The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” traces to Old English, hinting at the fruit’s rich nutritional benefits. The original saying goes like this: “Ate an apfel avore gwain to bed, make the doctor beg his breads.” Apples—including juice and cider—supply boron, an important mineral for health. Apple cider is one of the earliest prescribed antidepressants.
Certain things may be touted to be as American as apple pie, but the fact is, apple pies have their roots in 14th Century England. It was the Pilgrims who combined pie making skills with apple seeds ferried over the Atlantic Ocean to create the quintessential American dessert. The earliest versions of this dish often featured only a bottom crust, because times were hard and ingredients scarce. That’s how the saying “upper crust” came to signify households with plenty of money—they were the only ones who could afford pies with an upper crust.
When Ohio was opening as a frontier in 1792, settlers could earn up to 100 acres if they homesteaded in the wilderness. A homestead required 50 apple and 20 peach trees. John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was an enterprising businessman who traveled ahead of settlers planting and tending apple orchards on land he had purchased. He later sold the orchards to homesteaders. The last apple planted by John is rumored to be a ‘Rambo,’ which continues to grow in Nova, Ohio.
Visit an orchard, and you might expect to reach up and pick a few choice apples, or scramble up a ladder to reach the higher fruits. Time honored traditional apple orchard plantings have showcased individual trees with rounded heads lined up in rows. This is the apple tree schoolchildren see in storybooks and the one most folks expect when heading out to the orchard.
You can find apples growing in every state in the continental United States. The top apple-yielding states? Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia. The most popular apple raised in the country is ‘Red Delicious,’ followed by No. 2 favorite ‘Golden Delicious.’ Despite similar names, these apples are not related.