- More Apple Legends and Lore
- Apple Varieties
- Ali's Not-so-Famous Apple Pie
- Yummy Stuff to Make with Apples
As one of the world's most versatile fruits, you'll find this slice of heaven in almost everything—from tart to sweet to savory dishes. It's pressed into cider and poured into sippy cups. Dipped in caramel, the apple is a staple in our fall celebrations. We pack it in lunches and garnish our salads. Our moms make it into classic pies, tarts and cobblers. A stop at your local bakery yields muffins, breads, Danishes and fritters—all made from this unassuming, yet perfect, fruit—the Apple.
A Bit of Apple History
There are more than 10,000 different varieties of apples grown in the world today. With this fruit's long history, it's no wonder that so many varieties have been cultivated over the centuries.
Apples go way back. In fact, carbonized remains of apples have been found in prehistoric lake dwellings in Switzerland, and there's also evidence that apples were not only eaten, but preserved, during the Stone Age.
The earliest known writings that include references to apples come from first-century Chinese and Egyptian records. They refer to the art of budding and grafting apple trees…more than 20 centuries ago.
Fast forward to the apple's place in early American history. When the colonists first arrived from England, they found only crab apples growing naturally. For a culture that grew up on baked apples and hot apple cider, it was a tough time.
"There are more than 10,000 different varieties of apples grown in the world."
Adam & Eve...and the Forbidden Fruit
According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve lived a pretty lush life in the Garden of Eden. They were allowed to eat fruit from any tree—except for one, "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
As we all know, they nibbled—and were expelled from paradise. But how did the apple get the bad rap as the fruit of the forbidden tree? It's not mentioned in the original text. In fact, historians say that other fruits had been suggested before the apple, including grapes, figs and citrons (a lemon-like fruit).
Some speculate that early Christian scholars' translations used the word "apple" instead of "fruit." Even Greek mythology incorporates apples as a metaphor for good and evil.
Our early artisans also seemed to prefer the apples as a representation of the forbidden fruit. Carved depictions of Adam and Eve with apples have been found in early Christian catacombs. In 12th century French and German art, this historic scene is always depicted with an apple. Only the Byzantine and Italian artists opted for the less popular "fig."
"But how did the apple get the bad rap as the fruit of the forbidden tree?"
Cue Johnny Appleseed…
This legendary figure was born John Chapman in Leominster, MA. He was considered eccentric, and was often spotted walking with ragged clothes and a pot on his head.
In the early 1800s, he began wandering the frontier, planting apple seeds as he went. He soon became known as "Johnny Appleseed." His mission was to make the wilderness a home for the pioneers heading west. Chapman would ultimately plant over a thousand acres of apple orchards in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. Some of those trees still survive today.
"Johnny Appleseed' planted over a thousand acres of apple orchards..."
You're the Apple of My Eye
Fortunately, the Adam and Eve connotations didn't quell our love for this beloved fruit. In fact, the Bible itself uses a variation of this phrase several times in its text.
In literature, "The apple of my eye" phrase first appeared in an 885 A.D. English work, Gregory's Pastoral Care, referring to someone cherished above all others. Shakespeare used the phrase in A Midsummer Night's Dream when referring to Cupid's arrow.
Today, this phrase is bantered about as frequently as the word "smitten"—it's still in our vocabulary, but not as popular as it once was. That didn't stop one mom from writing this little ditty about her daughter, now featured on YouTube.You're my Honeybunch, Sugarplum Pumpy-umpy-umpkin,
You're my Sweetie Pie
You're my Cuppycake, Gumdrop Snoogums-Boogums,
You're the Apple of my Eye.
What's the Best Apple for the Job… Getting to the Core of the Matter.
Although the history, myths, songs and stories about apples are intriguing, what has made the apple one of America's favorite foods is its taste—and versatility.
Buying tips: Select apples that are firm, deeply colored and an average size. Reject those that have soft spots or broken skins. Though apples are now available throughout the year, be sure to take advantage of fall's apple harvest when you'll find better quality, more options and lower prices.
"What has made the apple one of America's favorite foods is its taste and versatility."
In searching for the best apple pie recipe, we found local home baker Ali McKenzie. She may not have the notoriety of a Paula Deen or Martha Stewart—but she makes one of the best darn pies we've ever eaten. (And we've eaten plenty!) Enjoy.Pie filling ingredients:
Tip: Prepare your pie crust before making filling. (See recipe below.)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. corn starch
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 6 average-size Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored & sliced)
Pour apple mixture into pie crust. (Save some of the syrup to brush on top of the crust.) Cover your pie with either a full or lattice crust. Bake for 1 hour or until apples are soft
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (chilled)
- 1/2 cup shortening (frozen or chilled)
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1/2 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar
Apple Pancakes. Sauté apple slices in butter with a pinch of cinnamon. Pour slices over warm pancakes.
Freeze 'em! Savor the taste of local apples all winter long. Just core, peel and slice them. Sprinkle with lemon juice (to prevent browning). Pack in freezer bags and place in freezer. These are perfect for apple butter, applesauce, pies and cakes.
Applesauce popsicles. Fill a Popsicle mold with applesauce and freeze. It's that easy!
Salads. Add chopped apples, goat cheese and walnuts to a green salad. Also try blue cheese and pine nuts.
Snack time. Sliced apples are delicious with cold wedges of cheddar cheese. Try dipping them in caramel sauce, peanut butter or chocolate syrup.
Everything's better with apples!