December Views - Apples
We had several apple trees on our place where I grew up in Knox County. We harvested the apples to eat fresh, use in pies, make into jelly, use in apple cake, and much more. The deer would “harvest” those that fell to the ground. I don’t know what kind of apples they were, but I do remember that they did not look like the ones I see in grocery stores today. Our apples were never perfect. They often had bruises or rust spots or other imperfections. That didn’t diminish their usefulness or our enjoyment of the fruit. It just seemed normal to me.
Have you ever wondered about the history of apples here in the United States? While history and legends found on the internet are not necessarily fact, stories about apple cultivation in the United States seem to have some points in common.
It is said that the Pilgrims discovered crabapples when they got to America. It was not a new food to them. In fact, apple cultivation in Europe was very common. Unfortunately, the crabapples they found here were not very edible. Not wanting to give up their apples, the residents of the Massachusetts Bay Colony requested apple seeds and cuttings from England. The seeds and cuttings were brought over on subsequent voyages. Other Europeans brought apple stock to Virginia and the Southwest. This resulted in a diversity of apple varieties being brought over and cultivated. As colonists moved, apple production moved with them. One source said that, as the country was settled, nearly every farm grew some apples.
Lisa Franzen, UNL Nutrition Specialist, said apples are one of the most popular fruits in the United States. Today, apples come in all shades of red, green and yellow. Apple varieties range in size from a little bigger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit. She provided the following information about apples.
• There are about 2,500 varieties grown in the United States with Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Fuji and Granny Smith typically available year round.
• Apples used in baking include Braeburn, Gala, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Honey Gold.
• Apples used in pies include Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonagold, Jonathan, and Granny Smith.
We’ve all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” According to Franzen, apples are nutritious. She provided the following nutrition facts.
• Apples have no fat, cholesterol, or sodium.
• Apples are a good source of fiber (soluble and insoluble.)
• Apples are a good source of vitamin C. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin.
• One raw 2 1/2-inch apple, fresh and with skin, has approximately 81 calories. Nutritional value will vary depending on variety and size.
If you are in the mood for an apple dessert after reading this article, try the following apple cake recipe. My mother used to make apple cake, and it is a tasty change from traditional apple pie.
Fresh Apple Cake
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
• Whipped cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir in apples. Add egg mixture in the well in flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick). Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely. If desired, top each serving with whipped cream.