The Indomitable Apple in Historic Relief

Apples are a symbol of purity and good health. With this symbolism in mind, students have given teachers an apple to show appreciation. Some slogans we are all familiar with are: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, a child is the apple of his parents eye, and we all want a slice of apple pie. Let us not forget calling someone a bad apple. Apples have been read about, talked about and eaten throughout history.

Ranging from tart to sweet in taste and crisp to soft in texture, apples are one of our favorite fruits. In our pies, on our waffles, or quickly grabbed for a snack from the fruit bowl, apples are interwoven into our lives. An integral part of our past, and sure to be included in our future, and if we are lucky, for dessert.

The origin of apples can be traced back as far in time to Adam and Eve. Eve ate the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. It is still being debated exactly where the first apple tree bloomed. One theory is the first apple plant grew in Alma-Ata, meaning mother of apples, located in Kazakhstan, now part of Russia. Kazakhstan was once a section of Central Asia.

Ancient Egyptians grew apple trees, as did the Greeks and Romans. It’s still debated as to who was first, but the Greeks are said to be the first to grow fertile trees, with the sweet taste we so love to consume today. When immigrating to the New World, European settlers brought apple trees over to cultivate and harvest. That being said, the pilgrims were the first to plant apple trees in the United States. “They planted their first trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”

In American history, Johnny Chapman spent close to 50 years planting apple trees. An American folk hero and legend, popularly known as Johnny Appleseed, he would carry a bag of apple seeds and plant them in the mid-western states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He helped others to plant and cultivate apples, and in return some of them would give him food and a place to rest. It takes 4-5 years for an apple treat to fruit, so Johnny would visit people often, keeping an eye on the apple trees. His original orchards can still be found and descendants of his original apple trees are still produced today.

An interesting fact of history is apples were used to make alcohol before being utilized for the delicious recipes we make today. The first apple ciders had a pizzazz we now add to our mixed drinks. It was more popular than coffee in days of old.

More than 7000 varieties of apples exist around the world. Out of the over 2000 in the United States, only 100 are commercially grown. Some of those are Cortland, McIntosh, Red Delicious, and Braeburn.

For snacking, McIntosh is considered to be the best, with Red Delicious coming a close second. Some of the best varieties for baking are Braeburn, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.

Now that fall is here, apples are ripe for the picking. Apple dumplings, fresh apple muffins, or homemade applesauce are all recipes that will spice up this autumn. Celebrate this colorful season with your favorite recipe, or try a new one. Whether a novice or culinary expert, its a perfect time to celebrate apples.

Sources:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mjappleseed.html
http://www.geocities.com/perfectapple/history.html
http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/apples/facts.html (quote of planting in Bay Colony)

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