By Laura Langston
APPLES AREN’T THE oldest fruit in existence
(that honor goes to olives, dates or ;gs, depending
on which source you believe), but they have been
around for more than 4,000 years. In fact, some
sources suggest the apple tree was the earliest tree-cultivated fruit.
Technically a member of the rose family, the
apple appears in many myths, legends and religious
traditions. The most famous is the story of the
Garden of Eden, where the serpent coaxed Eve to eat
an apple from the forbidden tree, forever linking the
fruit with knowledge, immortality, temptation and
the fall of man.
Despite that reputation, apples were a favorite
fruit of the Greeks and Romans. ;ey were o;en
eaten at the end of the meal for their digestive qualities, particularly with rich food such as pork or
goose. Cooked apples were prescribed by ancient
doctors to treat lung and bowel disorders, and they
were also mixed with rosewater to produce an ointment for smoothing skin.
By the 19th century, Welsh citizens were saying,
“Eating an apple before bed makes the doctor beg his
bread.” We know that saying today as “An apple a day
keeps the doctor away.”
Current research confirms that apples are a
High in vitamins and ;ber but low in calories,
apples may lower the risk of certain cancers, as well
as help with weight loss, heart disease and choles-
terol control. Two-thirds of the fruit’s ;ber and many
antioxidants are found in the apple peel. Almost half
the vitamin C content is directly under the skin.
;e crabapple (Pyrus malus) is the wild ancestor of all cultivated apple species. More than 7,500
apple varieties are grown worldwide, with roughly
100 varieties grown commercially in the U.S.
Factoring in the numerous heirloom and lesser-known varieties grown in backyards, the number of
varieties grown here is probably close to 2,000.
Apples can be sweet or tart, so; and smooth or
crisp and crunchy, depending on the variety you
choose. Most apples sold commercially are dual
purpose, excellent fresh or cooked. But di;erent
apple varieties respond to the cooking process differently—some cook to mush, while others hold
;e so;er McIntosh apple, for instance, is great
for snacking or cooking into applesauce but isn’t a
great pie apple. ;e Winesap and the Granny Smith,
both on the tart side, make great pies because they
hold their shape and the baking process tends to
bring out their sweetness, resulting in a ;nished
product with a nice balance of sweetness and snap.
Sweet or tart, so; or crisp, this historic fruit is
versatile enough to please the pickiest of palates.
Regardless if apples are used in the ;nale to a savory
dinner or as an ingredient in the entrée, guests will
surely be reaching for seconds. C
Laura Langston has two old apple trees in her
Paci;c Northwest garden. She doesn’t know the
varieties, but one produces great pie apples and
the other produces great sauce apples.
Recipe provided by the U.S. Apple
Association and reprinted from
Apple Cookbook (Storey Books,
2001; not available at Costco)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a
large baking sheet.
Peel, core and cut the apples into
¼-inch slices. In a medium-size
bowl, combine the apples with
the raisins, honey and allspice.
Roll out the pastry to a circle
approximately 10 inches in
diameter. Spoon the apple mixture over half the dough, leaving
a 1-inch border. Fold the other
half over the apples, moisten the
edges with milk and seal. Crimp
the edges with the tines or the
handle of a fork. Place on the
baking sheet, brush with more
milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Makes 2 servings.
Note: You can also use puff or
phyllo pastry instead of pie crust.
If you like, you can add ½ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg
and ginger; replace the allspice
with 1 teaspoon cinnamon; or
add grated orange or lemon zest.
3 medium tart or sweet baking
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Look for a variety of fresh apples
in your local warehouse.
A historic fresh