A Brief History of Apples

A Brief History of Apples

About Local Apples


Apples are an important crop in North Carolina. Our apples come from Creasman Farms in Henderson County, which is the largest apple producing  county in the state of North Carolina with 3,559 acres of apple orchards.


Apples are a fascinating crop because they must be grafted for genetic uniformity. If you grow an apple from seed, you will get a completely unique, never-before-seen apple variety. In that way,  apples are just like people!


You can find one of our favorite apple-related excerpts in Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. In the book, Pollan goes to Kazakhstan to see apples flourishing in their native habitat. The trees grow wild all around in a million different Dr. Seuss-like combinations,  some with large fruits, others with small, berry-like fruits.


Crabapples are the only apples native to North America, but settlers brought the  sweet varieties from their home countries and  planted  them here. In North Carolina, legend has it that William Mills, an early settler in the area, planted the first apple trees on his farm in Fruitland in the late 18th century.

Although the area’s apples have a long history, the industry has changed rapidly in the past two decades. In 1983 – the height of production – apples produced in North Carolina were worth $415 million, according to state agricultural statistics. But when the National Fruit plant in Lincolnton closed in 1997, and the Gerber plant in Asheville closed in 1998, many nearby growers, who grew fruit for processing into baby food and applesauce, gave up. By 2001, the apple industry was worth just $16 million statewide, and orchard acreage in Henderson County had decreased by about half.

Today, the apple industry has transformed  into a more locally focused market.  Many apple farmers grow for apple lovers just like you! Agritourism and the local food movement are a huge part of what makes apple farming a viable industry in Western North Carolina. Thank you so much for your support!

Apples to Try

You could slice them  up and have  a formal “apple tasting,” just like a wine tasting. You could use the chart on the following page to  track your  observations.

Or you could cook a meal using different apples in each dish!

Want to  keep it simple? Just enjoy the apples the old fashioned way, one at a time, eaten whole as a snack!

Here are a few varieties to know:

  • Gala Apples These apples are famous! You’ve probably experienced Gala apples before because they  are  very common. Their red and pink stripes make them an attractive apple, and their mild, delicate flavor is pleasing to most palettes. They are  the parent variety of many other  types of apples! The delicate flavor and texture of the Gala apple shines in fresh preparations. Try them in fruit, green and chopped salads. Add diced gala to fruit salsas and chutneys. Slice and add to burgers, paninis and crostinis. Foods such as pears, winter squash, onions, pecans, turkey, curry, brie, cheddar and Swiss cheese complement the flavor of Gala apples. 
  • Blondee Apples Developed from Gala apples, Blondee apples play to the strengths of their parent  while adding a beautiful golden skin, a feast for the eyes! They have a mild, sweet taste with almost no acidity. There are hints of honey, green banana, ginger, and melon. Try these from the hand because they excel as a solo, snacking  apple, or mix them with tarter apples to create a baked, delicious treat! Use them anywhere you might use a Gala apple, above.
  • Honeycrisp Apples A well-branded apple if we ever saw one! These  colorful apples are a favorite with consumers because the name is catchy and the fruit is incredibly juicy! In fact, apple growers have a love/hate relationship with Honeycrisp apples because  their juiciness is  the result of larger cells, and larger-celled apple varieties don’t store as well as their smaller-celled relatives. Honeycrisp is an incredible snacking apple to eat sliced or from the hand,  but you might also try  it in coleslaw or atop a hamburger or sandwich!Their creamy white flesh is exceptionally crisp and aromatic. A balanced content of sugar and acid gives Honeycrisp apples a pleasant sweet-tart flavor that varies in strength depending upon the maturity of the apple.  
  • Ginger Gold Apples We love the name of this apple. We do wish  the flavor were more ginger-y, but they are crisp and tart with a hint of spiciness. The sharp flavor pairs well with cheddar cheese. You  might  also try dehydrating  these apples and making  apple chips!
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    A  Sample Menu

    Want to try preparing an apple-inspired meal? Here’s an idea!

    Appetizer: Charcuterie plate with Ginger Gold apples, cheddar cheese, salami, veggies, crackers

    Salad: Mixed greens topped with roasted butternut squash cubes, Blondee apples, pickled onions

    Main Course: Hamburgers  with a Honeycrisp slice on top

    Dessert: Apple cobbler with Gala and Ginger Gold apples


    Apple Tasting Chart

    Variety

    Color

    Smell

    Example: rosewater, honeysuckle, lime

    Texture

    Example: chewy, crisp, juicy

    Flavors

    Example: cantaloupe, lemons, earth




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