"A" is for Apple


An apple a day keeps the doctor away. The apple does not fall far from the tree. You are the apple of my eye. An apple for the teacher. Apple polisher. The Big Apple. Adam’s apple. The Apple Dumpling Gang. Apple pie. Apple cobbler. Apple cider. Apple sauce. 

One could go on and on endlessly, as apples are nearly as popular in literature and culture as they are on the table - or maybe more so. They are the symbolic downfall of the human race back in the Garden of Eden, the device used by the wicked queen to practically kill poor, sweet Snow White, the supposed target used by William Tell to show off his archery prowess, and the agricultural product sewn across the country (well, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio at least) by traditionally pan-hat wearing Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman. Even my favorite, Dr. Seuss, wrote of apples in the classic children’s book, Ten Apples on Top.


Apples (Malus domestica) are in the rose family and come in more different cultivars than the average teenager has pieces of clothes on her bedroom floor (some of my research lists nearly eight thousand variations - I counted). Apples were first grown for human consumption in Kazakhstan and were carried east by traders on the Silk Road (an intricate network of trade routes connecting the Asian continent with the Mediterranean as well as parts of Africa and Europe).  Apples eventually found their way to North America via settlers in the 17th century.

Before I moved back to Washington State, I got excited if I found good apples for under $2 a pound (my favorites are Honey Crisps and Pink Ladies). Imagine my pleasure when I saw the 4x4 tri-wall of monster sized Fuji apples for $.68 a pound and then a few days later, deep red – almost black – Red Delicious for the same price. I was finally back in apple country (indeed, more than half of those consumed in the USA are grown in Washington – about 4 billion pounds – yes…that’s billion with a “b”).  


Apples are nutritious, delicious, and amazingly versatile.  According to the Washington State Apple Commission, in addition to providing a myriad of other health benefits including prevention of heart disease, cancer and stroke, one apple has 20% of a body’s daily fiber along with potassium, vitamin C and a bit of vitamin A, iron and calcium. (Maybe they really can keep the doctor away.)  Apples can be used in both sweet and savory cooking; eaten raw, baked, boiled, broiled, dried or fried; made into juice, jelly, bread, crisp, crunch, crumble or compote; or utilized whole, diced, shredded, quartered, chopped, or chunked (peeled or not). There is an apple for every job and a job for every apple. Braeburns are primo in pie.  Galas are good for sauce and salad.  Red delicious are the best straight-up snacking apple – eaten raw with a smear of peanut butter or a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. And, Granny Smith and Yellow Delicious are the numero uno all-around apples good for everything from pies and preserves and even freeze well for use on a rainy (snowy) day (I did not know that!).   


I usually try to eat the apples when the skin is still glossy and smooth and the flesh is crisp and juicy.  However, sometimes one or two or a few get a little far gone (mangy, I say) and then I love to make baked apples.  It is a cinchy but well received recipe.  Preheat the oven to 350, grease a shallow baking pan and core, but not peel, the apples and set in the dish.  Combine 2T of brown sugar, 1/4t cinnamon and 1T chopped pecans (if desired) per apple and pack the mixture inside the hole.  Wedge 1T butter (cut in half) inside each and place the dish in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the apples are tender when pierced with a toothpick.  Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or not.  Yum!

Our new house has several apple trees right in the yard, which is fortunate, as we are miles and miles from the doctor. So, I look forward to growing my own power packed pommes this spring...and I wonder what kind we have.   

Thanks to the Washington State Apple Commission for the "Core Facts": www.bestapples.com

3 comments:

  1. You have a nice looking blog- I googled it after reading your dilemma on Serious Eats. You should keep writing!

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  2. Wow! Thank you kindly. I shall...

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  3. I, too, found you via Serious Eats. Happy blogging! :)

    ReplyDelete