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Apples a favorite fruit all over the world
November 6, 2012 - Anita Hanaburgh
Apples. Don’t you just love apples? It’s been a tough apple year, but it hasn’t affected the apple lovers.
This year’s apple crop was decimated by an unusually warm early spring, followed by a hard frost and then a dry summer. Nationally, the apple crop is estimated at 8 billion pounds, down from 9.4 billion pounds last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hail cut the crop in Washington state from what was expected to be a record harvest. Half of the growing apples were wiped out in New York state. Pennsylvania’s apple crop had a good year. Still, that didn’t erase the apple shortage. Nor does the apple shortage deter buyers. The demand is higher than ever, even with higher prices. Oh, busboy, don’t you just love apples?
Apples are all over the place. There are quotes about apples (“Don’t’ upset the apple cart”), cities named after them (the Big Apple), computers identified by them (hello, Steve Jobs), and countries compared to them (“as American as Apple Pie”).
Apple production ranks higher in volume than any other fruit in the world. It produces apples for eating, baking, caning, storing. It tastes good with pork yet is great in a salad and cherished for desserts. Its juice is used for cider, mixed with most mixed juices, in canned fruit, and loved by kids all by itself. This time-honored pome grows on every continent, excluding Antarctica.
Apples mature in the fall, “falling” from the tree just before maturity. October is the official apple month. Apples are best eaten fresh. They store well but lose quality with time. There are 112 six-ounce apples in a bushel and, with its Apple Dippers, McDonald’s is the largest user of apples in the country. The apple is part of the rose family, boasting pale pink blossoms that turn white before falling to the ground. The five pedal flowers compliment the apple’s cut core five-pointed star (sections). The apple blossom is the state flower of Arkansas.
Guess which state grows the most apples? No, it’s not New York but Washington state, and it grows almost twice as many as New York. Which country grows the most apples? Wrong again.
It’s Russia. And, again, it grows almost twice as many apples as we do.
Apples are believed to have originated near the Caspian Sea (and the Garden of Eden). This Adam’s temptress contains vitamins A and C and is a great source of potassium. According to Cornell University, the apple’s phytochemicals, found primarily in its skin, provide huge antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, keeps cancer at bay and helps prevent tooth decay.
There are 10,000 varieties of apples, and the number still is growing. Many varieties, such as the Cortland, were developed by the New York State Agricultural Experimental Station at Geneva, founded more than 125 years ago.
The red delicious is the most popular variety and widely sold throughout the country. The honeycrisp is new and much desired because of the sweetness and its explosive crispness. The Macoun has a perfumey taste, not my favorite.
The Cortland is the country’s best salad apple as it doesn’t turn brown quickly when cut and is snow white. It is by far my favorite, with its tart and sweet flavor. The Spigold is a large apple, sweet and crisp, that is great in dessert. For spies, think pies. These varieties were all found at our own Rogers’ Family Orchards in Johnstown.
The Granny Smith is grown primarily in New Zealand; that’s why we get them all year long. The skin is best removed as it is bitter and often oiled to preserve it during the transatlantic journey.
There really was a Granny Smith — the apple grew from her pile of discarded apples — and a Johnny Appleseed. Johnny, always barefoot, traveled hundreds of miles, planting seeds and tending orchards. A peculiar man who only slept outside, he left a legacy that still dots the hills of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
During my youth, I never ate an apple without my mom asking, “What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?” “Finding half of a worm!” I would always laugh in response. I guess some apples don’t fall far from the tree.
Apples make great dessert. Recipe to come next week!
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