The next time you are driving down the stretch of U.S. 17 between Beaufort
, do not pass Carolina Cider Company
From the outside, it looks like an old country store. The inside is packed with good food – including all types of cider, fruit butters, jellies, honey, pickles and benne wafers.
The store has been in business for about 13 years, said Catlin Lambert. She is the manager for the owners, her daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Tristan Leinhert.
Tristan Leinhert’s family has been making cider for generations, and he and his wife wanted a store that would carry cider products and other foods of the South, especially foods that were still made in small batches.
For years I’ve loved stopping in whenever I’m in that part of the state. My son always wanted to stop for a cold cider drink, and they come in almost every flavor imaginable. Of course apple cider is available, but so are blackberry, red cherry, blueberry, strawberry, peach and muscadine.
You’ll also find all flavors of jams, jellies and preserves – almost 50 are shown on the store’s website.
There’s an assortment of pickles and relishes: dilled green beans, chow chow, black-eyed pea relish, artichoke relish. You can stock up on grits and rice.
If you’re not in the mood for a cider, you could have a Blenheim ginger ale or a Cheerwine.
Apparently lots of folks have looked forward to stopping at Carolina Cider. Several years ago, the owners were told the Yemassee store would have to be closed because of the widening of U.S. 17, Lambert said. In fact, the Leinherts opened a new store nearby in Pocotaligo, closer to Interstate 95. But loyal customers launched a petition drive, and the Yemassee store was allowed to stay in business right where it was. The Leinherts continue to operate both stores.
A big draw at Carolina Cider is the pies, homemade each day by Laurel Goodman.
Lambert said Goodman uses her grandmother’s recipes and only fresh ingredients. In fact, she raises her own chickens to have fresh eggs for the pies.
Goodman gets up at 4 a.m. daily to bake pies and has an assortment ready for the store by 8 a.m.
When Southern Living magazine
named the South’s best pies last year, Goodman’s pecan pie was one of the 16 listed. The article said that all of Goodman’s pies are good, “but her pecan version is extraordinary: The buttery texture of the baked pecans pairs nicely with a filling that’s neither too syrupy nor too sweet.”
The pecan and sweet potato pies are popular in the fall, Lambert said. I took home a small apple pie; the filling was delicious, but the flaky crust was exceptional.
If you can’t get there, the products are available by mail order.
But when you can get there, it’s a fun place to browse for a while.
“We kind of call ourselves an unofficial welcome center,” Lambert said.