An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away!

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Apples serve all sorts of useful purposes: They’re great for a snack, fun to pick, perfect for giving to a teacher, and ideal as a subject for a still life. They also offer an entire smorgasbord of interesting facts for those who enjoy nourishing their minds along with their bodies. Here are eight bite-sized tidbits to chew on regarding this wondrous fruit.

Modern Apples Are Descended From a Single Wild Ancestor

Wild apple (Malus sieversii) native of Central Asia.
Credit: Ron Ramtang/ Shutterstock

All varieties of the domestic apples we know and cherish stem from a single wild ancestor,  Malus sieversii. Though the apple was originally found in the foothills of the Tien Shan mountains of Central Asia, its seeds may have spread from its native region via birds and bears. Sometime after the fruit’s domestication more than 4,000 years ago, apples made their way to Europe and beyond by way of pre-Silk Road trading routes. In the early 20th century, Russian biologist Nikolai Vavilov traced the modern apple’s origins to the forests outside Almaty, Kazakhstan. Today, the town still celebrates its status as the birthplace of this botanic marvel.

The U.S. Ranks Second to China in Apple Production

Clean and fresh gala apples on a conveyor belt.
Credit: Paula Cobleigh/ Shutterstock

Apples consistently rank among America’s favorite fruits, which explains the impressive productivity of the U.S. apple industry. According to the US Apple Association, there are more than 26,000 apple growers over 382,000 acres across all 50 states, who combine to produce 11.1 billion pounds of apples per year. However, even that output pales in comparison to the prodigious amount of apples reaped in China, which produced more than 47 million metric tons of the fruit in 2022.

Galas Are the Top-Selling Apples in the United States

Close-up of apple slices.
Credit:PTP034/ Shutterstock

One of the great things about apples is the variety of tasting experiences offered by the numerous types available at your neighborhood store. Honeycrisps are crunchy and sweet. Granny Smiths deliver a burst of tartness. Cortlands are great for baking. So which is the favorite of the American public? By sales, at least, that honor goes to Galas, which made up 19% of the U.S. apple market in 2021.

It Takes at Least Four Years for a Tree to Produce Apples

Watering freshly planted fruit tree in a garden.
Credit: encierro/ Shutterstock

A standard (non-dwarf) apple tree will normally take at least four years to begin bearing fruit, and can continue to do so for another three decades. That covers nearly the entire life span of many trees, which generally live up to about 50 years of age, although some can survive for 100 years or longer. In 2020, an apple tree believed to be the oldest in the Pacific Northwest died at the ripe old age of 194. 

Apples Are Very Healthy 

A man sitting on cliff and eating a green apple.
Credit:  C Production/ Shutterstock

It may take more than an apple a day to keep you out of the doctor’s office, but these fruits are loaded with nutritional benefits. Along with high levels of vitamin C and fiber, apples are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants such as quercetin. Research has shown that a steady diet of apples can reduce the chances of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers, while supporting weight loss and gut health. Of course, these benefits are best realized by eating raw, unpeeled apples, as opposed to gorging on sugar-filled ciders and pies.

Apple Pie Originated in England

Apple pie and ice cream.
Credit: MSPhotographic/ Shutterstock

Speaking of apple pie, this quintessentially American dish actually hails from England, with one of the first known recipes appearing in the late-14th-century manuscript The Forme of Cury. Arriving in the New World with European settlers, the dessert was well known within the borders of the nascent United States by the late 1700s, as evidenced by the presence of two recipes in the 1796 cookbook American Cookery. By the mid-1900s, the combination of advertising and war-fueled patriotism had embedded the “American as apple pie” concept in popular culture.

The Heaviest Apple Ever Weighed More Than 4 Pounds

Three ripe apples from biggest to smallest.
Credit: TRR/ Shutterstock

According to the Guinness World Record scorekeepers, the heaviest known apple was a 4-pound, 1-ounce behemoth picked at a Hirosaki City, Japan, farm in 2005. The prize specimen was a Hokuto, a cross between the Fuji and Matsu varieties.

Apples Are Best Stored Separately From Other Produce in the Refrigerator

Ripe apples in a fruit box in the refrigerator.
Credit:Endless luck/ Shutterstock

Those who return from the store or orchard with a hefty quantity of apples should consider stuffing as many as possible in the fridge; although apples will last about a week when left out on the counter, they can remain suitably edible for up to two months when refrigerated. But regardless of where you leave them, apples should be stored separately from other fruits and vegetables, as they release a gas called ethylene that speeds up the ripening and spoiling of nearby produce.

Happy apple-ing!

Jackie and Robin

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