You know what they always say – “an apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Fun fact, this phrase actually originated in Wales during the 1860s. The original documented phrase was “eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread,” and then was shortened to what we know today during the 1910s.²

Not only are apples one of the most commonly grown fruits in the entire world, but they have also been used as a symbol in many different cultures, such as the “forbidden fruit” in the story of Adam and Eve, or as a symbol of love in Greek Mythology during the marriage of Zeus and Hera.

“Son of Man” by Rene Magritte, via Mental Floss

There have been thousands of famous poems, pieces of art and literature inspired by this common fruit, and today on National Eat a Red Apple Day, I want to figure out where the apple originated, and are there more varieties than just the ones available at my local grocery markets?

Origin of the Apple

 

 

What I found most interesting, due to their prevalence and popularity here in the States, is that apples didn’t actually originate in the U.S., but rather in Kazakhstan, located in Central Asia.

Interestingly enough, DNA research indicates that the “apples originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, where the wild Malus sieversii—the many-times great-grandparent of Malus domestica, the modern domesticated apple—still flourishes.”¹

They are said to have existed as far back as 750,000 years ago during early Paleolithic times, and spread to Europe by 1500 B.C.

It wasn’t until the late sixteenth century when the first apple trees were planted here in North America, and early settlers began to use them to both sustain their families, and trade with the Natives and other settlers.

Since the apple is versatile and can be enjoyed in many forms, such as baked, stewed, cider, dried, preserved, etc., it’s no secret that early settlers relied on this fruit to keep themselves and their families alive.

Varieties of Apples

As apples began to become more prevalent throughout the world, so did the amount of different varieties.

Currently, there are 7,500 identified varieties of apples, with only 2,500 of these grown in the U.S. (if you’re interested in taking a look at the entire list of apple varieties, click here)

We don’t have time to delve into all 7,500 varieties, but I can tell you which ones are most popular where we live, their flavor profile, and where you can find them at our market!

 

Varieties Available at Countryside Farmers’ Market

Braeburn

  • Combination of Sweet & Tart

Crimson Crisp

  • Sweet & Slightly Spicy

Empire

  • Sweet & Tart Combination

Fuji

  • Very Sweet

Gala

  • Sweet & Floral

Golden Delicious

  • Sweet, Slightly Spicy & Tart

Idared

  • Tart & Crisp

Jonagold

  • Sweet & Tangy

Mcintosh

  • Sweet & Tart, Some Tanginess

Northern Spy

  • Mildly Sweet & Tart

Rome

  • Mildly Sweet & Slightly Tangy

Stayman Winesap

  • Sweet & Tart, Wine-like

Photos via Apples of NY

All of these varieties can be found at Huffman Fruit Farm, both by preorder and at Countryside Old Trail School Winter Farmers’ Market.  

Sources

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/history-of-apples
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420713/
  3. https://historicsites.nc.gov/all-sites/horne-creek-farm/southern-heritage-apple-orchard/apples/apple-history/origins-apples

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