Apples are pretty much the most popular fruit in the world. People eat them plain, bake them into pies and even make alcohol with them. And it should really be no surprise. With literally thousands of varieties there is something for every taste out there. Of course, the apple also figures heavily into mythology, folklore and is well known for its health benefits. As the old saying goes, “an apple before bed, keeps the doctor from earning his bread.”
All men have an Adam ’s Apple and science will tell you that its point is to protect your vocal chords and that it also has a role in the deepening of the male voice. However, back in the day people didn’t see any point to it at all and thus came up with a much more insane theory as to where it came from. The legend says that when Eve and Adam were tempted in the Garden of Eden the delicious, forbidden fruit they ate was an apple. Of course, these theories don’t take into account that apple was often a term used for many kinds of fruit and that the bible never explicitly states which kind of fruit it was. Regardless, this theory says that Adam got a bit of apple stuck in his throat when he ate it and now all men have a similar lump due to Adam’s disobedience to God. This theory is pretty silly, but also shows just how important apples are in mythology.
Falling Apple Legend
We are all aware of the somewhat fanciful story of Isaac Newton discovering gravity because an apple fell on his head and we all know that it’s just an old legend. At least, for the longest time most people believed that it was just a silly story. However, recent documents were revealed that show comments by Newton himself telling people about his own version of the apple story. According to him, he had been out in the orchard and when he saw an apple fall it got him thinking about the way in which they always fell. His thinking, as we know, led to his discovery of gravity and a bunch of other math stuff that has made our world a much more advanced place. Of course, the tale might have been embellished somewhat over the years, but the most interesting thing is that the main person exaggerating the tale was none other than Sir Isaac Newton himself.
You’ve probably heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. However, while apples are good at a lot of health related things, perhaps a more accurate slogan would be “an apple a day helps keep brain damage away”. See, researchers at Cornell University wanted to test the effects of a chemical found in apples called quercetin and see how it compared to Vitamin C when it came to protecting the brain from oxidative stress. Of course, like so many of these studies it would be unethical to perform them on humans, so rats were tested instead. The researchers used hydrogen peroxide as an oxidative stressor and found that the rat’s brains were not only well protected by quercetin, but that it performed better than Vitamin C. It seems there really is something to the idea that eating an apple a day is a great idea. While more studies need to be done on the subject, they also believe that the chemical can help prevent cancer as well.
Apples are one of the most popular fruits in the world, so they often appear in folklore and are surrounded by a wide variety of legends. One of the most well known pop culture references for apples is when the evil queen uses one to poison Snow White. Unfortunately, this has led to some confusion and anxiety over the poisonous properties of apples. See, according to some of the stories, apple pips contain arsenic and others say it is cyanide. The truth is that the apple pips do contain a very small amount of cyanide, but even if it were processed by your body it would be such a small amount that you could handle it. However, it actually isn’t even usually processed by our bodies at all. The pips have a very hard outer shell and generally don’t break down before they make their way through the body – this is advantageous for spreading seeds. What this means is that even if you swallowed a ton of apple seeds you would still likely be completely unharmed. You would have to eat a huge amount and chew them up good to be dangerously poisoned.
According to the old legends, William Tell was a hero of independence in Switzerland whose famous shot brought about a rebellion that gave the country their freedom from Austria. The story says that an agent of the Duke of Hapsburg in Austria put a hat in the town square where Tell lived and everyone was supposed to bow to it. To show his defiance, brave William Tell refused to bow and the authorities decided to punish his rebellion in a creative, but cruel way. They would have him try to shoot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow. The stories say that Tell split the apple in two in the first try without hurting a hair on his son’s head. However, he had a second arrow meant for the duke’s main agent in case he missed and this led to his imprisonment after the fact. He escaped his imprisonment, nearly drowning his enemies in the process and escaped to freedom. Many people believe that the apple-shot was the beginning of the revolution. Unfortunately though, while the story is a truly fun tale, it is unlikely there is any veracity to it. Some historians have pointed out that the tale wasn’t actually recorded until a couple hundred years later and that the person who originally wrote the tale got many important details wrong and couldn’t even keep his dates straight to save his life. Also, historians are increasingly of the opinion that there never was a William Tell, at least not the one mention in the story.
