Fun facts, apple varieties, growing apples, apple eaters

Apple Fun Facts

Not only are apples great tasting and good for your health, but they’re also a lot of fun! Here are some fun facts about apples:

  • The first apple trees were planted by the pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay colony.
  • The first apple nursery was opened in Flushing, NY in 1730.
  • The science of apple growing is referred to as pomology.
  • Apples are a member of the rose family, along with pears, peaches, plums and cherries.
  • Apples are not self-pollinating. They need bees to pollinate the flowers to form the fruit.
  • 25% of an apple’s volume is air, which is why they float.
  • There are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the U.S.; 7,500 varieties are grown throughout the world.
  • Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji are the five most commonly consumed apples in the U.S.
  • It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
  • One apple has 5 grams of fiber. They’re also fat, sodium and cholesterol free.
  • Don’t peel your apple! Two-thirds of the fiber and many of the antioxidants are found in the apple peel.
  • The game of apple-bobbing began as a Celtic New Year’s tradition for trying to determine one’s future spouse.
  • Americans eat an average of 50.4 pounds of apples and apple products each year.
  • The largest apple picked weighed three pounds.
  • The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY and was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)
  • The largest U.S. apple crop was 277.3 million bushels in 1998.
  • In 2005, Maryland produced close to 41 million pounds of apples.
  • According to the 2002 Census, Maryland has 208 baring orchards on almost 2,400 acres.
  • The top 5 apple producing counties in Maryland are (in order) Washington, Harford, Frederick, Montgomery, and Carroll.

Maryland Apple Varieties

Empire – McIntosh apple crossed with Red Delicious for unique taste. Crisp and excellent for snacks, desserts or salads.

Fuji – Very firm and unusually sweet. Red and green stripes. First discovered in Japan; a new favorite here.

Gala – Sweet and very flavorful with orange-striped skin and yellow flesh. A favorite for snacks and salads.

Ginger Gold – Outstanding early season, fresh from the orchard. Sweet, juicy and firm.

Golden Delicious – Sweet and mellow. Excellent for snacking, salads and all cooking purposes.

Jonagold – Blend of tart Jonathon and sweet Golden Delicious. One of the world’s most preferred varieties for flavor.

Jonathon – Moderately tart. Delicious for snacking, salads, and cooking.

McIntosh – Juicy and slightly tart. Great for eating fresh and baking.

Mutsu (Crispin) – Sweet and juicy, very firm in texture and crisp white flesh. Excellent for snacking and cooking.

Red Delicious – Sweet and juicy. A favorite for snacks and salads. Best for eating fresh out of hand.

Rome – Firm and slightly tart. Excellent for baking and all cooking purposes. A great keeping apple.

Stayman – Firm, rich flavor and mildly tart. Great all-purpose apple.

York – Crisp, firm and tart. Excellent for eating fresh and all cooking purposes.

Simplified Guide to the Year Round Process of Growing Apples

Commercial apple trees are not grown from seed because apple seeds do not produce “true to variety.” Instead, apple growers use grafting or budding to produce trees that will bear fruit of the same apple variety. In the same manner that apple trees grown from seeds may have the same “parents”, the seedling siblings would all be a little different. So, every apple seed can potentially produce a new variety. This is in part why more than 7,500 apple varieties have been identified worldwide!

To create an apple tree of a particular variety, growers graft a twig, called a scion, from

the “parent” tree onto a small, young tree called a rootstock, which is really nothing more than a slender whip with roots. The scion contains buds from which twigs and leaves will eventually grow. The trees are protected in nurseries for 1-2 years after they are grafted before being replanted by the grower in an orchard.

Also, budwood from different trees can be grafted onto the same rootstock creating a tree that will bear multiple varieties of apples.

Winter (November through March)

Dormant Pruning – This is the biggest job in the orchard. Most growers spend at least four months (December through March) pruning trees. Pruning has lots of benefits for the growers.

Shredding Brush – Most growers grind up the brush generated from pruning using heavy-duty flail choppers or mowers. This helps the wood break down quickly, adding organic matter to the soil and getting rid of a reservoir for rots and diseases.

Packing, Shipping and Marketing – Growers are continuing to pack, ship and market the apples they picked during September and October. Apples from Maryland orchards are sold many ways, ranging from on-farm markets, to grocery stores, to processing plants, to exports to Europe and Latin America.

