Peninsula Care Homes Care Manager, Margaret Haxton, shares her love of the humble apple in time for Apple Day.
Apple Day, 21 October, was launched in 1990 by Common Ground. The aspiration was to create a calendar custom, an autumn holiday. Up to this time I always thought of apples as…well, apples. But on looking into apples more carefully, I discovered that every apple planted from seed is unique, like every human being.
I had no idea that genetically, the apple behaves like humans do. It reproduces thanks to a male and female parent and the offspring will bear some family resemblance but will be different from them both. Every apple grown from a single seed is possibly a new variety of apple. The only way to get more trees of a variety you like is to take cuttings and graft them on to new rootstock that means for instance, every Bramley apple tree in the world is a cutting of a cutting of a cutting that can be traced back to one tree that grew randomly from a seed in Nottinghamshire. The same applies to all other established varieties, the Granny Smith from a tree in Sydney, Australia, and so on.
Because you can use the apple for cooking so many things, such as apple pies, toffee apples, cider, etc., it has always been important for rural communities, so much so that in past days people would gather in winter in the orchards and wassail theses trees, sing their praises, and driving out evil spirits from their branches with screaming and firing off guns. It sounds a bit pagan, because it is. In the late nineties wassailing was known to only a few West Country Morris men, but now a wassail attracts hundreds of people anxious to hold on to our traditions, much like other traditions as Beating the Bounds, where a few years ago only the parish councillors walked the parish bounds and beating landmarks to ensure the next parish knew where the boundaries were, are now accompanied by many walkers also determined not to forget our ancient past.
For those who love facts here are a few about apples:
- Apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fibre.
- There are 7,000 cultivated and named varieties in the world.
- Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
- Apples ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.
- The largest apple ever picked weighed 3 pounds.
- Apples are a member of the rose family.
- Apples account for 50 percent of international deciduous fruit tree production.
- A peck of apples weighs 10.5 pounds. A bushel of apples weighs about 42 pounds.
Well enough talking, I am off now to bake an apple and blackberry crumble, from apples grown in the bountiful orchard at Coppelia House and blackberries from my local hedgerows. Mustn’t forget the Clotted Cream!