Apples are one among the top fruits of the world. The apple tree is a member of the Rose family and a deciduous tree bearing the most popular fruit, the apple.
The apple tree originated millions of years ago in the country side of Kazakhstan in central Asia. It has been consumed by humans for many centuries. They were brought to North America by European settlers. Today, it is the second most popular fruit in the U.S., behind only the banana.
Apples have mythological and religious significance in many cultures like European Christian, Norse and Greek traditions. They are also part of traditional proverbs like-“An Apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Apple trees are large if cultivated from seeds and small if grown by grafting onto roots. There exist over 7500 popular cultivars of apples today. Apples are used for many purposes like eating raw, cooking and preparing cider (apple drink).
In 2013, around 80 million tonnes of apples were grown globally, with China accounting for nearly half. Other leading producers are US, Italy, Turkey, India and Poland. Trade of apples in fruit baskets is trending all over the world.
Apples are considered very healthy food. They are rich in fibre and low in calories and cholesterol. They are rich in minerals and vitamins. A diet of apples is proved to be preventing strokes and cancers and reducing prospects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Allergy to apples does exist but is very rare.
Apple harvesting in the new world was pioneered by European settlers in 1607 at Jamestown. They were responsible for producing all new varieties of apples in North America. Apples of that time were fairly bitter in comparison to today, but they served as raw material for an important product-cider.
Cider became a popular beverage in England with Norman Conquest in 1066. Fresh varieties of apples were also introduced from France. Cider rose so high in popularity that it was even used to pay salaries.
Apple has enjoyed an iconic status in American culture but today, it trails behind Banana as the nation’s favourite fruit. Americans enjoy average figure of 28 pounds of banana yearly while apples account for only 19 pounds.
But banana production is concentrated in states of Hawaii and Florida while apples are grown in almost every state. Apple production is third in line to grapes and oranges. It accounts for $2.7 billion in annual revenues.
Apples grown commercially are ideally soft and crisp. Some other qualities desired in apples are lack of russeting, vibrant colour, long storability, easy shipping, common shape, resistance to disease and good flavour. Sour apples are popular in America and Europe while very sweet apples are in high demand in Indian sub continent.
Apples can be stored in controlled temperature conditions to delay ethylene induced ripening. In homes, apples can be stored fresh for up to two weeks in the cold part of the refrigerator. Some varieties like Fuji and Grannie Smith can last for a year. Apples are among the best fruits to include when you are assembling a basket of fruit for a gift.