Spring (April through June)

Planting – Bare dormant trees from the nursery are planted from late March to early May. The process of replacing an orchard involves a lot of steps and takes years.

  • Cut down old trees
  • Push out the stumps and remove old roots
  • Test for nutrients and add fertilizer and lime if needed
  • Plant and plow down annual crops to add organic matter to the soil
  • Establish a sod cover to protect the soil from erosion
  • Plant the tree
  • Spend 4-5 years training fertilizing, pruning, controlling weeds, mowing grass and trying to keep deer from eating young trees
  • After 6-8 years and a lot of work, the trees should produce enough apples for the grower to start making some money back from the block

Summer (July and August)

Harvest – Everything else gets pushed aside as growers concentrate on getting their apples picked.

  • Growers check color, taste, sugar levels and firmness of the apples to determine the best time for harvesting each variety.
  • Apples are picked individually by hand and must be free of bruises.
  • Apples are picked in large bins holding 20-25 bushels each (880-1100 pounds).
  • The bins are moved by tractor-mounted forklifts in the orchard.
  • They are loaded onto trucks for transport to their destination. Thus may be the packing facility, the processing plant, or to the cold storage for use at a later time.

Storage – Apple storages come in two flavors, regular and controlled atmosphere. Regular storages slow down the ripening process by cooling the apples to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This keeps apples in good shape for 3 – 4 months. Apples from regular storage are used from November through January. Controlled atmosphere storages also cool fruit to 32 degrees. The rooms are then sealed and oxygen is removed from the atmosphere in the room while carbon dioxide levels are increased. Apples can be stored for long periods of time (up to a year) with almost no loss in firmness or flavor using CA (controlled atmosphere) storages. This is why apples are available year round in the grocery stores.

What Kind of Apple Eater Are You?

There are almost as many ways to eat an apple as there are apple varieties. What kind of apple eater are you? Compare your munching method with these apple profiles.

Compulsive Wedger: This apple eater can’t eat the apple whole and must have perfect, core-free wedges neatly arranged on a plate. Each wedge must equal one-eighth of an apple.

Splitter: This apple eater hates to deal with the core, but isn’t compulsive enough to bother with wedges – just chop the apple in half, remove the core and munch contentedly. Muscle-bound types show off their brute force by twisting the apple in half with their bare hands (though in fact it’s really not that difficult).

Circle Stickler: This rebellious sort slices the apple against the grain – across the core, to make round slices. She can often be found with convenient slices of cheese at hand. This person knows that round apple slices are much better than crackers!

Top-to-Bottom Type: This methodical muncher starts at the stem and munches all the way down to the bottom. He doesn’t change the apple’s position until one vertical top-to-bottom pass had been completed. He then rotates the apple to continue in the next lane until the whole thing is done.

Equator Eater: Probably the most common approach, this muncher takes bites out of the center of the apple all the way around, until the apple looks something like a mushroom on a mirror. The nibbler then attacks the top, and finally the bottom, which is somewhat less convenient as there is no place left to hold apple without getting one’s fingers juicy – but she doesn’t mind!

The Streak: This eater prefers to eat his apples in the nude – the apple, that is! He does not care about what he’s been told about all those vitamins and fiber in the skin, peeling the stuff right off, preferably in one long winding piece. Once the peeling is complete, he either eats the apple whole or sliced. The latter method is usually employed, as the apple’s skinless state can lead to copious juice drippings.

Core-Free Cruncher: This muncher comes in two personalities. Type B loves gadgets and small appliances. He eats a lot of apples because he gets to use that nifty “apple corer” gadget. Type A is a seedophobic and doesn’t care whether she gets to use a gadget, knife or sharp fingernails – she just has to get those darned seeds out of there before she’ll even take one bite! The Type A personality does avoid core disposal issues, however.

Stem Plucker: Before the first bite, this apple muncher grabs the apple’s stem and twists, saying one letter of the alphabet with each turn. The letter at which the stem comes off has profound meaning, usually interpreted as the first initial of the name of the future spouse. (Married munchers, take note: Turns can be modified to ensure the stem comes out at the desired letter.) Particularly curious Stem Pluckers continue the ritual by poking the outside of the apple with the stem to determine the number of children they will have, said to be equal to the number of pokes it takes to break the skin of the apple. (Hey, we don’t make these things up, we just reprint ’em.) In a recent, incredibly unscientific poll, three out of four people surveyed reported themselves to be Stem Pluckers.