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Apple Lore


Give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard

-Walt Whitman


  • The Tree
  • More widely grown than any other tree fruit, the apple originally grew wild in Europe and western Asia.
  • Apples were cultivated and prized in ancient Rome, and brought to England by the conquering legions. The immigrant apple came to America with the early English settlers. Now widely cultivated in all temperate regions, the apple has become so cherished as a typical American product that we often say something is as "American as apple pie".
  • The apple tree is a member of the rose family. Wild apple trees, called crab apples, also grow in the U.S. 

The Fruit

  • Most apples are eaten raw. They are also used for making jellies, pies, puddings, applesauce, dumplings, cakes, cookies, juice, cider, and vinegar.
  • Fresh, raw apples are about 84% water. They are high in fruit sugars and fiber, and aid digestion.
  • There are nearly 10,000 varieties of apples. More than 7000 are grown in the U.S., but most are found only in home gardens. Commercial growers grow only those varieties that are in demand and that ship without damage. Approximately 20 varieties make up about 90% of the apples produced in the U.S.

Growing your own!

  • Apple Trees are usually grown using a grafting process called budding. Consequently, planting a seed from an apple you've eaten will more than likely not result in a tree bearing similar apples. Grafted starter trees are available from apple tree nurseries and can be mail-ordered.
  • Some heritage varieties can be grown from seed, but most of these are home-grown or collector varieties.

The Folk Tradition

  • Despite popular beliefs, apples are not specifically mentioned in the Bible story of Adam and Eve. The text refers to the "fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden" (Gen. iii,3). In fact, it's believed that the mention of an"apple" in the Song of Solomon, and in Joel, is probably reference to the apricot or orange, which flourished in Asia Minor and were referred to as "apples of gold" in Proverbs.
  • Interestingly, the apple tree is the central tree of heaven in Iroquois mythology and, in a Wyondot myth, an apple tree shades the lodge of the Mighty Ruler.
  • The apple tree and its fruit appear in Scandinavian, Irish, Icelandic, Teutonic, Breton, English, and Arabian folklore.
  • In mythology and folklore, apples have power in addition to taste:
  • • a means to immortality
  • • an emblem of fruitfulness
  • • an offering or distraction in suitor contests
  • • a means of divination
  • • a test of chastity , a love charm
  • • a magic object , a cure
  • The golden apples of the Hesperides were sought by Hercules for their ability to give immortality. In Scandinavia, the perpetual youth apples were kept by Idhunn in Asgard.
  • An apple tossed to Conie, son of Conn, by the woman from the Land of the Living provided sustenance to him for a month, but made him long for her and her land, as was her plan.
  • Gna, messenger of the Scandinavian Frigga, dropped an apple to King Rerir who ate it with his wife, who then bore a child. Frey sent eleven golden apples to Gerda as a marriage offer.
  • The Greek goddess Atalanta was won by a suitor who threw down golden apples to distract her from their race, which he then won.
  • An apple in the Arabian Nights cured every ill.
  • In Black American folklore, apple-shaped birthmarks can be cured by rubbing with an apple and eating apples.
  • In Danish, German, and English folklore, and in voodoo, apples are used as love charms.
  • A Danish fairytale uses an apple as a chastity test. The apple fades if the owner is unfaithful.
  • Apples are used in divination in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. In fact, the custom of diving for apples and catching one on a string is a remnant of druidic divination.
  • The Apple of Discord, inscribed For the Fairest, was given by Paris to Aphrodite, causing a quarrel among the goddesses and helping to bring about the Trojan War.

Johnny Appleseed

  • John Chapman (1774-1845), an eccentric, itinerant pioneer nurseryman and colporteur, has been enshrined in American historical, literary, and folk tradition.
  • He won the respect of settlers and Native Americans alike as he made his way from his native Massachusetts to the Pennsylvania/ Ohio/Indiana frontier, planting apple nurseries, spreading "news right fresh from heaven", mediating and healing. He exchanged his apple seeds and seedlings for food, cast-off clothing and articles and frontier currency enough to take care of his simple needs. Profits went for copies of Swedenborg's works, which he separated into parts for wider and cheaper distribution.
  • He's generally pictured as a bearded, bare-foot, kindly traveler with a mushpot or paste-board hat on his head and a sack on his back.
  • Memorials to Johnny Appleseed include the Johnny Appleseed Apple, Johnny weed (dog fennel, which he also planted along with other medicinal herbs) and Johnny Appleseed Week, celebrated in Ohio the last week of September.

Keep it in apple pie order

  • An apple a day?
  • Golden Delicious apples are the most popular yellow apples in the U.S. They are good in pies or eaten fresh.
  • Cortland apples are used in salads due to the fact that they don't turn brown as quickly as other apples do when sliced.
  • Gravenstein apples are thought to have come from castle Gravenstein (Denmark) in the 1600's. Today they are grown in the U.S. and Europe.
  • McIntosh apples are popular in the U.S. and Canada. They are eaten fresh or made into applesauce. They serve as a parent to some newer breeds such as the Cortland.
  • Jonathan apples are eaten fresh, baked into pies, and processed commercially into a wide range of products.
  • York Imperial apples have an odd lopsided shape as if they were leaning over.
  • Granny Smith apples have a tart taste and are often baked into pies. They are grown in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
  • Cox's Orange Pippins are famous for their orange color. They are one of the most popular apples grown in England.
  • Delicious apples total one-third of the apples raised in the U.S. Sweet and juicy, they're usually eaten fresh out of hand.
  • Rome Beauty apples, because of their size, may be cored, filled with raisins, and baked in the oven.
  • Rhode Island Greening apples are excellent for pies because they don't wilt and turn mushy when baked.
  • Winesap apples were grown by early pioneers for apple cider. Today they're raised in the northwest and in the Appalachian Valley.
  • One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away

William Tell

  • In Austria-ruled Switzerland, William Tell refused to bow in homage to an Austrian nobleman's hat placed in the Town Square. He was forced to shoot an apple off his son's head as punishment. Ultimately he played an important role in Swiss independence.

Sir Isaac Newton

  • Newton's formulation of the laws of gravity was supposedly prompted by the fall of an apple onto his head.

You need to know!

  • The projection in the neck formed by the thyroid cartilage is supposed to havebeen caused by a piece of the "apple" caught in Adam's throat.
  • 1 lb of apples = 3-4 medium = 3 cups sliced
  • According to the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago, the smell of green apples helps relieve claustrophobia.
  • There is small choice in rotten apples.
  • Don't upset the apple cart.
  • The apple of your eye is actually your pupil.
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