Botanical: Pyrus malus
Family: N.O. Pomaceae
–Synonyms—Wild Apple. Malus communis.
—Parts Used—The fruit and the bark.
—Habitat—Temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
—History—The Apple is a fruit of the temperate zones and only reaches perfection in their cooler regions. It is a fruit of long descent and in the Swiss lake-dwellings small apples have been found, completely charred but still showing the seed-valves and the grain of the flesh. It exists in its wild state in most countries of Europe and also in the region of the Caucasus: in Norway, it is found in the lowlands as far north as Drontheim.
The Crab-tree or Wild Apple (Pyrus malus), is native to Britain and is the wild ancestor of all the cultivated varieties of apple trees. It was the stock on which were grafted choice varieties when brought from Europe, mostly from France. Apples of some sort were abundant before the Norman Conquest and were probably introduced into Britain by the Romans. Twenty-two varieties were mentioned by Pliny: there are now about 2,000 kinds cultivated. In the Old Saxon manuscripts there are numerous mentions of apples and cider. Bartholomeus Anglicus, whose Encyclopedia was one of the earliest printed books containing botanical information (being printed at Cologne about 1470), gives a chapter on the Apple. He says:
‘Malus the Appyll tree is a tree yt bereth apples and is a grete tree in itself. . . it is more short than other trees of the wood wyth knottes and rinelyd Rynde. And makyth shadowe wythe thicke bowes and branches: and fayr with dyurs blossomes, and floures of swetnesse and Iykynge: with goode fruyte and noble. And is gracious in syght and in taste and vertuous in medecyne . . . some beryth sourysh fruyte and harde, and some ryght soure and some ryght swete, with a good savoure and mery.’
—Description—The Crab-tree is a small tree of general distribution in Britain south of Perthshire. In most respects it closely resembles the cultivated Apple of the orchard differing chiefly only in the size and flavour of the fruit. Well-grown specimens are not often met with, as in woods and copses it is cramped by other trees and seldom attains any considerable height, 30-foot specimens being rare and many being mere bushes. Those found in hedgerows have often sprung from the seeds of orchard apples that have reverted to ancestral type. The branches of the Crab-tree become pendant, with long shoots which bear the leaves and flowers. The leaves are dark green and glossy and the flowers, in small clusters on dwarf shoots are produced in April and May. The buds are deeply tinged with pink on the outside the expanded flowers an inch and a half across, and when the trees are in full bloom, they are a beautiful sight.
The blossoms, by their delightful fragrance and store of nectar, attract myriads of bees, and as a result of the fertilization effected by these visitors in their search for the buried nectar, the fruit develops and becomes in autumn the beautiful little Crab Apple, which when ripe is yellow or red in colour and measures about an inch across. It has a very austere and acid juice, in consequence of which it cannot be eaten in the raw condition, but a delicious jelly is made from it, which is always welcome on the table, and the fruit can also be used for jammaking, with blackberries, pears or quinces. In Ireland, it is sometimes added to cider, to impart a roughness. The fruit in some varieties is less acid than in others: in the variety in which the fruit hangs down from the shoots, the little apples are exceedingly acid, but in another kind, they stand more or less erect on their stalks and these are so much less acid as to give almost a suggestion of sweetness. The fruit of the Siberian Crab, or Cherry-apple, grown as an ornamental tree, makes also a fine preserve.
Cider Apples may be considered as a step in development from the Wild Apple to the Dessert Apple. Formerly every farmhouse made its cider. The apples every autumn were tipped in heaps on the straw-strewn floor of the pound house, a building of cob, covered with thatch, in which stood the pounder and the press and vats and all hands were busy for days preparing the golden beverage. This was the yearly process – still carried out on many farms of the west of England, though cider-making is becoming more and more a product of the factories. One of the men turned the handle of the pounder, while a boy tipped in the apples at the top. A pounder is a machine which crushes the apples between two rollers with teeth in them. The pulp and juice are then taken to the press in large shovels which have high sides and are scored bright by the acid. The press is a huge square tray with a lip in the centre of the front side and its floor slopes towards this opening. On either side are huge oaken supports on which rests a square baulk of the same wood. Through this works a large screw. Under the timber is the presser Directly the pulp is ready, the farmer starts to prepare the ‘cheese.’ First of all goes a layer of straw, then a layer of apples, and so on until the ‘cheese’ is a yard high, and sometimes more. Then the ends of straw which project are turned up to the top of the heap. Now the presser is wound down and compresses the mound until the clear juice runs freely. Under the lip in the front of the cider press is put a vat. The juice is dipped from this into casks. In four months’ time the cider will be ready to drink.
