Take Your Pick Of Ap­ple His­tory And Trivia

Escalon Times - - PERSPECTIVE -

Though ap­ples are en­joyed across the globe, many peo­ple as­so­ciate ap­ples with the United States of Amer­ica. That’s in spite of the fact that the first ap­ples were cul­ti­vated on the op­po­site side of the world from North Amer­ica in Asia.

There are more than 7,500 known cul­ti­vars of ap­ples that pro­duce var­i­ous char­ac­ter­is­tics for fla­vor and ap­pear­ance. Ap­ples are of­ten a topic of dis­cus­sion in the fall, when many trees pro­duce their largest boun­ties of fruit. Au­tumn is a good time of year to take a closer look at ap­ples, and ex­plore some of the most pop­u­lar va­ri­eties for pick­ing and eat­ing.

Ap­ple ori­gins

Malus de­o­mes­tica, or the com­mon ap­ple tree, is a de­scen­dent of ap­ple trees that orig­i­nated in Cen­tral Asia in what is now south­ern Kaza­khstan. Ap­ples have been grown for thou­sands of years in Asia and Europe. The orig­i­nal ap­ple tree was the wild ap­ple, or Malus siev­er­sii. DNA anal­y­sis has con­firmed that the wild ap­ple is the pro­gen­i­tor of the cul­ti­vated ap­ple en­joyed to­day.

Euro­pean colonists likely brought ap­ple seeds and trees with them when they em­i­grated to North Amer­ica, in­tro­duc­ing that part of the world to the ap­ple tree. Records from the Mas­sachusetts Bay Com­pany in­di­cate that ap­ples were be­ing grown in New Eng­land as early as 1630. Amer­i­cans also en­joy the pop­u­lar story of Johnny Ap­ple­seed, who was be­lieved to have dis­trib­uted ap­ple seeds and trees to set­tlers across the United States.

While ap­ples can be pro­duced from seeds, nowa­days many ap­ples are prop­a­gated by graft­ing so that they re­tain the par­ent trees’ char­ac­ter­is­tics of fla­vor, har­di­ness and in­sect re­sis­tance.

Ap­ples and sym­bol­ism

Ap­ples have be­come the main sym­bols of many dif­fer­ent sto­ries and tales through­out his­tory. Ap­ples are linked to the Bi­b­li­cal tale of Adam and Eve and their ul­ti­mate ex­pul­sion from the Gar­den of Eden.

How­ever, the ap­ple is never named in any of the re­li­gious texts as the fruit Eve picked from the tree of knowl­edge.

Ap­ples have ap­peared in fairy tales and folk­lore. The Brothers Grimm had the char­ac­ter ‘Snow White’ fall ill after eat­ing a poi­soned ap­ple. In Norse mythol­ogy, the god­dess Iounn was the ap­pointed keeper of golden ap­ples that kept the Ae­sir young for­ever.

Ap­ples have also played a role in sci­ence, most no­tably Sir Isaac New­ton’s study of grav­ity. While myth sur­rounds the story of New­ton and an ap­ple fall­ing from a nearby tree, it’s likely that wit­ness­ing an ap­ple fall from a tree did spark some­thing in the famed sci­en­tist.

Most pop­u­lar ap­ple va­ri­eties

Many va­ri­eties of ap­ple stand out as peren­nial fa­vorites. In the United States, the Red De­li­cious is the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar grown ap­ple. It was called the hawk­eye when dis­cov­ered in 1872. The Golden De­li­cious is the sec­ond most pop­u­lar grown ap­ple in Amer­ica. The De­li­cious ap­ples tend to have mild, but grainy flesh that can fall apart when cooked, so they’re best used for snack­ing. Cort­land, Em­pire, Fuji, Gala, McIn­tosh, and Ma­coun are some of the other most pop­u­lar va­ri­eties.

Those in­ter­ested in bak­ing with ap­ples can se­lect among Granny Smith, Jon­agold and McIn­tosh. Th­ese ap­ples tend to be crisp and tart and hold up bet­ter in recipes.

Ap­ples have been en­joyed for thou­sands of years. While ap­ples are a sta­ple of au­tumn, they can be en­joyed all year long thanks to their widespread avail­abil­ity.

Ap­ples are a pop­u­lar sight come the fall. Th­ese de­li­cious fruits have long been en­joyed and stud­ied.

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