Saturday, October 22, 2011

An apple a day.......

What thoughts enter your mind when you think of an apple? Apple pie? Snow White? William Tell shooting an apple off his son's head with a crossbow? With Halloween approaching, you may think of bobbing for apples. The tradition being whoever chokes on the apple first will be the first to marry. Apparently this is where the tradition of throwing rice at a wedding evolved from. (Note to friends, if I get married and you throw apples, or anything larger than a grain of rice at me I will not be happy).

Folklore has been associated with the apple throughout history. With its significance in the mythology of many cultures, the apple plays a symbolic role, along with its connotations of love, beauty and sin and temptation. In many religions, the apple appears as a mystical or forbidden fruit. According to Christian religion, the "forbidden fruit" is the apple because the Latin word for apple is "malum," which is also the word for evil. In Danish folklore, apples wither around adulterers. America's best known apple folklore lies in John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.

There is a superstition for boat builders that it is unlucky to build a boat out of wood from an apple tree because this wood was used to make coffins at one point in time. I am not superstitious but I can certainly understand that belief.

An apple is by definition: any tree and its fruit of the genus Palus of the family Rosaceae. The tree originated in Western Asia and there are over 7,000 varieties with a range of characteristics. Apples have been around since prehistoric times and were a favorite of the Romans. It is said the growing of apples in North America started during the time of the Pilgrims. The United States is currently one of the world's top suppliers of apples along with China, Turkey, Poland and Italy.

Being a durable fruit, the apple can grow in hot and cold climates, is firm, and is one of the more versatile foodstuffs that can be used in everything from a chutney, pie, sauce, side dish, raw, a compote, etc.

When buying apples look for strong colors, make sure there are no bruises and remember apples will not continue to ripen after being picked. Store apples in the refrigerator and remember the shelf life of an apple is shorter if not refrigerated.

When deciding which apple to use for cooking, it depends on your tastes, the intended use, and what qualities you want from an apple. Some of the more common varieties are the red delicious, golden delicious, granny smith, McIntosh, gala and lady apple. Certain apples lend themselves to certain preparations better.

For cooking, granny smith apples hold their shape well, where as some varieties of apple will break down once baked. Recipes generally specify which apple to use.

Apples not only have many culinary benefits but are also healthy. (I assume most of you know that). One apple has approximately 20% of your daily fiber needs, only 80 calories, and apples are fat, sodium and cholesterol free.

Maybe an apple a day does keep the doctor away.

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