The demand for cider has increased rapidly of late years, chiefly on account of the dry varieties being so popular with sufferers from rheumatism and gout. As very good prices have been paid in recent seasons for the best cider apples, and as eight tons per acre is quite an average crop from a properly-managed orchard in full bearing, it is obvious to all progressive and up-to-date farmers and apple-growers that this branch of agriculture is well worthy of attention. In the last few years, with the object of encouraging this special Applegrowing industry, silver cups have been awarded to the owners of cider-apple orchards in Devon who make the greatest improvement in the cultivation of their orchards during the year, and it is hoped this will still further stimulate the planting of new orchards and the renovation of the old ones.
The peculiar winy odour is stimulating to many. Pliny, and later, Sir John Mandeville, tell of a race of little men in ‘Farther India’ who ‘eat naught and live by the smell of apples.’ Burton wrote that apples are good against melancholy and Dr. John Caius, physician to Queen Elizabeth, in his Boke of Counseille against the Sweatynge Sicknesse advises the patient to ‘smele to an old swete apple to recover his strengthe.’ An apple stuck full of cloves was the prototype of the pomander, and pomatum (now used only in a general sense) took its name from being first made of the pulp of apples, lard and rosewater.
In Shakespeare’s time, apples when served at dessert were usually accompanied by caraway, as we may read in Henry IV, where Shallow invites Falstaff to ‘a pippin and a dish of caraway,’ In a still earlierBooke of Nurture, it is directed ‘After mete pepyns, caraway in comfyts.’ The custom of serving roast apples with a little saucerful of Carraways is still kept up at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at some of the old-fashioned London Livery dinners, just as in Shakespeare’s days.
The taste for apples is one of the earliest and most natural of inclinations; all children love apples, cooked or uncooked. Apple pies, apple puddings, apple dumplings are fare acceptable in all ages and all conditions.
Apple cookery is very early English: Piers Ploughman mentions ‘all the povere peple’ who ‘baken apples broghte in his lappes’ and the ever popular apple pie was no less esteemed in Tudor times than it is to-day, only our ancestors had some predilections in the matter of seasonings that might not now appeal to all of us, for they put cinnamon and ginger in their pies and gave them a lavish colouring of saffron.
Apple Moyse is an old English confection, no two recipes for which seem to agree. One Black Letter volume tells us to take a dozen apples, roast or boil them, pass them through a sieve with the yolks of three or four eggs, and as they are strained temper them with three or four spoonfuls of damask (rose) water; season them with sugar and half a dish of sweet butter, and boil them in a chafing dish and cast biscuits or cinnamon and ginger upon them.
Halliwell says, upon one authority, that apple moyse was made from apples after they had been pressed for cider, and seasoned with spices.
Probably the American confection, Apple Butter, is an evolution of the old English dish? Apple butter is a kind of jam made of tart apples, boiled in cider until reduced to a very thick smooth paste, to which is added a flavouring of allspice, while cooking. It is then placed in jars and covered tightly.
- The once-popular custom of wassailing the orchard-trees’ on Christmas Eve, or the Eve of the Epiphany, is not quite extinct even yet in a few remote places in Devonshire. More than three centuries ago Herrick mentioned it among his ‘Ceremonies of Christmas Eve’:
- ‘Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
- You many a Plum and many a Peare:
- For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
- As you do give them Wassailing.’
- The ceremony consisted in the farmer, with his family and labourers, going out into the orchard after supper, bearing with them a jug of cider and hot cakes. The latter were placed in the boughs of the oldest or best bearing trees in the orchard, while the cider was flung over the trees after the farmer had drunk their health in some such fashion as the following:
- ‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree!
- Whence thou may’st bud, and whence thou may’st blow,
- Hats full! Caps full!
- Bushel – bushel-bags full!
- And my pockets full too! Huzza!’
The toast was repeated thrice, the men and boys often firing off guns and pistols, and the women and children shouting loudly.
Roasted apples were usually placed in the pitcher of cider, and were thrown at the trees with the liquid. Trees that were bad bearers were not honoured with wassailing but it was thought that the more productive ones would cease to bear if the rite were omitted. It is said to have been a relic of the heathen sacrifices to Pomona. The custom also prevailed in Somersetshire and Dorsetshire.
- Roast apples, or crabs, formed an indispensable part of the old-fashioned ‘wassailbowl,’ or ‘good brown bowl,” of our ancestors.
- ‘And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
- In very likeness of a roasted Crab’
Puck relates in Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.
