(see also CRAB APPLE)
This fruit of legends - ranging from the tale of an apple as the cause of the Trojan War to the steady hand and eye of William Tell - is classified, along with the pear, as a pome fruit (meaning one with a compartmented core), and in fact “pome” means apple in Latin. Over 7,000 varieties of the apple (Pyrus malus or Malus domestica) are grown worldwide, and no wonder, for apple trees are valued not only for their fruit but also for their beauty in gardens and on lawns. Once the tree begins to bear fruit (after some 5 to 10 years for regular trees, but only 2 to 3 years for dwarf trees), it will continue to do so for upward of a century. Cultivated apples are descendants of wild or crab apples and are believed to have originated in Southwest Asia and the region around the Mediterranean. However, because crab apples still grow wild in Central Asia and Europe, some would widen the area of origin. Evidence indicates that this fruit, reputed to be the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden, was being cultivated and stored at least 5,000 years ago, and probably long before that. Apples were grown by the Etruscans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans and, as with so many other food plants, were spread about Europe within the Roman Empire and thus have been cultivated there for at least 2,000 years. Apples reached the Americas in the seventeenth century with the early colonists, and today about 2,500 varieties are grown in the United States alone. Only 16, however, account for over 90 percent of the total U.S. production, about half of which goes into apple products such as cider, juice, applesauce, and the like. The leading 8 of the top 16, which account for 80 percent of U.S. production, are as follows:
Golden Delicious, which when ripe is yellow and is the most widely consumed apple in the world. It was developed by accident in West Virginia toward the end of the nineteenth century.
Granny Smith, a pale green apple, originated in Australia at about the middle of the nineteenth century. It is good eaten raw, is used for juice, and is suitable for general baking, for stuffing, for chutneys, and for salsas.
Jonathan, a dark red and juicy apple, is used for juice and applesauce as well as for baking and stuffings.
McIntosh is a greenish red apple that is good eaten raw and is used for juice and applesauce.
Red Delicious, a red apple with crisp, juicy flesh, is the most popular apple in the United States.
Rome Beauty, a red or red-striped apple, is favored for baking but is a bit mealy for eating out of hand.
Stayman is a purplish apple for all-purpose use.
York, also called York Imperial, is another good baking apple. It has a pink skin.
Other apples have somewhat specific uses. The Gravenstein is used mostly for applesauce; the Northern Spy is good for pies; the Winesap is a favorite for making cider. The sour crab apple is used for making jellies.
Most apples have a high sugar content, are low in tannin, and are slightly acidic. They are only a fair source of minerals, but they provide some vitamin A and have a good measure of vitamin C in their peels. Because apples are high in sugar, they are also high in carbohydrates.
Common names and synonyms: Cider apple, cooking apple, crab (wild) apple, dessert apple, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Jonathan, McIntosh, Northern Spy, pippin, pome(-fruit), Red Delicious, Rome Beauty, Rome Delicious, Russet, Stayman, Winesap, Yellow Delicious, York, York Imperial.
We're sorry this article wasn't helpful. Tell us how we can improve.