Apples – Facts, Myths & Legends
Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C.
The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspin and the Black Sea.
Apples were introduced to New York by the European settlers who brought seeds with them in the 1600s.
Apple trees are valued not only for their delicious fruits, but for their wood that is used for making mallet heads and golf clubs.
Pieces of apple wood add excellent flavor for smoking foods, and the split wood makes ideal fire logs.
Apples are a member of the rose family
Apples are available year-round.
The most popular variety in the United States is the Red Delicious.
Fresh apples float because 25 percent of their volume is air.
About 50% of apples grown in the United States are sold fresh and 50% are processed into apple juice, apple sauce, or dehydrated apple products.
There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples grown in the world.
The apple is the official state fruit of Rhode Island, New York, Washington, and West Virginia. The apple blossom (Pyrus coronaria) is the official state flower of Arkansas and Michigan.
Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
There are apples that have an aftertaste of pears, citrus, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, strawberries, grapes and even pineapple!
In 2002, the average U.S. consumer ate an estimated 15.8 pounds of fresh-market apples, and 26.4 pounds of processed apples, for a total of 42.2 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products.
Apples have five seed pockets or carpels. Each pocket contains seeds. The number of seeds per carpel is determined by the vigor and health of the plant. Different varieties of apples will have a different number of seeds.
Planting an apple seed from a particular apple will not produce a tree of that same variety. The seed is a cross of the tree the fruit was grown on and the variety that was the cross pollinator. The flowers of the majority of varieties must be fertilized from the pollen of other apple varieties.
Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.
For optimal storage, apples should be kept at 35-40 degrees with relative humidity of 80-90%.
It takes energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.
Most apples can be grown farther north than most other fruits, because they blossom late in spring, minimizing frost damage.
Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.
In Colonial times, apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.
The world's largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)
It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
Don't peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Antioxidants help to reduce damage to cells, which can trigger some diseases.
Many apples after harvesting and cleaning have commercial grade wax applied. Waxes are made from natural ingredients.
Health Benefits of Apples
· Easy on the digestion, apples contain malic and tartaric acids that inhibit fermentation in the intestines. Their high fiber content adds bulk that aids the digestive process, making elimination natural and comfortable. Apples contain pectin, a soluble fiber that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
· Apples contain flavonoids, antioxidants that improve immune function and prevent heart disease and some cancers.
· Green apples act as a liver and gall bladder cleanser and may aid in softening gallstones.
· Because of their high water content, apples are cooling and moistening and aid in reducing fever. Simply grate them and serve them to feverish patients. Steamed apples sweetened with honey are beneficial for a dry cough and may help to remove mucous from the lungs.
· Hippocrates (circa 400 BCE), the Greek physician considered the father of medicine, was a proponent of nutritional healing. His favorite remedies were apples, dates, and barley mush.
· Today medical practitioners are beginning to recognize that the apple's abundant quantity of pectin is an aid in reducing high cholesterol as well as blood sugar, a wonder food for people with coronary artery disease and diabetes.
· If these aren't enough reasons to "eat an apple a day," there's more. Eating raw apples gives the gums a healthy massage and cleans the teeth. This popular fruit is said to have properties that are a muscle tonic, diuretic, laxative, antidiarrheal, antirheumatic, and stomachic.
Nutritional Benefits of Apples
· Unpeeled apples provide their most plentiful nutrients just under the skin. Apples are a good source of potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C.
· A medium apple, approximately 5 ounces, has only 81 calories and a whopping 3.7 grams of fiber from pectin, a soluble fiber. A medium apple supplies 159 mg of potassium, 3.9 mcg of folic acid, 7.9 mg of vitamin C, and 9.6 mg of calcium.
· Additionally, there are trace amounts of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc
· Apples keep best and longest when refrigerated. Unrefrigerated, apples can become mushy in just two or three days. Purchase them at farmers' markets where you know they have probably been picked the day before or at supermarkets where they are kept cool. Apples should be firm and blemish-free.
Myths, Legends & Folklore
Myths, legends and folklore involving apples abound in history and literature. Beginning with Adam and Eve or the anthropological data on Stone Age man in Europe, the apple was there. Greek and Roman mythology refer to apples as symbols of love and beauty. When the Romans conquered England about the first century B.C., they brought apple cultivation with them. In the 13th century BCE, Ramses II ordered cultivated varieties of apples planted in the Nile delta. In Attica, Greece, apples were being grown in a very limited quantity during the 7th century BCE. Since they were so expensive, it was decreed that a bridal couple would have to share one apple on their wedding night.
Pliny the Elder, a Roman statesman, circa 23 CE, described 37 different varieties of cultivated apples in his Historia naturalis. By the first century CE apples were being cultivated in every region throughout the Rhine Valley. Apple cultivation was gathering momentum. By the year 1640, horticulturist Parkinson noted 60 varieties, by 1669 the count was up to 92 varieties, and by 1866 Downing's Fruits notes 643 different cultivars.
More Myths, Legends, and Folklore
Irish folklore claims that if an apple is peeled into one continuous ribbon and thrown behind a woman's shoulder, it will land in the shape of the future husband's initials.
Danish folklore says that apples wither around adulterers.
Apples are said to increase a woman's chances of conception as well as remove birthmarks when rubbed on the skin.
According to a popular legend, Isaac Newton, upon witnessing an apple fall from its tree, was inspired to conclude that a similar 'universal gravitation' attracted the moon toward the Earth as well.
In Arthurian legend, the mythical isle of Avalon's name is believed to mean "isle of apples".
In the United States, Denmark and Sweden, an apple (polished) is a traditional gift for a teacher. This stemmed from the fact that teachers during the 16th to 18th centuries were poorly paid, so parents would compensate the teacher by providing food. As apples were a very common crop, teachers would often be given baskets of apples by students. As wages increased, the quantity of apples was toned down to a single fruit.
The Apple Wassail is a traditional form of wassailing practiced in cider orchards of southwest England during the winter. The ceremony is said to "bless" the apple trees to produce a good crop in the forthcoming season.
In Ancient Greece, a man throwing an apple to a woman was a proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted
New York City is often called "The Big Apple." The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930s who used the slang expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time - The Big Apple.
It is told that the prophet Mohammed inhaled the fragrance of an apple brought to him by an angel just before his last breath of life.
The History of William Tell (F)
The Story of Johnny Appleseed (From the National Apple Week Association, Inc.)
Snow White Legend - (an in-depth, fascinating essay on the apple in literature – not for children)