The mixture of hot spiced ale, wine or cider, with apples and bits of toast floating in it was often called ‘Lamb’s wool,’ some say from its softness, but the word is really derived from the Irish ‘la mas nbhal,’ ‘the feast of the apple-gathering’ (All Hallow Eve), which being pronounced somewhat like ‘Lammas-ool,’ was corrupted into ‘lamb’s wool.’ It was usual for each person who partook of the spicy beverage to take out an apple and eat it, wishing good luck to the company.
—Constituents—Various analyses show that the Apple contains from 80 to 85 per cent. of water, about 5 per cent. of proteid or nitrogenous material, from 10 to 15 per cent. of carbonaceous matter, including starch and sugar, from 1 to 1.5 per cent. of acids and salts. The sugar content of a fresh apple varies from 6 to 10 per cent., according to the variety. In spite of the large proportion of water, the fresh Apple is rich in vitamins, and is classed among the most valuable of the anti-scorbutic fruits for relieving scurvy. All apples contain a varying amount of the organic acids, malic acid and gallic acid, and an abundance of salts of both potash and soda, as well as salts of lime, magnesium, and iron.
It has been calculated that in 100 grams of dried apples, there are contained 1.7 milligrams of iron in sweet varieties and 2.1 milligrams in sour varieties. It has also been proved by analysis that the Apple contains a larger quantity of phosphates than any other vegetable or fruit.
The valuable acids and salt of the Apple exist to a special degree in and just below the skin, so that, to get the full value of an apple, it should be eaten unpeeled.
The bark of the Apple-tree which is bitter, especially the root-bark, contains a principle called Phloridzin, and a yellow colouring matter, Quercetin, both extracted by boiling water. The seeds give Amygdaline and an edible oil.
Apple oil is Amyl Valerate or Amylvaleric Ester. An alcoholic solution has been used as a flavouring liquid, called Apple Essence.
Fresh apple-juice is employed for the N.F. Ferrated Extract of Apples.
—Medicinal Uses—The chief dietetic value of apples lies in the malic and tartaric acids. These acids are of signal benefit to persons of sedentary habits, who are liable to liver derangements, and they neutralize the acid products of gout and indigestion. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is a respectable old rhyme that has some reason in it.
The acids of the Apple not only make the fruit itself digestible, but even make it helpful in digesting other foods. Popular instinct long ago led to the association of apple sauce with such rich foods as pork and goose, and the old English fancy for eating apple pie with cheese, an obsolete taste, nowadays, is another example of instinctive inclination, which science has approved.
The sugar of a sweet apple, like most fruit sugars, is practically a predigested food, and is soon ready to pass into the blood to provide energy and warmth for the body.
A ripe raw apple is one of the easiest vegetable substances for the stomach to deal with, the whole process of its digestion being completed in eighty-five minutes.
The juice of apples, without sugar, will often reduce acidity of the stomach; it becomes changed into alkaline carbonates, and thus corrects sour fermentation.
It is stated on medical authority that in countries where unsweetened cider is used as a common beverage, stone or calculus is unknown, and a series of inquiries made of doctors in Normandy, where cider is the principal drink, brought to light the fact that not a single case of stone had been met with during forty years.
- Ripe, juicy apples eaten at bedtime every night will cure some of the worst forms of constipation. Sour apples are the best for this purpose. Some cases of sleeplessness have been cured in this manner. People much inclined to biliousness will find this practice very valuable. In some cases stewed apples will agree perfectly well, while raw ones prove disagreeable. There is a very old saying:
- ‘To eat an apple going to bed
- Will make the doctor beg his bread.’
The Apple will also act as an excellent dentifrice, being a food that is not only cleansing to the teeth on account of its juices, but just hard enough to mechanically push back the gums so that the borders are cleared of deposits.
Rotten apples used as a poultice is an old Lincolnshire remedy for sore eyes, that is still in use in some villages.
It is no exaggeration to say that the habitual use of apples will do much to prolong life and to ameliorate its conditions. In the Edda, the old Scandinavian saga, Iduna kept in a box, apples that she gave to the gods to eat, thereby to renew their youth.
A French physician has found that the bacillus of typhoid fever cannot live long in apple juice, and therefore recommends doubtful drinking water to be mixed with cider.
A glucoside in small crystals is obtainable from the bark and root of the apple, peach and plum, which is said to induce artificial diabetes in animals, and thus can be used in curing it in human beings.
The original pomatum seems to date from Gerard’s days, when an ointment for roughness of the skin was made from apple pulp, swine’s grease, and rosewater.
The astringent verjuice, rich in tannin, of the Crab, is helpful in chronic diarrhoea.
The bark may be used in decoction for intermittent and bilious fevers.
Cider in which horse-radish has been steeped has been found helpful in dropsy.
