Apples have been around forever it seems and they are still grown worldwide. Trees can be started from seed or grafting onto rootstocks. They have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. History credits Alexander the Great with finding dwarfed apples in 328 BCE. European colonists brought apples to North America in 1625. Between 1804 and 1905 there were 7,098 varieties of applies grown in the United States. As of 2001, 6,121 have become extinct. That leaves only 977 varieties in the United States. A wide range of insect pests and fungal and bacterial diseases have caused the decrease.

            Apples come in a variety of sizes, colors, and tastes. Gala, Golden Supreme, McIntosh, Sweet Bough, and Duchess are summer apples. During the fall, you can find Fuji, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Wealthy. Winter apple varieties are Winesap, Granny Smith, King, and Tolman Sweet. Apples range from the size of a small tomato to the size of a grapefruit. Ripe apples can be found in a variety of colors from red, yellow, green, pink, and tri-colored.

            Apples are eaten raw, cooked, or juiced. They can be canned, frozen, or dried. Young ones love their apple juice; older ones love their cider plain or mulled. Apples are used in bread stuffing, casserole dishes, and a variety of desserts. They are sliced, heated, and topped with cinnamon; a simple yet tasty side dish. They are added raw to salads. They are made into jams and jellies. They are put on or in pancakes. Apple slices are dipped in peanut butter or chocolate.

Dried apples make a great snack when on-the-go.

            In the United States apple orchards have Fall Festivals where reenactments of how apple butter was made in the colonial days are presented. Candy apples (apples coated with a hard shell of crystallized sugar syrup) are a treat at the festivals. In the United Kingdom toffee apples (apples coated in hot toffee and then allowed to cool) are the big hit with all ages.

            “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” originated from the 19th century Wales phrase,

“Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” N ear the end of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, the phrase evolved to “an apple a day, no doctor to pay” and “an apple a day sends the doctor away.”

            The above sayings are right on target. Apples do contain an abundance of nutritional value. They have been referred to as a nutritional powerhouse and a miracle fruit. Apples supply vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. The peel is extremely rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. They may have a positive effect on neurological health. They also help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals. Researchers have discovered that eating apples three times a week can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Apples may also lower the risk of stroke, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

On December 1, think of all the benefits apples provide and pack a shiny red one in your lunch because it is eat a red apple day!

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