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Monday, October 6, 2008

National Apple Month

"Experience has shown that science frequently develops most fruitfully once we learn to examine the things that seem the simplest, instead of those that seem the most mysterious." Marvin Minsky

Perhaps, it is human nature to accept the obvious and then take it for granted. Take for instance the apple.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Apple in the morning - Doctor's warning
Roast apple at night - starves the doctor outright
Eat an apple going to bed - knock the doctor on the head

Three each day, seven days a week - ruddy apple, ruddy cheek
To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg his bread

As with many old wives' tales it seems we just never listen.

One of the most popular quotations of the 19th Century was "An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Before the 20th century there was no food pyramid or someone to announce the importance of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. People simply recognized the healthy attributes of the apple. Some people were also well aware of the apple's relationship to the history of the world. Author-naturalist Henry David Thoreau wrote, It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man. source

It's National Apple Month!

Let's get cracking. It's National Apple Month! Now really, can you think of a better month to celebrate National Apple Month? Golden, Gala, Red Delicious, McIntosh, heck even Jonathan (does the name Johnny Apple seed ring a bell:) all speak to the colors of autumn. Autumn, Autumn, we've arrived. And, we're bringing more than 2,500 other colorful varieties with us darned in all their Octoberfest shades of reds, greens, and yellows the bobbing apples fall.

Luckily for ghosts and globlins who bob for apples on Halloween, 20 to 25 percent of an apple's volume is air- much more than in most fruits. The cells in apple tissue fit imperfectly together. Air sits in the spaces between the cells, not only making apples buoyant, but making a just-picked apple "crack" as you take that first bite. source

Sitting before me on my desk, I have the icon of the computer industry, the Apple. American as apple pie...or is it? The crabapple is the only apple native to North America. Now, I don't know about you but, I've never baked anything with crabapples. I've considered trying my hand at making crabapple wine but, probably never will. It's pretty much on the bottom of my "someday" list right along with Crabapple schnapps. Spiced Crabapples tickle my fancy. I may have to try them soon. I found a recipe over at Olde Time Cooking with Chef Brad. I had never stumbled upon the site before. I think I may go back. It's my "kinda" place. It has a growing list of recipes, cooking trivia, cooking definitions, a monthly food question, spice of the month (which includes history and uses,) and to top it off, a monthly blue plate special with a real "old time meal" menu.

"English to the core," well ever since Roman times anyway, apple seeds arrived in America with the English colonists in 1620. The early orchards produced very few apples. You can find out why within the History and Legends of apples at the What's Cooking America website. There's bushels of pippins there. Oh alright, I'll give you a hint, the dilemma involves bees, or lack of...

Take a bite out of this. Almost one out of every four apples harvested in the United States is exported. In The Fruit Cultivator's Manual this is what gardener, seedsman and New York florist, Thomas Bridgeman wrote in 1917.

The Apple being so closely connected with our wants and enjoyments, is entitled to the first notice in the catalogue of our fruits. The Apple Orchard is, in truth, the vineyard of our country; and the delicious beverage that can be obtained from some of the varieties of this excellent fruit being calculated to cheer the invalid, as well as to strengthen the healthy, entitles it to high consideration. It is one of our oldest and best fruits, and has become completely naturalized to our soil; none can be brought to so high a degree of perfection with so little trouble; and of no other are there so many excellent varieties in general cultivation, calculated for almost every soil, situation, and climate, which our country affords. source

One could go on an on about the virtues of the apple; as a food, medicine, preservative, mouth cleanser, etc...Without question, the apple is king of fruits. This from The Housekeeper's Apple Book published in 1917.