Cooked apples make a good local application for sore throat in fevers, inflammation of the eyes, erysipelas, etc.
Stewed apples are laxative; raw ones not invariably so.
APPLE OF SODOM (Solanum sosomeum). This is a prickly species found near the Dead Sea, full of dust when ripe, the result of insects’ eggs deposited in the young fruit. Some regard the name as referring to Colocynth, and others again to Calatropis procera.
ADAM’S APPLE is a variety of the Lime (Citrus limetta). Superstition relates that a piece of the forbidden apple stuck in Adam’s throat, and his descendants ever after had the lump in the front of the neck which is so named.
MAY APPLE. American Mandrake, Racoonberry, Hog-apple, Devil’s Apple, Indian Apple, or Wild Lemon, a purgative used in liver complaints.
THORN-APPLE. Datura stramonium, Jamestown Weed, Stinkweed, or Apple of Peru has narcotic, anodyne leaves and seeds.
CUSTARD APPLES, or Annonas, grow in hotter countries than common apples. Several species are edible, especially Annona tripetela, A. squamosa and A. glabra. A. palustris of Jamaica, also called Shiningleaved Custard Apple or Alligator Apple, is said to be a strong narcotic. The wood is so soft that it is used for corks.
PINE APPLE is the fruit of Bromelia ananas, deriving its name from its pine-cone shape.
LOVE APPLE, or Tomato Plant, is the fruit of Solanum lycopersicum or Lycopersicum esculentum.
MAD, or JEW’S APPLE is the fruit of S. esculentum.
RED ASTRACEIAN APPLE is var. Astracanica of P. malus. Var. Paradisiaca and var. Pendula are also well-known.
Varieties of Crabs are Dartmouth or Hyslop, Fairy, John Downie, Orange, Transcendent and Transparent.
MALAY APPLE is the fruit of Eugenia malaccensis.
ROSE APPLE, or Jamrosade, is the fruit of E. jambos. The bark and seeds arc employed in diarrhoea and diabetes. Dose, of fluid extract, 10 minims or more, in hot water.
THE STAR APPLE (Chrysophyllum cainito) of the West Indies has an astringent, milky juice.
APPLE OF ACAJOU is a name of Anacardium occidentale, which yields a caustic oil used like croton oil. It is used in marking-ink. It also supplies a gum like gum-arabic.
CEDAR APPLES are excrescences on the trunk of Juniperus virginiana, used as an anthelmintic in the dose of from 10 to 20 grains three times a day.
ELEPHANT APPLE is the fruit of Feronia elephantum.
KANGAROO APPLE is the fruit of S. laciniatum.
KAU, or KEL APPLE is the South African name for the fruit of Abaria Kaffra.
MAMMEE APPLE is the fruit of Mammea americana.
MANDRAKE APPLE is the fruit of Mandragora officinalis.
MONKEY APPLE is the West Indian name for Clusia flava.
OAK-APPLES are spongy excrescences on the branches of oak-trees.
OATAHETTE APPLE is the fruit of Spondias dulcis.
PERSIAN APPLE is the name by which the peach was first known in Europe.
PRAIRIE APPLE is Psoralea esculenta.
WILD BALSAM APPLE is Ehinocystis lobata.
Plain Apple Marmalade, unspiced, is made by peeling, and coring and cutting up 12 lb. of apples and cooking very gently with 6 lb. of sugar and 1 quart of cider till the fruit is very soft. Then pour through a sieve and place in glass jars. This is delicious with cream as a sweet.
It is also possible to make a very delicious preserve called Apple Honey, by boiling apples slowly for a very long time without any addition of sugar. The people of Denmark make this in hayboxes, thus saving fuel. When cooked long enough it is thick and brown, and very sweet, and will keep any length of time.
Peel some nice-shaped firm apples, and for every 3 lb. allow 1 quart of vinegar, 4 lb. of sugar, 1 OZ. of stick cinnamon, and 1/2 oz. of cloves. Boil sugar, vinegar, and spices together, then put in the apples, and let them cook until tender. Put them into a jar; boil down the syrup quite thick, and pour it over. Cover and keep for a few months in a cool place.
4 lb. apples. 3 pt. water.
4 lb. sugar. 2 OZ. essence of ginger.
Boil sugar and water until they form a syrup. Add ginger. Pare, core and quarter apples, boil them in the syrup until transparent. Place in warm, clean, dry jars. Tie down at once.
Another recipe. 3 lb. of apples, 1/4 lb. of preserved ginger. Pare apples and cut up in small pieces. Put in a basin of water till required; then put skins and cores into preserving pan, cover with water and boil till tender; strain and measure juice. To 3 pints of juice allow 2 lb. of sugar. Take next the cut apples and weigh them. To every 3 lb. allow 2 lb. of sugar. Put apples, juice, sugar and ginger all together into pan, and boil till ready.
