CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — As the “Dog Days” of summer have ended, people are already thinking about appetizer ideas for football tailgates, barbecues and holiday parties. If you really want to get into the Mountain State spirit this season, surprise your friends and family with a charcuterie board loaded with West Virginia foods!
Below are some items to make the perfect West Virginia-themed charcuterie board:
West Virginia-shaped cutting board
To start off, you will need a Mountain State-shaped cutting board for an extra special Appalachian presentation. You can probably find one of these boards at a West Virginia marketplace or gift shop, or you can order one online:
- Totally Bamboo® West Virginia Destination Cutting Board online at Bed Bath and Beyond, Amazon, Walmart and Target
- West Virginia Personalized Cutting Board on Etsy
- West Virginia Shaped Cutting Board from American Heirloom
Pepperoni is commonly found on charcuterie boards, but West Virginians take things to the next level with pepperoni rolls! The savory, portable snack originated in the Mountain State as a lunch for coal miners and was first commercially produced in 1927 in Fairmont, according to the West Virginia Department of Tourism. The typical pepperoni roll has sticks or slices of pepperoni and cheese rolled into a fluffy roll and baked.
To incorporate pepperoni rolls into your charcuterie board, you can cut them up into little pieces or make mini ones. Pair them with a dipping sauce like garlic butter, marinara sauce or ranch. You can even add your own variations in the roll such as seasonings, additional meats, multiple cheeses or veggies!
Cheese crafted in the Mountain State
Various cheese shops, creameries and dairy farms offer cheese made here in the Mountain State that will be perfect for your charcuterie board! By adding West Virginia-crafted cheese, you can help support local producers such as the ones listed below:
- Spring Gap Mountain Creamery in Paw Paw, West Virginia
- Shepherd’s Whey Creamery in Martinsburg, West Virginia
- Valley Cheese Co. in Wheeling, West Virginia
Golden Delicious or Grimes Golden apples
Most charcuterie boards include some type of fruit, and the state fruit of West Virginia is the perfect option! The West Virginia State Museum website says the Golden Delicious apple was first found on a tree in Clay County around 1900. Later in 1995, the West Virginia State Legislature designated the Golden Delicious as the state fruit.
The Golden Delicious is the second apple that originates from West Virginia. The first is the Grimes Golden apple, which is the parent of the Golden Delicious. According to The West Virginia Encyclopedia, the Grimes Golden was first found in Brooke County in the 1800s. Local legend says that John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, planted the seed of the Grimes Golden original tree.
For your charcuterie board, you can cut the apples up into slices and spread them around in a pattern for aesthetic and a pop of color. You could also make the apples into apple butter for a spreadable cracker topping.
Deer jerky is a popular snack in the Mountain State and the perfect meat addition to your West Virginia charcuterie board. You can find deer jerky at grocery stores, gas stations, meat markets and more places in the state. Or you can make your own! Check out this deer jerky recipe from West Virginia Mountain Mama.
Mini ‘Hillbilly Hot Dogs’
The West Virginia hot dog, also known as the “Hillbilly Hot Dog,” is loaded with chili, slaw, mustard and chopped onions. Since these can get a little messy, you may want to separate the hot dogs from the toppings.
Simply cook the hot dogs, put them into buns, and cut them into minis. Then put containers of toppings with serving spoons next to the hot dogs. This cuts down on the mess, prevents buns from getting soggy, and allows people to choose the ingredients they want.
During the Great Depression, farmers in Preston County, West Virginia, grew buckwheat as an insurance crop. At the time, it was thought that the crop would stimulate financial growth, says the Visit Mountaineer County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Buckwheat also has a short growing season and is a high-quality, gluten-free food item.
Preston County even has a Buckwheat Festival every year from late September to early October!
Today, buckwheat flour is incorporated in many foods such as bagels, cakes, pancakes and crackers. You may be able to buy buckwheat crackers at your local grocery store or healthy foods market, or you can order them online. A few online options are below:
- Le Pain des Fleurs Organic Buckwheat Crispbread on Amazon
- ORGRAN Gluten Free Toasted Buckwheat CRISPiBREAD on Amazon
- Amisa Organic Gluten Free Buckwheat Crispbread on Amazon
You can also make your own buckwheat crackers if you’d like to! Try this recipe from Archana’s Kitchen or this recipe for buckwheat crackers with olive oil and herbs from Lazy Cat Kitchen.
In October, black walnuts begin falling from the trees, and to celebrate the harvest, the Black Walnut Festival is held every year in Spencer, West Virginia. The Department of Tourism says the festival carries on the local tradition of bringing harvested black walnuts to Spencer to be weighed and sold.
For a West Virginia charcuterie board, you can find plenty of black walnut incorporated items at Spencer’s annual festival, at a typical grocer like Walmart or Kroger, or at your local farmer’s market.
Gold and blue utensils
Final touches to your charcuterie board include utensils so you and others can enjoy some Mountain State goodies! Gold and blue represent West Virginia University’s colors, and in 1929, blue and “old gold” was declared the official state colors.
You can add more color to your charcuterie board with gold and blue toothpicks, tongs and other cutlery. If you’d like to go all out, pair utensils with blue and gold plates, napkins and cups! These items are typically sold at party stores, the Dollar Tree party section, online and other places.
Bonus Item: Wines made in West Virginia
West Virginia is home to various vineyards and wineries where you can find the perfect beverage to pair with your Mountain State foods. The wines can be purchased on-site or at local farmers markets, gift shops and other stores.
The West Virginia Department of Tourism gives a list of 13 wineries across the state. In addition, the website for Visit Southern West Virginia provides a list of multiple wineries, vineyards and breweries in the lower part of the state.