Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN, Senior Nutritionist
Apples are delicious, certifiably good for us, and are so connected to our region and culture. It is a well-known symbol of health, often a first fruit for many young children, and their aroma as you bake them into your “famous” family apple pie recipe is like getting a hug from your kitchen!
According to the U.S. Apple Association, apples originated in the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian seas. Immigrants brought them along as they moved around the world. The Unites States is the second largest apple producer in the world, with China in first place.
New England, Pennsylvania and New York all have a long history and reputation for their apple industries and traditions. In New England, some of the oldest apple orchards are still producing. The earliest record of cultivated apples comes from Massachusetts, in 1635 – just 3 years after the Pilgrims landed. For some family orchards, 9 generations of apple growers have kept their traditions going. Apple folklore tells the tale of Johnny Appleseed. He was a real person, named John Chapman, from Leominster, Mass., an itinerant preacher and apple nurseryman, planting seeds from New England to Indiana. Now second in the country, New York State produces over 29 million bushel of apples per year – enough for 500 million apple pies!
Now, over 200 varieties and numerous heirlooms are grown all across the country. They range from tart to sweet, with over 67% grown for fresh eating. My son loves Granny Smiths – definitely on the tart side, wonderful baking apples, he was grinning from ear to ear as he picked some fresh from a local orchard. We have worked with local growers for generations as well, as part of our home.grown produce program. Traditional and new varieties all have a place in our stores and on your family table. Check out some wonderful recipes, and add them to your plans to enjoy more family meals now and all year long. What a great recipe for making your own family traditions!