6 lb. apples (any kind).
Wipe and cut apples in four, remove bad parts. Place in preserving pan with lemon, well cover with water. Boil to a pulp. Place in a bag, allow to drip into a clean basin all night. Return to pan, adding 1 lb. sugar to each pint of juice. Boil for 3/4 hour or until jelly will set. Pour into clean, dry, warm jar. Tie down at once.
Cook the Crab-apples with 6 cloves and an inch of ginger until the fruit is soft. Strain, boil again and add 3/4 lb. of sugar to a pint of liquid. Let boil until it jells. To make a successful jelly, the fruit should not be cooked too long, and the sugar should be added just before the strained liquid boils.
Apples Stewed Whole
Take 6 large Red apples, wash carefully and put in a fruit kettle, with just enough boiling water to cover. Cover the kettle, and cook slowly until the apples are soft, with the skins broken and the juice a rich red colour. After removing the apples, boil the juice to a syrup, sweeten, and pour over the apples. A better plan is to make a syrup with sugar and water in which apples are stewed whole or sliced. Some add a clove, others the rind of lemon to improve the flavour.
Apples with Raisins
Pare, core, and quarter a dozen or more medium-sized apples. Clean thoroughly one fourth the weight of apples in raisins, and pour over them a quart of boiling water. Let them steep until well swollen, then add the apples, and cook until tender. Sugar to sweeten may be added if desired, although little will be needed unless the apples are very tart. Dried apples soaked overnight may be made much more palatable by stewing with raisins or English currants in the same way for about 40 minutes.
Slice thinly 3 or 4 apples without peeling. Boil in a saucepan with a quart of water and a little sugar until the slices become soft. The apple water must then be strained and taken cold.
Mutton Baked with Apples and Onions
2 lb. of mutton cutlets from neck, salt,1 onion, 4 medium-sized apples. Prepare the meat by removing the bone and superfluous fat. Season with salt and lay in a baking dish. Cover the meat with finely-sliced sour apples and finely-chopped onions. Bake in a moderate oven until the meat is tender, which will be about 1 hour.
There is an old recipe for Apple Bread, wherein to the sponge was added one-third as much grated apple, which is perhaps worth reviving.
In some years, especially in a drought, the number of windfalls in the orchard is unusually large. They should never be allowed to lie on the ground, as most of them contain grubs which will hatch out into insect pests that ruin the fruit trees. But not a single windfall need be wasted. Those which are big enough to peel can be used for puddings or tarts. The small fruit can be used for making jelly, by cutting each in half so as to remove any grub that may be present, and then proceeding in the usual manner, as given above. The jelly will be a brilliant red colour, equal to Crab-apple Jelly in taste and appearance.
Excellent chutneys, syrups, and jams can also be made from windfalls, which curiously enough so many housewives use only for stewing and baking, neglecting less humdrum methods, of which there are quite a number, of using the fruit. We give a few recipes:
Wash and wipe the fruit, remove any damaged portions, and cut into quarters without peeling or coring. Put it into a pan with the sugar, water, and flavouring, bring to the boil, and simmer until the fruit is soft. If too dry add a little more water. Rub through a sieve, and mix the puree with custard or cream.
Pears (windfall) or plums of any kind may be used in the same way, or apples and pears mixed.
Cut the windfall apples and pears in quarters (do not peel or core), put into a preserving pan with the plums, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer until soft. Press out all the juice by pouring the fruit on to a fine hair sieve. Strain the juice through muslin, and boil it quickly in an uncovered pan until thick like a syrup. Put the syrup into bottles and cork well. Tie bladder or run sealing wax over the corks, and store in a dry, cool place.
About 30 windfall apples, 2 OZ. of salt, 3/4 Ib. of brown sugar, 4 oz. of onions, 1 clove of garlic, 3 oz. of powdered ginger, 1/2 oz. of dried chillies, 1 OZ. of mustard seeds, 4 oz. of raisins, 1 quart of vinegar.
Peel, core and slice the apples, put them into a pan with the sugar and vinegar and simmer until the apples are soft. Wash the mustard seed with vinegar and dry in a cool oven. Stone and chop the raisins. Peel and slice the garlic and onions, slice the chillies and pound them all in a mortar with the ginger and mustard seeds. When the apples are soft add the rest of the ingredients and let the mixture become cold. Mix well and put into bottles. Cork and cover like jam.
Note – Some prefer not to pound the chillies, but to add them just before putting the chutney into the bottles.