apples

An apple is in the pome family – a fruit whose seeds are embedded in the core of the fruit. Another surprising member of this family is the rose.

When an apple is sliced in half, the apple core looks like a star.

It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.

The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)

Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.

It’s true an apple a day does keep the doctor away!

In the 2004 national bestseller “SuperFoods RX,” Dr. Steven Pratt revealed how 14 nutrients common to the most disease-preventing, anti-aging diets in the world exist in 14 “superfoods” easily found in your supermarket. His new book, “SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health” applies cutting-edge science to developing a healthy lifestyle.

Apples are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, polyphenols and potassium. Apples have proven themselves to be potent weapons against cancer, heart disease, asthma and Type II diabetes. They are also filled with super antioxidants. The antioxidant activity of approximately one apple is equivalent to about 1,500 mg of vitamin C. And don't peel the apple! The peel has two to six times more polyphenols and vitamin C than the flesh of the apple itself.

Try to eat: One apple a day

A Brief Apple History

The apple emerged as a celebrated fruit at the beginning of the people of Earth. Whether you start with Adam and Eve or the anthropological data on Stone Age man in Europe, the apple was there. Greek and Roman mythology refer to the apple as symbols of love and beauty. When the Romans conquered England about the first century B.C., they brought apple cultivation with them. William Tell gained fame by shooting an apple off his son's head at the order of the invaders of Switzerland.

The Pilgrims discovered crabapples had preceded them to America, but the fruit was not very edible. The Massachusetts Bay Colony requested seeds and cuttings from England, which were brought over on later voyages of the Mayflower. Other Europeans brought apple stock to Virginia and the Southwest, and a Massachusetts man, John Chapman, become famous for planning trees throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became known as Johnny Appleseed. Seeds from the apple given to a London sea captain in 1820 are sometimes said to be the origin of the State of Washington apple crop.

As the country was settled, nearly every farm grew some apples. Although some were very good, most of the early varieties would be considered poor today. Of nearly 8000 varieties known around the world, about 100 are grown in commercial quantity in the US, with the top 10 comprising over 90% of the crop.

Our modern orchards combine the rich heritage of apple growing with research and field trials to grow an annual US crop exceeding 220,000,000 bushels. New varieties are still being discovered and cultivated, with the best eventually becoming “household words like McIntosh, Delicious, Empire, Rome, Spartan, Cortland, Granny Smith, etc. Recent arrivals include Fuji, Braeburn, Liberty and more than a few “throwbacks” to antique varieties enjoying resurgence.

Clearly, an apple combines the best attributes of “something old and something new.”

Four Seasons of an Apple Orchard

The majority of apple orchards are family-run businesses, operated in cooperation with the laws of nature. Just as no two days are the same, no two days in the orchard are the same. An apple orchard is a busy place.

Winter In January, while the trees are dormant, pruning begins. Limbs are sawed off and clipped to allow maximum sunlight into the growth structure. Pruning allows the tree to produce larger, better colored, higher quality and more valuable fruit.

Spring April is the time to prepare for spring planting. The average tree will bear fruit in three years with full production coming in eight to ten years. Since apples do not grow true to their seeds, young trees that have been grown in a nursery from cuttings are transplanted to the orchard.

Sometime around the beginning of May, the buds begin to swell. Spring is near and the pace of the farm quickens.

Summer With the opening of the “king” blossom (the largest and center – most of the five-blossom clusters), it is time for pollination to begin. Bee colonies rented from bee keepers must be moved in quickly, usually at night so the bees are “home” and not in flight. Sunny mild days are needed during bloom to encourage strong bee activity.

In some dry years, irrigation must be used during July. Fruit size and firmness are affected by moisture in this critical month.

August is the last growing month before the apples begin to ripen. Red apples need the assistance of the cool nights during harvest to trigger an enzyme which increases the amount of color or “blush.”

Fall When picking begins around the end of August, there is a constant buss of activity until the last of the fruit comes off near the end of October. Now it becomes the job of the farmers to market their fruit; either through their own farm store of packed and shipped fresh to supermarkets, restaurants, and schools nationwide and around the globe.

Source: NY-NE Apple Institute, Westfield MA 01085

For Maine Apple Orchards go to: www.maineapples.org

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