Road Trip Through Apple-atcha: Homemade Apple Pies, Apple Cider & More

Sep 30, 2016

Fall is upon us, which means apples are now in season. Apples played a major part in the history of Appalachia, and on this week’s episode, we explore some of that history, and what the apple is doing for the state now.


The apple is a mainstay in the West Virginia agricultural market. The Golden Delicious originated in West Virginia. According to West Virginia’s Agricultural Commissioner Walt Helmick however, “The apple industry has decreased significantly over the years. We’d like to see, obviously we’d like to see the apple industry return to the days of glory but we think there’s a future in the revisiting, if you will, the apple industries.”

There may be a ray of hope in all this, as hard apple cider, the drink of choice for settlers long forgotten in the wake of Prohibition, is making a comeback. Roxy Todd spoke with Josh Bennett and Will Lewis, founders of Hawk Knob Cider, in Lewisburg West Virginia, about reviving this time-honored drink. Lydia Wilson from the show With Good Reason also talked to Albemarle Ciderworks in North Garden, Virginia about the boom in the cider industry.

The Golden Delicious apple is West Virginia's state fruit
Credit Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture

There are cider festivals happening across Appalachia during this fall season, such as Cider Week, which begins November 11 through the 20th across many locations in Virginia, as well as CiderFest, which is Saturday, October 15, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m, in Asheville, North Carolina.

You may be wondering- how could this boom in hard apple cider change the apple orchards of tomorrow? How is the apple industry adapting to this trend? In this week's episode, we'll hear a story from our friends over at the Gravy Podcast about how the apple cider boom is changing the kinds of apples farmers are growing.

Fig and plum tart
Credit Emily Hilliard

Apples are for more than just cider, and some say that there is nothing more American than apple pie. So we talked to Emily Hilliard, the state folklorist of West Virginia and author of the pie blog Nothing in the House, about what goes into making a traditional apple pie, as well as a fig and goat cheese tart. Emily's pie crust was also featured in a new cookbook called Victuals: An Appalachian Journey with Recipes

We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from the West Virginia Humanities Council, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  

Music in today’s show was provided by the Hillbilly Gypsies, Zachary Byrd with The Western Ave. String Band, Anna and Elizabeth, Dog and Gun​, Ben Townsend, and Andy Agnew Jr.

Our producer is Roxy Todd. Our editor is Jesse Wright. Our audio mixer is Zander Aloi.

We’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at feedback@wvpublic.org. Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.