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October 2002 Issue
An Apple a Day
by Patty Waage
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Most people don't know that apples are thought to have originally been the result of a cross between a plum in the rose family and a flower called meadowsweet. It resulted in a small bitter fruit. There are now more than ten thousand varieties of apples on earth! The apple is originally thought to have come from Asia. The domestic apple slowly spread across the continents to Europe. Early settlers brought cuttings and seeds from Europe with them to plant vast orchards along the eastern seaboard when they colonized the US. Slowly, as Americans settled the west, they brought with them cuttings and seeds and now orchards dot the countryside across the US. The Spanish and Portuguese people introduced apples to South America and eventually into California.

We've all heard the story of one of the most famous settlers, Johnny Appleseed, known for wandering the wilderness planting his seeds wherever he went. Johnny Appleseed spent 49 years of his life in the American wilderness planting apple seeds. Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman. He was born September 26, 1774 in Massachusetts. He created apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio. After 200 years, some of those trees still bear fruit.

Johnny Appleseed's dream was for a land where blossoming apple trees were everywhere and no one was hungry. A gentle and kind man, he slept outdoors and walked barefoot around the country planting apple seeds everywhere he went. It is even told that he made his drinking water from snow by melting it with his feet! Johnny was a friend to everyone he met. Indians and settlers -- even the animals -- liked Johnny Appleseed. His clothes were made from sacks and his hat was a tin pot. He also used his hat for cooking. Johnny Appleseed died in 1845. It was the only time he had been sick -- in over 70 years! I guess the old adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is true!

We've all heard the expression, "American as apple pie!" but what about the classic Apple Brown Betty? The brown betty is an early American classic dish with many different variations. Apple Brown Betty is one of the oldest desserts in American culinary history, dating back to colonial times. Made with buttered breadcrumbs, spices, sweet apples and a generous splash of sherry, this rustic dish is sure to please modern tastes as well.

Another American favorite is the apple crisp. It has as many variations as the brown betty, but hasn't been around as long.

Last but not least, we can't forget to mention the apple pie. Whether you like your apples sweet, or tart, this favorite is sure to please. Apple pie like many recipes can vary with different crusts and toppings. Even the apples used inside can change the taste of a good pie.

Apples come in a variety of flavors and sizes, from the Washington to the Jonathan, to the Granny Smith. Red, green or golden, sweet or tart, no matter what your taste, there is an apple recipe out there for you! So remember, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

 

Dutch Apple Crumble

Crumbles and crisps offer the flavor of homemade pie without the fuss of making pastry.
  • 6 Gala or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate. Prepare Filling: In large bowl, combine apple slices, brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Transfer apple mixture to pie plate. In medium-size bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and salt. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Gather small amounts of crumb mixture and press together to make large streusel-like pieces. Arrange crumble randomly on top of filling. Bake 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden.
  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes
 

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