The apple and its relative value have been described in the following manner by Professor McAlpine of Tasmania: "Suppose an apple to be the size of a large breakfast cup and into this cup you put nearly half a pint of water and stir into it a half teaspoonful of concentrated food like that contained in an egg; of fatty stuff like butter, a little less than half a teaspoonful; of both cane and grape sugar, two tablespoonfuls; of mineral matter, as much as will lie on a sixpence; of acids, a little more than a teaspoonful; of skin and core a little more than two thirds of a teaspoonful." By this analysis you will see that the apple is not a luxury but a product of great food value. The mineral salts in the apple, such as iron, lime, magnesia, and phosphorus, are easily assimilated and aid greatly in maintaining a healthy equilibrium in the physical life of man. Doctor Hobart of Tasmania says: "The sailor who lives for a long time on salt pork and biscuit alone will rot with scurvy, and if he takes the sugars, acids, etc., contained in an apple every day separately, he will still die, but if he takes an apple a day his blood will keep perfectly right. This shows there is life in the apple aside from its chemical composition.

"A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned"

There's a bounty of apple recipes to be harvested from the web especially at this time of year. Apple-picking is a beloved fall tradition and the apple's rich culinary heritage reminds us of the days when it was considered appropriate to bring an apple to the teacher. In the Housekeeper's Apple Book, the author, Lucy Gertrude Mackay asserts the need to incorporate apples into our daily meals. She states, "It is claimed by many that if apples were substituted for potatoes occasionally in bills of fare, better health would result. If one meal a day could be made of the apple and some one of the dairy products, better health conditions would soon be manifest among our people." So, you can imagine my delight when I found this post titled Chicken Apple Curry - Potatoes for me, please..

But what of preservation? Apples are convenient year-round fruits. But to preserve the goodness of the American bounty, and perhaps save a little money, let's not fritter away the fruits of our labor. Besides the usual manner of "putting up" jellies, butters and ciders, apples can be frozen or dried. How much fun would it be to return from apple picking day and begin stringing apples for drying. Did you know, dried apple rings were popular in the 16th century as a way of storing fruit over the winter. Here is a colonial recipe for dried apples which still can be used today. Hey, they were good enough for Paul Revere! Check out how A New Old-Fashioned Gal dries her apples. You see, you can dry apples without a dehydrator. Are you a crafter? Dried apples are sometimes even used in crafts. Dried apples are also a healthy snack filled with dietary fiber, vitamin C, some A and several B complex vitamins, potassium and iron. Thin slices of air dried apples induce a subtle flavor which works quite nicely in such dishes as compotes and stuffing. Dried apple rings are great for granola mixes as well as cookies and even as a quick snack dipped in your favorite honey. Apples dried at this time of year can be stored and refreshed for use in pies, applesauce and cakes. A remembrance of a autumn afternoon. (Note: 1 cup dried apples yields about 1 1/4 c. cooked apples.) They can be re-hydrated for use in most recipes only limited by the imagination. I sometimes use apple cider vinegar or cider to re-hydrate them before adding to a dish. Below, I have included recipes for dried apple butter and dried apple fruit cake which I found in the The Housekkeeper's Apple Book. I also found a recipe for Dried Apple Roly-Poly another old fashioned recipe over at the Apple Journal.

Dried Apple Butter:
Wash one pound of dried or evaporated apples thoroughly, soak overnight; in the morning cook with plenty of water. When well done, rub through a sieve or colander ; add sugar and cinnamon to taste, the juice of one lemon, juice of two oranges, and butter the size of an egg. Cook slowly until it will drop heavily from a spoon.
Dried Apple Fruit Cake:
Boil two cups of dried apples in two cups of molasses. Cream one cup of butter with two cups of brown sugar, add four beaten eggs, and two cups of sour milk; sift together five cups of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and one-half teaspoon of cloves. Stir into the dry ingredients ; add two pounds of raisins and one pound of currants, well floured, and one pound of English walnut meats broken into small pieces. Bake for three hours in a moderate oven.
Dried Apple Roly-Poly
Sift a pint of flour, two tablespoons of baking powder, and one-half teaspoon of salt. Rub in one tablespoon of shortening. Add two-thirds cup of water, knead quickly and roll out into a very thin sheet. Brush with melted better. Chop dried apples fine. The apples should have been soaked overnight. Sprinkle over the dough the apples and four tablespoons of sugar. Roll up and place in a buttered baking pan, brush with water, and bake in a moderately hot oven for three-quarters of an hour. After the roll has been baking for half an hour, baste with a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in two tablespoons of water; return to the oven to glaze. Serve hot with cream and sugar.

