Ever since Eve tempted Adam in the garden of Paradise with a sweet, glossy-red apple, the apple has continued to lure people with its sweetness. Despite its having been responsible for the fall of man, the forbidden fruit is actually held in high esteem by mankind as the “apple of my eye.” The apple has figured into myths, legends, superstitions and poetry. This crunchy, tangy fruit quite literally stems back to the beginning of time to forests of wild apples in Kazakhstan. Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since 6500 BC.
In the mountainous regions of Kazakhstan, apple trees can grow 60 feet tall at 10,000 feet in 1,300-foot-deep canyons. The amazing apples of its ancestral home show an intense resistance to disease and pests. Scientists believe that if these traits could be transferred to marketable varieties of apples, we could virtually eliminate the chemical sprays now used in orchards.
Apples are not native to America but were spread westward from Kazakhstan over thousands of years by early travelers along trade routes such as the Silk Road, eventually finding its way to our continent through European explorers. (Johnny Appleseed a.k.a. John Chapman really did help cultivate apples across America.) America had its own apple varieties adapted to the soil and climate of North America. At one time, there were more than 700 varieties of apples on our land, but now we are down to approximately 100 commercially grown. Most of the world’s commercial production is based on two varieties: Red and Golden Delicious and their offspring.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” An apple is loaded with nutritional value. Hold onto your bushel as we list all the surprisingly wonderful ways apples’ properties benefit us. Apples are:
• Low in calories.
• Full of fiber.
• Loaded with pectin, aiding digestion and reducing blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
• Cholesterol-lowering through the phenols they contain.
• Low in carbohydrates but high in filling your body with an energy-boosting snack.
• A fruit which helps fight osteoporosis.
• A rich antioxidant with flavonoids, aiding in the fight against cancer.
• A good source of potassium, folic acid and vitamin C.
• A tooth decay preventative – the juice of an apple can kill 80 percent of bacteria in the mouth.
• Beneficial in fighting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s via their phytonutrients.
• Contain a source of trace amounts of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc.
Apple season is from September through November, and the apple’s essence represents autumn to most of us. Make a day trip out of visiting nearby orchards to pick your own selection. Take home a bushel, bake your own apple pies, apple sauce, apple butter, apple crisps, baked apples, apple Bettys, or use them as tasty savory side dishes.
You can choose from mild and sweet-fleshed to lemony tart, but all apples will snap and crackle as you bite into them. The crispy apple holds promise of a juicy flesh. Mix firm varieties with softer fleshed varieties for interesting taste and texture combinations. For the recipe of the month, try an easier-than-pie Apple Pie.
OLD-FASHIONED APPLE PIE
- 2 9” unbaked pie crusts
- 7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples (try a Rome Beauty/Cortland mix)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 425°
- In a bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Place mixture in a pastry-lined 9” pie plate. Dot with butter and adjust top crust that has been vented.
- Place in oven and bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 275° and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender. Let cool and serve.