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Apple Cider Sweet and Sour

September 13, 2010

Though the forbidden fruit mentioned in the book of Genesis is not identified, popular tradition holds that it was with an apple that Eve coaxed Adam to disobey the Almighty. As a result, the apple became a symbol for temptation.

The larynx in the human throat is called the Adam’s Apple. The origin of the name came from the notion that it was a chunk of the fruit sticking in the throat of Adam.

Apples have long been associated with romance and affection. Venus is often depicted holding an apple. An apple is a traditional gift for a beloved teacher.

According to Irish folklore, an apple peel, pared into one long continuous ribbon and thrown behind a woman’s shoulder, will land in the shape of her future husband’s initials.

In Ancient Greece, a man throwing an apple to a woman was a proposal of marriage. If she caught the fruit, it meant she accepted the proposal.

When I was a boy, there was an old apple tree in the yard of an abandoned farm house down a dirt road beyond our house. In the autumn of the year, the ground was littered with rotten apples. Apple fights, spontaneous frays, were great fun. Late one September afternoon, beneath the old apple tree, the battle was joined. All went well until a buddy of mine threw a rotten apple at me. I ducked.

The apple sailed over my head and toward his girlfriend. The rotten apple hit her in the face! He was no longer the apple of her eye!

Apples have played an important role in science. Sir Isaac Newton, upon witnessing an apple fall from its tree, was inspired to postulate the law of gravity.

A leader in the development of cyber technology, Apple Computers adopted the fruit as a logo for their company.

Apples have found prominence in history and in fiction. Swiss folklore holds that William Tell courageously used his crossbow to shoot an apple from his son’s head, defying a tyrannical ruler and bringing freedom to his people.

Snow White, the fairytale princess, slept in a deep coma induced by a poisoned apple, a gift from her wicked stepmother.

Apples have also been linked to good health. An old proverb attests to the health benefits of the fruit: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. Like many fruits, apples contain vitamin C, as well as a host of other antioxidant compounds. They may also assist with heart health, weight loss, and cholesterol control. The chemicals in apples may protect us from the brain damage that results in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Each year in early September, the town of Hendersonville hosts the North Carolina Apple Festival.  In the mountains of North Carolina, the expression, Let’s talk about apples, means, Let’s forget about our troubles and think about something pleasant.

Before the American Revolution, William Mills became the first apple grower in Henderson County, North Carolina.  In 1782, Asa and Samuel Edney married the Mills daughters. Their community, Edneyville, was soon known as the core of the North Carolina apple industry.

Clare and I enjoy driving to the mountains in the fall to buy fresh apples from our favorite roadside stand. The display features more than thirty varieties of the fruit and other apple products – bread, jellies, and beverages.

Juice made from sweet apples is filtered and pasteurized. Apple cider is unfiltered and unpasteurized juice. Apple wine is fermented sweet apple juice. Apple brandy is a distilled derivative.

Many old apple cultivars have excellent flavor and are still grown by home gardeners and farmers whose conservation efforts continue in the tradition of John Chapman. An American pioneer, he roamed the Midwest for more than fifty years. He earned his nickname, Johnny Appleseed, by planting apple trees across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

The apples planted by Johnny Appleseed were the bitter variety. Henry David Thoreau wrote that the apples were “sour enough to set a squirrel’s teeth on edge and make a jay scream.” Unknowingly, John Chapman provided a source for the most easily produced alcoholic beverage of early American times. Hard cider is fermented sour juice. Apple Jack is concentrated hard cider. President John Adams held that a tankard of cider a day kept the doctor away.

Unfiltered apple cider vinegar has long been regarded as a home remedy. Check the label. The vinegar must be unfiltered! Two tablespoons of the sour elixir mixed in a glass of water as a daily tonic is said to relieve or cure a number of ailments. The long list includes allergies, sinus infections, acne, high cholesterol, flu, chronic fatigue, acid reflux, sore throats, contact dermatitis, arthritis, and gout. Apple cider vinegar breaks down fat and promotes weight loss.  A daily dose of apple cider vinegar in water is said to reduce high blood pressure and help control diabetes.

Clare’s aunt and uncle were true believers in the powers of apple cider vinegar. Mitch and Helen imbibed the remedy every day. They were traveling on a nostalgic train trip. Box lunches were served to all the passengers. Every person aboard developed food poisoning except Mitch and Helen. To this day, family lore holds that the apple cider vinegar protected them.

By the way, Mitch and Helen both died years ago.

Kirk H. Neely
© September 2010

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