t worry about the color of the apple, as color is not an indicator of ripeness. Instead, pickyourown.org advises people to ask the farmers which apples are ripe, which is determined by how long it’s been since the trees flowered.
  • Gently place picked apples into your basket. The website pickyourown.org recommends gently placing apples into your basket after picking them. Tossing them into the basket may cause bruising, which can lead to the apples spoiling prematurely. While it depends on the variety, many apples that are not bruised tend to last a long time, especially when stored in a cool place. So taking care of them when picking them can mean you get to enjoy apples for several weeks.
  • Clean apples before eating them. The Food and Drug Administration notes that produce can be contaminated even after it’s been picked and brought home. The FDA advises consumers to wash their hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce. Produce should be rinsed before it’s peeled so any lingering dirt and bacteria are not transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. If bruising has occurred, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating it.

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