Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Apple a Day...

Youngest apple picker
What's on my mind? Apples...

Monday marked our annual apple picking trip. We head out to D.K. Orchards (aka Vince Browns) usually after October 1st to pick our favorite variety, Ida Reds. It is always a fun time. You get to ride a tractor pulled wagon out to the orchard. This year we had gorgeous weather. It was in the 70s and sunshiny. We picked 3-1/2 bushels that will be converted into applesauce, apple butter, apple bread, and apple pies (or just eaten) over the next month or so. 

It was Meredith's first excursion to the apple orchard. I carried her in the snuggly carrier. She like grabbing the leaves, until she decided she was hungry. So there I sat on the wet ground in the middle of the orchard, feeding her. I guess you can take it with you. My big "helper boys" picked probably 5 of those 7 baskets. I am so thankful for them. I am also finding that they were not as size discriminatory as I would have been. Golf ball size apples may be cute to eat, but aren't easy to peel. And we ran across some friends at the orchard who helped carry a lot of the baskets to the wagon. Whenever I pick produce my eyes tend to be bigger than my stomach. I pick a lot, and then get it home, and wonder just what I was thinking.
Apples are a fascinating subject. Did you know there are over 7500 listed varieties? They are called cultivars. We have many varieties here in the States, but there are many more that are exclusive to various nations and regions of the world. I particularly like a tarter apple. Like Granny Smith. I remember someone saying once, "I'd hate to meet the granny that apple is named after."=) I also like Galas for eating. Crunchy, sweet, a little tart. I favor Ida Reds for all around goodness. They have a nice balance of sweet and tart. They are firm, so they make nice pies. They have a good shelf life. Nice and crunchy.
2 of the 7 baskets. 
Apples have a long history. There probably were apple trees in the Garden of Eden. There certainly are apples recorded in the most ancient writings. The apple tree was perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated. Alexander the Great transported apples with him as he conquered his world. Apples were brought to the Americas in the 17th century, with the earliest apple orchard planted near Boston in 1625. And school children are taught about Johnny Appleseed spreading his apples across our continent.

The idea that the apple was the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that Adam and Eve ate is a rather young one. Apples are the forbidden fruit in Greek mythology. Hercules climbed into the Garden of Hesperides to pick the 12 golden apples off the Tree of Life. During the Renaissance Period, artists began painting Adam and Eve with apples based on this idea of the forbidden fruit.
The finished product
The apple was  considered, in ancient Greece, to be sacred to Aphrodite, and to throw an apple at someone was to symbolically declare one's love; and similarly, to catch it was to symbolically show one's acceptance of that love. An epigram claiming authorship by Plato states:

I throw the apple at you, and if you are willing to love me, take it and share your girlhood with me; but if your thoughts are what I pray they are not, even then take it, and consider how short-lived is beauty.
Plato, Epigram VII

The saying "the apple of your eye" means the thing cherished above all else. Moses uses the term in Deuteronomy 32:10 to describe God's relationship with Israel, "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye." The prophet Zechariah warns, "he who toucheth you (Israel), toucheth the apple of His eye." (Zechariah 2:8)

Apples are ascribed health benefits. Who hasn't heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? That proverb dates from 19th century Wales.
So common, yet so complex...

And one last tidbit for impressing the youngins'...Guiness book of world records reports that the heaviest apple known weighed 1.849 kg (4 lb 1 oz) and was grown in Hirosaki city, Japan in 2005.

the "before" of my painting project

the "after" in all its Vanilla Custard glory