Apples boast skin in an array of shades, from classic red and yellow, to pale green, to streaked and striped varieties. For this autumn fruit, beauty is more than skin deep. A medium apple (tennis ball size) offers 80 calories, no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and is packed with good-for-you fiber—5 grams per fruit. High fiber content means the natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, which helps with maintaining steady blood sugar levels.
Grow ‘Triple Play’ apple trees in zones 4 to 7. You won’t need a pollinator, since it offers three varieties on one tree: ‘State Fair’, ‘Wealthy’, and 'Zestar!®'. Topping out at 12 to 15 feet tall, these trees spread 10 to 14 feet.
The real story behind the apples Johnny Appleseed planted is that they weren’t eating apples, but fruits destined to become hard cider, the beverage of choice on the frontier when the purity of water supplies was untrustworthy. Transplanted New Englanders who homesteaded the frontier consumed an average 10.52 ounces of hard cider daily. Today, hard cider is experiencing a comeback through private label ciders.
Modern apple orchards often resemble more of an espalier planting, with trees arranged along wires and fruit bearing branches formed horizontally along a narrow path. These types of plantings are known as spindle orchards and feature high density tree plantings with 1,000 trees per acre. The arrangement results in easier harvest and tree maintenance coupled with high yields.
Despite their association with all things American, apples actually hail from what is modern Kazakhstan. The only apples native to America are crab apples, like Hewe’s Crab Apple. Recorded as early as 1717, this little apple was also known as Virginia crab and was mainly grown for making cider. It was one of Thomas Jefferson’s major cider varieties, with trees filling a large portion of the north orchards at Monticello.
Apples are presidential fruits, having been raised by many former occupants of the White House. ‘Albermarle Pippin’ was a highly favored variety in the orchards of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. This apple traces its history to 1700 and was the most prized American dessert apple of the early 18th Century.
Try your hand at drying apples, either in the oven or using a dehydrator. Drying is a great way to preserve apples long-term. When apples are fully, properly dry, they’ll last up to six months in a cool, dark place. Or you can also freeze them for longer storage. Dried apples make a tasty snack and are a great addition to homemade granola or trail mix. Grab chopped dried apples for an oatmeal topper or a delicious addition to oatmeal cookies.
A yummy blend of oatmeal, chopped caramels, walnuts and chopped apples make this cookie a winner. The richest version features true caramel candies, but you can substitute caramel-flavored chips in a pinch. They don’t deliver the same gooey sweetness as the candy, but the flavor comes close. Because of the apple, these cookies are moist. Store in layers separated by parchment sheets. Refrigerate if you plan on storing them beyond a few days—if they last that long. For a variation, try different nuts, including black walnut, hickory or pecans.
Make an old-fashioned cuppa by steeping apple peels in boiling water. For one cup of tea, add a cinnamon stick, a few cloves and, if you want a little zing, the zest of one lemon to 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or your favorite sweetener. This is a delicious cup of tea that’s rich in nutrients, thanks to the peel’s Vitamins A, K and C (peels contain half an apple’s Vitamin C content), folate and quercetin (helpful in lung and brain function). Vary the spices to shift the flavor to hit other notes, like exotic five-spice, allspice or pumpkin pie spice.