Created | Updated Dec 6, 2016
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
- JT Stinson in an address to the St Louis Exposition, 1904
A round, firm fruit with juicy flesh; the tree bearing this fruit, Malus pumila, comes from the family Rosaceae (rose family). There are many, many types of apples grown all over the world today and these can be divided into eating, cooking and cider apples.
Varieties of Apple
There are over 7,000 different types of apple in the world, which include:
- Braeburn – New Zealand – excellent for eating, juice, salads and baking
- Bramley – Nottingham, UK - often found in pies
- Cortland – America - excellent for eating, salads, sauce, pies and baking
- Elstar - snacking, salads and cooking
- Fuji - cooking
- Gala - eat fresh
- Golden Delicious – America - eating apple
- Granny Smith - Australia - baking, sauce, juice
- Jonagold - cooking, baking, eating fresh, put in salads
- Jonathon – New York – eaten fresh, or used in cider and sauces
- McIntosh – Canada - excellent for eating and sauce - good for salads and pies
- Newtown Pippin – Long Island - to be eaten fresh, cooked or in cider
- Red Delicious - America - good for salads
- Rome Beauty – America - sauce, pies, baking, cider
- Stayman – America - fresh, apple sauce, pies, baking
- Winesap - cooking and eating fresh
- York Imperial – America - sauce, pies, baking
The apple dates to the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago and even appears in the English translation of the Bible as the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. It is commonly known that the thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx has been called Adam's apple as a reminder of the biblical event. The apple also appears in the European fairytale Snow White and in the legend of Sir Isaac Newton discovering universal gravitation. Apples are also mentioned in Greek mythology, Norse mythology, Celtic mythology and classic mythology, where they have taken up numerous symbolic meanings such as love, beauty, luck, health, comfort, pleasure, wisdom, temptation, sensuality, sexuality, virility, fertility and the downfall of humankind. This reflects that, historically, not only is the apple a source of food, but it signifies various other human emotions.
Grow Your Own
Prepare the ground
Before planting your apple trees make sure the soil they will grow in is sufficiently prepared by adding compost and organic matter. Place mulch around the tree on planting and repeat every spring. If frosts are usual where the apple trees are to be planted, make sure a layer of fleece covers the tree too, as this will protect the trees blossoms when they start to appear. Plant the apple trees in a sunny position during late autumn-early spring and take into account what type of apple tree is being planted when figuring out how far apart they will be planted.
Planting your tree
When planting apple trees it is best to choose an apple tree that reflects the type of gardener you are, while also considering the amount of room you have available in your garden.
Almost all varieties of apple trees have a chill requirement for blossoms or fruit to properly set. It's almost impossible to grow apples in Los Angeles, but there is a nearby town called Apple Valley. Much better crops are obtained if you have two different kinds of apple trees for cross pollination.
Shaping your tree
When planting your tree also take into account how the tree should look. Many varieties are grafted on rootstocks, which will determine the speed of the apple tree's growth and its ultimate size.
Before pruning it is essential to be clued up on the basic pruning methods, thinning cuts and heading cuts. These help greatly when growing apple trees. Use them to remove diseased limbs, which may have become contaminated through disease-contaminated gardening tools. Cut off unproductive growth to encourage new growth, ensuring you cut suckers off as flush to the trunk as possible. Making these cuts will help light reach the tree, letting it grow even more.
Feeding and watering
As apple trees grow, make sure they get plenty of light - if any branches are crossing be sure to undo this as it will cut off the light source to the tree otherwise. Water trees regularly until they are established.
Many apples are harvested in autumn, before the frosts kick in. If an apple is ripe it will come away from the tree with a simple twist of the hand; if a firm tug is needed, then it isn't ready to be eaten. Ripe apples also often have a delicious smell that is distinct from the green apple odour. The shelf-life of these apples is measured in hours or maybe days, not weeks or months.
For apples to taste their best in late winter, they should be harvested 'early' (ie, when unripe) and stored somewhere cool and dry like a garden shed. Warm temperatures make apples get softer faster. They also tend to absorb flavours from strong-scented foods, so keep them wrapped in newspaper, once a damp cloth has been run over them to take away excess moisture. Generally, the later fruiting varieties react better to being stored than the early fruiting varieties. To store the apples make sure you pick the best ones - those that are blemish-free, firm and relatively heavy for their size. Bad apples will be blemished and may even possess rot or worm holes.
Pests and Diseases
The amount pests and diseases affect apple trees depends on the area they are grown in. To help keep pests and diseases at bay, make sure the tree is clear from any sign of disease, regularly dispose of fallen leaves and keep the storage area clean. Pests and diseases known to affect apple trees are mildew, aphids, apple sawfly, winter moth, codling moth, woolly aphids, canker, bitter pit, and brown rotand scab.
People should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, balanced diet, and the delicious apple provides one option. Apples consist of around 10% carbohydrate, 4% vitamins and minerals, 80% water and possess a dietary fibre in their skins and core. A medium-sized eating apple contains about 40 calories. One kilo of fresh apples provides approximately 2100kJ (500 kcal) of energy. If you leave out the core and peel then you are halving your intake of vitamin C. Put simply, apples are a healthy source of food that provide benefits to the body; they can help reduce the risk of cancer and help to maintain healthy lungs, weight and cholesterol levels. Apples also provide chemicals that can protect the brain from triggers that cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
As mentioned, apples are an excellent source of fibre, while being free of fat, sodium, and cholesterol. They are rich in phytochemicals, which may help prevent heart disease.
Quercetin is also sourced from apples (alongside Bromelain which is sourced from pineapples) and this can help prevent gout.
Apples are also known to be rich in pectin, which is a jellifying agent, and so either apples or pectin itself are added to homemade jams and jellies to facilitate setting. Pectin will cause a haze in homemade wines, and so pectolytic enzyme is often added to home-made wines where the fruit has a high pectin content (apples, for instance). Pectin can also be extracted from apples and put into other fruit dishes which lack their own pectin. It can also be purchased, but this is more expensive. If you don't want the apples to flavour the jam or jelly, then you extract the pectin from the apples and add that.
Finally, apples can provide the base ingredient for a tasty fruit salad. It's also worth noting that apples dipped in honey are a traditional treat for Rosh Hashanah, the idea being that your new year should start out sweet.
Over the years, there have also been numerous songs with apples being mentioned in them.
- 'The Apple Song' - Calibretto 13 (and The Sassy Lassies)
- 'Apple' – Atmosphere
- 'When Will The Good Apples Fall' - The Seekers
- 'Adam's Apple' – Aerosmith
- 'Oranges On Apple Trees' - A-Ha
- 'Rotten Apple' - 50 Cent
- 'Apple Shampoo' - Blink 182
- 'Apple Scruffs' - George Harrison
- 'Eve Gave Adam the Apple' - Marie-Lynn Hammond
- 'Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White' - Perez Prado
- 'Big Apple Heartbreak' – Yellowcard
- 'One Bad Apple' - The Osmonds
- 'The Apple Stretching' - Grace Jones
- 'BA, Buenos Aires, Big Apple' - from Evita
Nursery rhymes also contain references to apples such as 'If All the World Were Apple Pie'.