How do you like them apples?

How do we like “them apples?” A lot. We like “them” apples a lot.

We also love this time of year: local orchards have begun harvesting their apples, local markets are selling those apples, and the weather is finally cool enough to inspire us to cook, can, and bake house-warming apple recipes.

To keep you entertained while you make our Recipe of the Week (Apple Bread),  read are some fun facts and tasty trivia about apples:

A rose is a rose is … an apple? It turns out, apples are botanically part of the rose family. Plums and pears are, too.

Ancient Chinese Secret. The first apple tree originated millions of years ago in Central Asia. Today, 7,500 varieties of apples are grown around the world.

Luxury fruit. Apples were popular in ancient Greece and Rome and were a sign of opulence.

Forever young. In Norse mythology, the goddess of youth, Idun was believed to grow magic apples that kept the gods youthful.

As American As Apple Pie. It’s a common saying, but, as it turns out, not an apt one. Apple pie isn’t American in origin – it’s European. The first recipe for apple pie dates all the way back to England in the 1300’s. The first American orchard was planted around 1625 by William Blackstone on Boston’s Beacon Hill.

The apples aren’t all that American, either. The apples that are popular in North America aren’t native to our continent, either. Only the crabapple, a smaller, slightly tart, kindred cousin of apples, is native to America.

Apples = our favorite fruit? Almost. The United States grows an estimated 2,500 varieties of apples*, 100 of them grown here commercially. But surprisingly, apples aren’t actually the most popular fruit in the country. Bananas, it turns out, are the favorite, most frequently-purchased fruits here.  Curiously, only one variety of banana, the Cavendish, is imported for sale in the US.  (Apples, in many different varieties, come in a close second-favorite).

More apple trivia for extra credit (or to dazzle your friends with supreme apple knowledge):

What’s in a bushel? A bushel of apples weighs approximately 42 pounds. That amount will make around 3-1/2 gallons of cider, 21 apple pies, or around 20 quarts of applesauce.

The average person eats 65 apples per year. Some of that may be in the form of cider, applesauce, or other apple-based product. (All of our apple-related stories and recipes are indexed at this link).

If you’re making one homemade apple pie, it will take about two pounds, or 1/21 of a bushel, of apples.

Apples will ripen up to 10 times faster when you leave them out on the kitchen counter, than when you refrigerate them.

The first American to orbit the Earth, astronaut John Glenn, carried pureed applesauce in squeezable tubes on his initial space flight. Ham with applesauce was served to Gemini astronauts.

The apple genome was decoded in 2010.

Pomology is the official name for the science of apple-growing.

The fear of apples is known as Malusdomesticaphobia. (Malus Domestica is the botanical name for the domesticated apple tree.)

tiny heirloom apple

*If you’re interested in growing your own apples, Seed Savers in Decorah is an excellent source of apple tree grafts and root stock for all kinds of heirloom and little-known apple varieties (a few of which are pictured with this story).  They also have expertise and advice on how to plant, grow and care for your apple trees.

Click here to find out more about cooking and baking with apples.