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Apple
 
Apple is a fleshy fruit of the tree of the species Malus domestica in the rose family Rosaceae. The trees of the Malus family require a long period of dormancy, a well drained soil, years of careful pruning and pest management. The apple tree usually grows to about 5-12 m in height, and is one of the most cultivated fruit trees in the world. Apples ripen in autumn, and generally are 5-9 cm in diameter. They are available in a number of sizes, shapes, colours, etc. but are mostly round and come in the shades of red or yellow.

The tree is believed to have originated from Asia, and now more than 7,500 varieties of apples are available worldwide. These large number of varieties may be grouped in three categories, cider, cooking, and dessert varieties. Those varieties, which ripen in late summer are often the ones, which cannot be stored for long, whereas the ones that ripen in autumn may be stored all year round.

Apples can be eaten fresh, cooked, baked or be converted into drinks, and are a rich source of vitamins A and C, fiber, carbohydrates, etc. To know if an apple is good or not, one should first look at its texture, which should be smooth, and be free of any bruises or cuts. The firmness of the apple is the proof of its sweetness. Storage of the apples in an important aspect and care should be taken to store them in a cool and dry place, wrapped in a poly bag.

Millions of tonnes of apples are grown throughout the world every year. China, USA, Turkey, France, Italy and Iran are amongst the top exporters of apples in the world. Apples are used in many recipes made world over. The American Apple Pie is world famous and is a traditional dish made on special occasions. Apple can also be baked and eaten as a side dish with any kind of meat. Apple sauce made from blanched apples is an excellent accompaniment with pork. Dried apples also make a health snack.
 

Some Varieties of Apples
Some varieties of apples, which can be eaten raw, as well as can be used for cooking may include the following:

  • Baldwin: It is an apple with red skin, which is streaked with yellow. This variety is crisp and has a sweet tart flavour
  • Fuji: This apple is green to yellow in colour and has an under colour of blushed red. It is fragrant sweet, crisp and juicy
  • Braeburn: It has a mottled red and yellow skin, is crisp and has a sweet-tart flesh
  • Cortland: It has a smooth and shiny red skin and is juicy, crisp, and has a sweet-tart flesh that resists browning
  • Gala: It has a red mottled colour with traces of yellow.This apple variety is sweet, slightly spicy, crisp and juicy
  • Criterion: This variety has a bright red skin with green highlights and has a slightly tart like juicy flesh
  • Delicious: It has a yellow to yellow-green skin. It is sweet and crisp with a juicy flesh that resists browning
  • Granny Smith: This variety has a freckled green skin and has a sweet tart, moderately juicy flesh
  • Jonagold: This variety is a cross between the golden delicious variety and the Jonathan, variety. It has a mottled red and yellow skin and is moderately crispy, very juicy having a sweet-tart flesh
  • Lady Apple: This variety has a skin color ranging from brilliant red to yellow with a red blushing, and a sweet-tart flesh
  • McIntosh: It has a bright red skin sometimes tinged with green, and a medium-crisp, tart-sweet
  • Pink Lady: This variety has a pinkish-red skin and is crisp, has a sweet tart flesh with hints of kiwi and raspberry
  • Rhode Island Greening: It has a green to yellow-green skin and a sweet-tart flesh that seems to intensify in flavor when cooked
  • Rome Beauty: It has a deep red skin with some yellow speckles and a firm and mildly sweet flesh.
 
Origin
Researchers believe that the apple tree was one of the earliest cultivated trees. The apple fruit has improved over a period of thousand years of its existence owing to the process of selection. Some botanists theorize that apples originate somewhere in central and southern China. The seeds of this mystic fruit are believed to have been spread by birds throughout the northern hemisphere. In 300 BC, Alexander the Great is believed to have found dwarfed apples in Asia Minor, which he brought back to Greece.

The colonists brought the apples to North America in the 1600's, and the first apple orchard was built in Boston in North America in 1625. Apples have been relished as a winter fruit in Asia and Europe since time immemorial. The Europeans took the apples to the USA in the 1900's, as the irrigation projects in Washington state started at that time and the multi-billion fruit industry spread its roots.
 

Some Delicious Apple Facts

  • It takes an Apple Tree 4 to 5 years to produce fruit
  • America's President George Washington was fond of pruning his apple trees
  • Around 25% of an apple is air
  • The largest apple that was picked weighed 3 pounds
  • An average apple tree can fill 20 boxes, weighing 42lbs, when harvested
  • The energy of 50 leaves is required to produce one apple
  • Apples ripen faster at room temperature, than when stored in a refrigerator.
 

Myths and Apples

From the very outset, apples have been associated with health, beauty, fertility, temptation and sexuality. Many mythical tales have been long associated with this mystical fruit. In the Bible, the apple is depicted as the forbidden fruit, which Adam and Eve ate, and brought wrath on the entire race of humans. In Greek Mythology, Heracles, a Greek hero, was required to travel to the garden of Hesperides and pick golden apples from the tree of life located at the centre.

In another myth from the Greek mythology, Atlanta, raced all her suitors, and outran them all in order to avoid marriage. But she could not defeat Hippomenes, who defeated her by his cunning plan. He used the three golden apples given to him by Aphrodite, the Godess of love. He used these apples to distract her, and as a result successfully won her hand in marriage. There are many such myths associated with this supple fruit, which have been going around for centuries.

 

Apples and Their Health Benefits
Apple is an extremely dexterous fruit, as it is not only delicious but is also healthy. In the day and age we live in today, fitness and health seem to be on every ones mind. Apples are sweet, do not have many calories, and also aid in weight management; making them an ideal fruit. They also possesses many health benefits, which may be enumerated as follows:

  • Apples are a rich source of dietary fiber, which helps in slow release of sugars in the body. This helps in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. The fiber content also facilitates a smooth bowel movement making the digestive system of the body strong
  • They are a rich source of a mineral called boron, which helps promote bone growth
  • The large amounts of phytochemicals present in apples, makes them a good source of antioxidants in the body
  • Research has shown that eating apples can reduce the risk of developing a number of cancers. Quercetin, a flavour found in the apples can prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells. The skin of the apples have phytonutrients, which can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells by 43%
  • Consuming apples regularly also ensures a smooth functioning of the lungs, and reduces the risk of respiratory diseases
  • Studies also suggest that apples aid in the lowering of blood cholesterol level, with the help of Pectin present in them
  • Making apples a part of your daily diet, also helps in tackling aging problems, preventing wrinkles, and promoting hair growth.
 
 


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