issue 212 - October 1990
Apples crop up everywhere from the dinner table to our most ancient myths
and legends. The NI examines the facts about this multifarious fruit.
Top ten apples in the world
1. Red Delicious
2. Granny Smith
3. Golden Delicious
7. Renette du Canada
Top ten apples in the US
1. Red Delicious 1,851
2. Golden Delicious 693
3. McIntosh 304
4. Rome 257
5. Jonathan 167
6. York 109
7. Stayman 84
8. Newtown 79
9. RI Greening 65
10. Cortland 53
Main apple producers 19853
· Fruit and vegetables are the second most valuable item to South Africa's economy and earned $119 million in 1987 - a fall of 5% on 1986 - reflecting the impact of consumer boycotts and sanctions in the West.4
· Australia produced 360,000 tonnes of apples in 1989 of which 150,000 tonnes were processed and 20,000 tonnes exported. Of the total produced, 54% were Delicious; 27% Granny Smith; 9% other varieties; 8% Jonathans and 2% early apples.5
· Over 80% of Aotearoa/New Zealand's apples are grown in Hawke's Bay on North Island and in Nelson on South Island. They include Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Braeburn, Cox's Orange Pippin and Gala. Around 9.8 million are exported - mainly to the Pacific, South East Asia, Europe and North America.6
· Apples are Canada's most important fruit crop. Red and Golden Delicious are most popular, followed by McIntosh, Spy, Cortland, Spartan and Idared.
· Apples are Chile's second largest export crop after grapes (in terms of area planted). Overall shipments of fruit abroad earned $524 million for Chile in foreign currency during 1988/89.7
One medium-sized apple (100 grams) contains.6
The saying 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' contains some truth.
. Recent research suggests that apples - along with some other fruit - contain ellagic acid, which may help us fight off skin and lung cancer.
. For every pound of apples a person eats, the cholesterol level is reduced by one per cent.5
. Eating an apple 15 minutes before a meal helps slimming because the cellulose bulk gives a 'full-up' feeling and reduces calorie intake at mealtimes.6
. In mediaeval times cider was given to sailors bound on long voyages partly as a palliative for scurvy.9
The word for apple is similar in many European languages. Celtic: 'abhall'; Cornish: 'avail'; German: 'apfel'; Irish: 'abhal'; Welsh: 'afal'; Dutch: 'appel"'. Such words seem to derive from Gothic, which in turn stems from Indo-European. The Latin word for both fruit and apple is 'pomum' and this has given rise to many other European words.
Pomander - a mixture of aromatic substances carried as a scent or as protection against disease. From the Latin pomum ambrae meaning 'apple of amber'.
Pome - the fleshy fruit of the apple and related plants, comprising an enlarged receptacle enclosing the ovary and seeds.
Pomme de terre - French for potato meaning apple at the ground.
Pomegranate - an Asian shrub or small tree cultivated in semi-tropical regions for its edible fruit - derives from Latin pomum meaning 'apple' and grenate meaning 'full of seeds'.
Pomiculture - fruit cultivation.
Pomology - the branch of horticulture concerned with the study of fruit.
· Aubergines/eggplants were called 'mad apples' because they were thought to cure insanity.12
· Avalon - where the legendary King Arthur went to be healed of his wounds - was named after the Cornish word for apple and was an island of apple trees.11
· The Australian term she's apples means all is well.
· Apple of my eye derives from the Bible and means 'child of the eye', child being the eyeball and especially the pupil which is the organ of vision. Its preciousness makes it a symbol of God's love for human beings.14
· Apple of discord comes from a Greek myth about a golden apple that was inscribed with 'for the fairest'. It was claimed by three goddesses - Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. Paris awarded it to Aphrodite, beginning a chain of events that led to the Trojan War.
· Apples of Sodom was how ancient writers described fruits that looked delicious but when eaten proved to be full of ashes. It now refers to anything disappointing.9
· In US slang apple sauce is 'nonsense' and an apple polisher is a sycophant.15
. Wassailing was originally probably a Roman fertility rite to praise and encourage Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees. It is still carried out in parts of the UK on Twelfth Night to ensure a good crop of apples the following year.9
. The Halloween game of bobbing apples - catching apples in a tub of water with your mouth - probably originated as an ancient harvest rite, possibly again in honour of the Roman goddess Pomona.9
. In Teutonic10 methology, heaven was likened to a vale of apple trees tended by the goddess Idun. The apples were the fruits of perpetual youth and gave the gods immortality.
1 Estimated after consultation with experts.
2 US Department of Agriculture, 1990.
3 The World in Figures, The Economist 1987.
4 Campaign Briefing No 1, February 1989.
5 Australian Horticultural Corp, 1990.
6 New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board.
7 Ministry of Agriculture in Economic Intelligence Unit Report No 1, 1990.
8 The English Apple and Pear Development Council (now disbanded).
9 The Apple Book, Peter Blackburne-Maze (Collingridge 1986).
10 Teutons were ancient Germanic people from Jutland who migrated to Gaul in the second century BC.
11 Cultivated Fruits of Britain, FA Roach (Basil Blackwell 1985).
12 The Fresh Produce Report 2, Geest/Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Information Bureau.
13 All the Plants of the Bible, Winifred Walker (Lutterworth Press 1958).
14 Dictionary of the Bible 1901.
15 Collins English Dictionary.