I have come to understand that apple pie is far more than dessert — it’s part of our American identity. It’s true that our beloved tasty treat takes on many forms and flavors. That’s part of what makes it the perfect end to a nice meal.
It’s so good that sometimes we like to enjoy our pie with a cup of coffee, a glass of milk or for some a glass of sweet tea because it can never be too sweet. A good pie is best enjoyed one slow bite at a time. No need to rush something so wonderful.
Freshly pealed and sliced tart apples, like the Granny Smith variety, make fine pies as they hold up better unless you prefer a mushy pie. Some people do and that’s also wonderful. Apples are always accommodating.
We have recently been working on a broadcast special that will focus on some of the Carolinas’ most tasty apple treats. On our schedule, we visited a few apple festivals in the Carolinas.
We were happy with our visit to the 42nd annual Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. We have covered the event in the past; however, this time the total focus was on apple pies, apple butter and to our surprise, a delightful apple donut made by the Duck Donut folks.
The first visit of the day was with Ma’s Apple Pies, which were made on location. The dough was portioned prior to the festival; however, it was hand-rolled, filled with spiced dried apples, folded and deep-fried right there for everyone to see. They were so good that no one seemed to mind the wait.
Ma, also known as Vicky Tilley, shared her story with us. The only place you can get one of Ma’s freshly made fried apple pies is at the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival.
It’s also a family tradition. Very early on Apple Festival morning, Ma’s family comes together at their location, which has been beside the now Wells Fargo stage for around 16 years.
As soon as the booth is set up, they start making pies. Local folks who are in the know arrive early and get in line even before the festival opens.
Family members shared that while it makes for a long day of nonstop pie making, it’s wonderful family time together and seeing people respond in such a positive way makes the whole family proud.
Our next visit was with Brushy Mountain Fire Department firefighters, who were at the corner of Main Street and Ninth. They have had the same spot for 42 years. They bring in WWI-era wood-burning ovens to bake their traditional spiced apple pies. They always have a line and normally sell out by noon. It’s a fantastic nostalgic journey. As I am writing this now, I can vividly recall the smell of the smoke, the crackling of the burning wood and the flames from the fire being stoked.
When the pies came out of the oven one of the firemen rang a cowbell and yelled, “Fresh Hot Apple Pies Come and get ‘em.” And they did. All 4000 of them.
The profits from the Fire Department’s annual efforts help pay for their clothing and other needed items. The brotherhood, or family, of firefighters pulls together to make it all happen.
We visited with the folks who make delicious Apple Butter on location. We learned about how it’s made and why. It was and is a great way to use the apples during and at the end of the season, so they do not spoil.
One more tasty stop was with the folks at Duck Donuts, who featured two delightful apple-infused donuts that are made to order. The line was long and once again no one seemed to care.
We are all part of a family tree and apples grow on trees. Maybe that’s why we love them so much.