Apple cider is a delicious beverage either hard or regular, but has actually fallen greatly out of popularity in the United States. While you can still buy cider in the United States and it remains a popular drink in the fall, the truth is it used to be much more popular. You see, back in the colonial days people were afraid of drinking the water due to disease and apples were something they had in abundance. Using apples to make cider could mean a much more sanitary drink and this meant it, along with other alcoholic beverages, were often consumed instead of water. Many orchards at the time were way more concerned with apples for the production of cider than actually eating them and the size and quality of your apple orchard could be indicator of wealth. In fact, there was a time when wages were paid partly in cider so those with the best orchards often got the best workers. Interestingly though, cider’s popularity in the USA has waned greatly over time. Some scholars believe that the temperance movement was a serious cause, but feel that it does not account for the fact that many other alcoholic drinks returned after prohibition was over. Whatever the reason, we think that people should go back to drinking cider more, because it is incredibly delicious. Of course, besides its delicious taste, apple cider is just as good for you as anything with apples.
Many people have heard of the story of Johnny Appleseed, the obviously not true legend about a man who wandered through numerous US states planting apple seeds because that’s just how he rolls. However, it turns out that Johnny Appleseed was indeed a real person and his given name was John Chapman. Chapman was pretty strange for his time, or any time for that matter. He was basically an environmentalist hippy before they were even a thing. He did indeed make his way through multiple states planting apple seeds along the way. He wanted to be at peace with everything and this extended not just to nature and animals, but also to the native people of America. Since hurting animals wasn’t something he could believe in, he refused to eat them and usually went about without even wearing shoes, which is pretty odd when you are wandering through the wilderness. Many accounts say that he wore a cloth sack instead of normal attire and kept a tin pot on his head, although the last part has never been proven. Appleseed was not only a legend after death, but also a figure larger than life in his own time.
If you leave an apple out long enough it starts to go brown and many people don’t like this because they think it has gone bad. The truth is that the apple simply goes through a sort of oxidation process when the inside is exposed to the air and the apple is still perfectly fine. However, if you really just can’t stand to look at it like that and you are going to leave cut apples lying out for no good reason, you can put lemon juice on them for protection from going brown. If you want to keep uncut apples longer, they spoil way slower if they are kept in the refrigerator by a matter of often weeks. If you are going to keep them in the fridge though, you need to be careful to separate them from other fruit because they can make them go bad much quicker.
The Origin Of Apples
The country of Kazakhstan has a lot to be proud of, but more recently a long held claim was finally validated beyond a shadow of a doubt. See, one of the cities in Kazakhstan is called Almaty, which quite literally means “father of apples”. This city has long held that their apple species, Malus Sieversii, was the primordial mitochondria of the apple world. For the longest time this was the source of great controversy, as some people believed the apple to have originated from much different parts of the world. However, scientists managed to recently sequence the genome for the apple and now know for certain that it originally came from Kazakhstan.
Apples Are Usually Unique
Apples are one of the most oddly behaved fruits that exist. As we mentioned there has long been question about their lineage and only recently the genome was sequenced. The reason the apple’s ancestry was so hard to trace is because of how apples grow. The way apple trees are pollinated means that the seeds could end up much different from the apple that they came from, to the point that it is a completely different variety. What this means for farmers is that if they want to make sure they are growing a specific kind, they need to do some Dr. Frankenstein type stuff to make things work. To grow specific types they get a rootstock and then graft a branch onto it from the type of apple they are trying to produce. The method may sound somewhat unnatural, but without it we would not be able to receive the uniform varieties of apples we are used to.