Apples most often bring to mind sweet desserts, such as pies and cakes, but by grating, cubing or by the addition of applesauce, any variety of dishes can be enhanced with the addition of apples. Dried fruit can also be soaked and used in puddings and sauces. With its instant flavor, nutrition and ease of digesting, applesauce is also an important component of the Brat Diet.

Cider Apple Sauce:
Reduce four quarts of new cider to two by boiling; add enough pared, cored, and quartered apples to fill the kettle. Let cook slowly for four hours. This is very nice when served with roast pork. Hmmm...pork chops & apple sauce:)

Dried Apple Sauce:
Wash apples thoroughly and soak for fifteen minutes in warm water; drain, cover with water, and let boil slowly for four hours ; mash, add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Add the sugar just before removing from the stove or the apples will be toughened and darkened.

Frozen Apple Sauce:
Pare, core, and cut ten apples into quarters. Cook with a few grains of salt, half a cup of sugar, and two cups of water. Rub through a sieve, add two thirds of a cup of cider and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Freeze to a mush and serve in cups made of bright red apples.

I discovered the following recipe in a cooking magazine titled The Cooking Club published in 1902. Now, it may appear that this vintage recipe, quite frankly, may be considered "out of style" and difficult to digest. Nay! like chicken and waffles it may seem a somewhat confusing concept. Not necessarily as discovered by Mr. Breakfast or as Michelle likes to call it, "How to Eat Apple Pie for Breakfast Without Feeling Guilty" in her recipe for Sweet Apple Omelet. Here's another from The National Cook Book by Marion Harland and her daughter Christine Terhune Herrick.

Apple Omelet:
Into a cupful of strained apple sauce stir, while it is hot, a tablespoonful of butter, half a cupful of powdered sugar, and half a teaspoonful of mace or nutmeg. Let it get cold and add the beaten yolks of five eggs. Beat hard and high for two minutes, and put in the stiffened whites very gently with a good pinch of soda dissolved in a teaspoonful of cream. Turn the mixture into a buttered and heated bake-dish and bake in a steady oven until puffy and delicately browned. Send at once to the table.

If you're not quite ready for an apple omelet or Rosa's  Apple & Cheddar Quiche, perhaps, I can tempt you with the Belgium Pancake recipe below found in Mrs. Wilson's Cookbook (1920.)

1902 Apple Omelet:
Peel, core and quarter six apples. Stew them until tender and add two tablespoonfuls of butter, two tablespoonfuls of sugar and three eggs well beaten. Beat the whole well and fry as an omelet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when done and serve immediately.

Belgium Pancakes
Two cupfuls of unsweetened thin applesauce,
One well−beaten egg,
Three tablespoonfuls syrup,
Two and one−half cupfuls flour,
Three teaspoonfuls baking powder,
One tablespoonful shortening,
One−half teaspoonful cinnamon.
Beat to mix and then bake in the usual manner. Serve with butter and syrup.

"When the early explorers returned from their travels and introduced new fruits and vegetables into Europe, the Europeans often didn't know what to call them. To them, the name "apple" symbolized all fruits and was at one time bestowed upon melons, avocados, cashews, cherimoyas, dates, eggplants, lemons, oranges, peaches, pineapples, pine nuts, pomegranates, potatoes, quinces, and tomatoes. Poet Robert Frost found this rather amusing and penned this poem: source"

