Hello my dear readers,
Another week is here and that means
This week let’s discover a very well known fruit around the world, let’s discover the apples.
Present even in the first pages of the Bible, the apple tree (Malus domestica Borkh., 1803) is certainly one of the most widespread fruit trees in the world.
In all its varieties, apples are the symbol of proper nutrition in many culinary cultures but is not only this.
From Adam and Eve onwards, apples are also a symbol of temptation, just think of the poor Snow White, conquered by the wicked witch right through an apple; a symbol of trials to overcome, the legendary William Tell centered an apple placed on the head of the son with an arrow; a symbol of revenge, the “apple of discord” that triggered the Trojan war in Homer’s Iliad; a symbol of science, Isaac Newton and the discovery of gravity; a symbol of technology, Apple, I think no need to say more, and even a symbol of an entire city, New York.
Therefore, it is evident, that the fame of the apples goes hand in hand with their goodness, and with the recommendations of the dietitians who advise their consumption for its excellent nutritional properties.
The origin of the apple tree and its fruit, actually come from the Middle East. The “father of all apples” is the Malus sieversii, the species that grows wild in the Tian Shan mountains, in Kazakhstan. The Tian Shan chain, which means “the mountains of the sky”, the “celestial mountains”, surrounds Alma Ata, which was the capital until 1997. The plant then spread thanks to geophysical and atmospheric factors: tectonics with sods and bears. About 60 million years ago, under the pressure of the Indo-Australian plate against the Asian one, the mountains of the Himalayas were raised. The Tian Shan chain, one of the northeast offshoots, separating Central Asia from China, trapped some ancestral apple tree in an isolated and inaccessible territory.
While they scoured the Tian Shan valleys to collect grafts and seeds from the most interesting plants, the researchers realized they were competing with bears, fond of these tasty wild apples. Here is what can have happened: the first selection, the one that made the cherry-apple leap in quality and gave rise to the Malus sieversii as the man knew it, was made by Tian Shan bears, choosing the sweetest and edible fruits and disseminating them. Over the millennia, plants with larger and fleshy fruits have had a competitive advantage spreading over the territory.
It was probably the great Indo-European migrations that spread the apple tree from Central Asia to the then known world.
In historical times, the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara flourished in this area and later became part of the Persian empire, which extended from China to the Mediterranean. On the roads built by the Persians, the greatest communication route of antiquity developed, the “Silk Road”. Eight thousand kilometers of roads that connected China with the West, bringing silk to Rome and all the provinces of the empire. On that path for centuries, goods have traveled in both directions, but also new ideas, religions, and seeds and grafts of apple varieties.
The apple tree has been cultivated, for thousands of years, throughout Asia and Europe, appearing in the history of many ancient civilizations, including Romans, Greeks and Nordic tribes. Apples have subsequently made their way to the United States where, today, they are widely cultivated, thanks to the help of European colonizers.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it seems like a good idea to cultivate the apple tree correctly and eat its fruit, taking good care of the tree.
The apple tree is a fruit tree that fits well where the temperatures are low, even very low. In winter it tolerates well even the coldest climates, up to -20°C. This is because, being a winter plant, it really needs cold hours during the day to allow the buds to bloom in spring after the dormant period.
The apple tree does not require special soils, as long as they are rich in organic and non-calcareous substances. To ascertain this last element, it is important to perform the analysis of the pH of the soil: if the soil is acid, the calcium is scarce and is not a good soil for the apple tree. The fertilizer, where necessary, must include phosphorus, nitrogen, microelements and potassium.
The apple tree is a plant that needs water, especially in the hottest periods.
As with all fruit trees, there are two important pruning to be carried out on the apple tree: one known as breeding, to give shape to the crown of the tree, and one to produce, to define which are the productive branches and remove those that prevent the correct growth of the fruits.
At the moment there are more than 7000 types of apples known all over the world, different in color, consistency, powderiness and properties.
A few types: Red Delicious, crunchy and mildly sweet; Gala, crisp and very sweet; Fuji, crunchy and super sweet; Granny Smith, crunchy and tart, Honeycrisp, crisp and distinctly sweet; Cripps Pink, crunchy and sweet-tart; Golden Delicious, crisp and sweet.
Apples are fruits that can be eaten both raw and cooked.
A way to taste apples is to prepare a classic and delicious apple pie! Apple pie is a simple, healthy, good and classic dessert.
Apples can also be used to make jams, cakes, biscuits, fruit juices, ice creams, yogurts and much more; not only that, the tea with apple and cinnamon is an excellent remedy against the ailments of the change of season.
There are many desserts that you can prepare with apples: from the classic strudel, to the muffin for breakfast, cake without butter, with yogurt, and the puff pastry roses to be enriched with apples and a pinch of cinnamon.
The apple can have different uses in the kitchen. Thanks to its crunchiness, it is excellent to add it in salads, in your first and second dishes or as a snack that breaks hunger.
The apple is rich in properties and low in calories.
The apple varieties are mainly three: red apples, green apples and yellow apples.
Red apples have a myriad of benefits to the whole body. Vitamin B1 counteracts appetite, nervousness and fatigue, while B2 has a positive effect on hair and nails, reinforcing them. They are also recommended for diabetics, thanks to their low fat content and useful slimming regimens. If consumed raw it has astringent properties, but cooked vice versa is an excellent remedy for constipation.
Red apples also help slow the aging of the skin and, unlike many other fruits, do not cause any intestinal fermentation.
The peel of the apple also contains carotenoids, which are important for protecting the eyes, and which even improve the ability to see in dark environments. Red apples contain many fibers, which are essential in a balanced diet, to prevent heart disease and stroke. Red apples have about 50 kcal per 100 grams of fruit.
Rich in beneficial properties, green apples are composed mainly of water, 88%, and are an excellent food for our diet. Rich in fiber, including pectin, which covers the intestinal mucosa, help the correct functioning of the intestine, fight bacterial infections and have a purifying action against waste. Also important is the antioxidant action carried out by the presence of polyphenols and flavonoids that play an antitumor action and that counteract free radicals. They also reduce cholesterol and blood sugar, help prevent various diseases of the cardiovascular system, including strokes, heart attacks and atherosclerosis, and help keep diabetes under control. The vitamins of groups A, B, C, E help to keep the skin hydrated and elastic and some particular enzymes can also favor digestion. Do not contain saturated fats and cholesterol and are excellent for low-calorie diets. Green apples have about 38 kcal per 100 grams of fruit.
Yellow apples contain a large amount of vitamins and mineral substances. Have very little protein and very few lipids. Contain vitamin B1 which counteracts appetite, fatigue and irritability. Vitamin B2, on the other hand, helps digestion and acts as a protector for the mucous membranes of the mouth and intestines. Finally, vitamin C increases the assimilation of iron and gives the apple antioxidant properties. Yellow apples are very rich in potassium and pectin, a soluble dietary fiber and natural thickener that makes them perfect for the preparation of jams and fruit jellies.
Apples have no particular contraindications. Can cause bloating, gas production, stomach cramps, diarrhea or constipation if you exaggerate with their consumption or if you are intolerant to certain active ingredients.
Do you like apples?
Thank you all for reading.
Join me next time and let’s discover Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy, as its apples are known throughout Europe as a quality local product.
And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may enjoy my previous posts
Bye bye for now 🙂