And was always a rose.
But the theory now goes
That the apple's a rose,
And the pear is, and so's
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only know
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose--
But were always a rose.
Robert Frost
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.) source
American mechanical apple peelers date to the late 18th century. It has become lore, in fact, that a 13-year-old Eli Whitney, later inventor of the cotton gin, began his career by designing an apple peeler in 1778. But the first U.S. patent for an apple peeler was filed by Moses Coates, of Downing's Field, Pa., in 1803. All of this is according to a scholarly article, "Apple Parers: A Slice of American History" by Don Thornton. source
1737 - Robert Prince in 1737 established the first commercial apple tree nursery in America called William Prince Nursery in Flushing, New York. The nursery survived under four generations of the Prince family until just after the Civil War. Prince's Nursery gathered trees and plants from around the world for resale, and became renowned through the American colony for its exotic wares. source below

Update: As soon as my daughter, Michele, heard about this National Apple Month post, she emailed me her recipe for Apple Butter which she suggests is good for freezing. You may remember Michele's Banana Pudding Pie.  Here goes...

Old-Fashioned Apple Butter
Ingredients:
4 lbs. Apples (12 c., pared and sliced)        ½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cloves                    2 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Allspice                    2 c. Apple cider 
Juice and grated peel of 1 lemon        ½ c. Sugar per cup of pulp

Place apples in a large kettle with apple cider. Bring to boil and simmer over low heat about 15 to 20 minutes until apples are tender. Put through sieve and measure pulp. Add 1/2 cup sugar per cup pulp and remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat 1 to 2 hours or until butter is thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Ladle into pint jars.  Cover and place in freezer.  This is an easy alternative to canning.


Resources
1. History and Legends of Apples
2. Recommended Uses for Selected Apple Varieties
3. Chef John Zehnder’s Heirloom Applesauce Cake
4. Chicken and Apple Curry 
5. Ritz Mock Apple Pie over @ cakespy
6. Apple Pie & Cheese
7. What is a Custard Apple?
8. Applesauce Custard Pie (also has recipe for making applesauce)
9. Fried Apples 'n' Onions
10. gâteau express aux pommes (applicious) Is that my buréka?
11. Mom's Apple Cake @ Smitten Kitchen
12. The Surreal Life & a Boiled Cider Pie (@ Coco Cooks)
13. Freezer Recipe- Apple Cinnamon Crumb (Rochelle's Vintage Recipes)
14. Apple Custard Pie with Cinnamon Streusel
15. Great Apple Activity Ideas

8 comments:

  1. An informative blog you have here. Thanks for the link :)

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  2. If I can find some nice apples, I'm going to give Michele's Apple Butter recipe a try. I haven't ever tried freezing--sounds like a good option.

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  3. When I had my day care center we tried making dried apples. We cut them and strung them on string and hung it up high along the classroom walls. They turned out good. You really packed a lot of good info in this post. The Olde Time Cooking site seems very interesting. I will have to check it out again when I have more time.

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  4. wow, louise, you sure put a lot of work into your post! thanks for the link. looks like there are some very interesting and tasty things :)) apples are one of my favourite things.

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  5. Hi tigerfish,
    Thanks so much for visiting. Yours is a keeper as well. I'm adding you to the blogroll and going back for some of that corned beef. Yum!

    Hi Kathy,
    When you make the apple butter, Michele suggests you try it as a coating for pork roast. Really yummy!

    Hi Rochelle,
    Yes, I do have a way of "packing" the info. I'm working on cutting down:) The Olde Time Cooking site was really fun to visit. I'm glad to know the strung apples dried nicely. Have you ever tried pumpkin slices?

    Hi burekaboy,
    Thanks for visiting and for the kind words. I'll be by your site in just a while. Can't wait to see what cooking today! More apples, perhaps:)

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  6. Speaking of drying pumpkin in the previous post, I want to dry some apples. Love it. Thanks for the recipes. I can never tire of apples.

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  7. I'm going apple picking today, and this post really got me in the mood. Thanks for the inspiration, Louise!

    Corinna
    http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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  8. Thank you so much for visiting Corinna. Have FUN apple picking. I hope you will be sharing some wonderful delectables!!!

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise