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Autor: anton 28 August 2010
Words: 1561 | Pages: 7
The Apple is a fruit of the temperate zones and only reaches perfection in their cooler regions. It is a fruit of long descent and in the Swiss lake-dwellings small apples have been found, completely charred but still showing the seed-valves and the grain of the flesh. It exists in its wild state in most countries of Europe and also in the region of the Caucasus: in Norway, it is found in the lowlands as far north as Drontheim.
The Crab-tree or Wild Apple (Pyrus malus), is native to Britain and is the wild ancestor of all the cultivated varieties of apple trees. It was the stock on which were grafted choice varieties when brought from Europe, mostly from France. Apples of some sort were abundant before the Norman Conquest and were probably introduced into Britain by the Romans. Twenty-two varieties were mentioned by Pliny: there are now about 2,000 kinds cultivated. In the Old Saxon manuscripts there are numerous mentions of apples and cider. Bartholomeus Anglicus, whose Encyclopedia was one of the earliest printed books containing botanical information (being printed at Cologne about 1470), gives a chapter on the Apple. He says:
'Malus the Appyll tree is a tree yt bereth apples and is a grete tree in itself. . . it is more short than other trees of the wood wyth knottes and rinelyd Rynde. And makyth shadowe wythe thicke bowes and branches: and fayr with dyurs blossomes, and floures of swetnesse and Iykynge: with goode fruyte and noble. And is gracious in syght and in taste and vertuous in medecyne . . . some beryth sourysh fruyte and harde, and some ryght soure and some ryght swete, with a good savoure and mery.'
---Description---The Crab-tree is a small tree of general distribution in Britain south of Perthshire. In most respects it closely resembles the cultivated Apple of the orchard differing chiefly only in the size and flavour of the fruit. Well-grown specimens are not often met with, as in woods and copses it is cramped by other trees and seldom attains any considerable height, 30-foot specimens being rare and many being mere bushes. Those found in hedgerows have often sprung from the seeds of orchard apples that have reverted to ancestral type. The branches of the Crab-tree become pendant, with long shoots which bear the leaves and flowers. The leaves are dark green and glossy and the flowers, in small clusters on dwarf shoots are produced in April and May. The buds are deeply tinged with pink on the outside the expanded flowers an inch and a half across, and when the trees are in full bloom, they are a beautiful sight.
The blossoms, by their delightful fragrance and store of nectar, attract myriads of bees, and as a result of the fertilization effected by these visitors in their search for the buried nectar, the fruit develops and becomes in autumn the beautiful little Crab Apple, which when ripe is yellow or red in colour and measures about an inch across. It has a very austere and acid juice, in consequence of which it cannot be eaten in the raw condition, but a delicious jelly is made from it, which is always welcome on the table, and the fruit can also be used for jammaking, with blackberries, pears or quinces. In Ireland, it is sometimes added to cider, to impart a roughness. The fruit in some varieties is less acid than in others: in the variety in which the fruit hangs down from the shoots, the little apples are exceedingly acid, but in another kind, they stand more or less erect on their stalks and these are so much less acid as to give almost a suggestion of sweetness. The fruit of the Siberian Crab, or Cherry-apple, grown as an ornamental tree, makes also a fine preserve.
Cider Apples may be considered as a step in development from the Wild Apple to the Dessert Apple. Formerly every farmhouse made its cider. The apples every autumn were tipped in heaps on the straw-strewn floor of the pound house, a building of cob, covered with thatch, in which stood the pounder and the press and vats and all hands were busy for days preparing the golden beverage. This was the yearly process - still carried out on many farms of the west of England, though cider-making is becoming more and more a product of the factories. One of the men turned the handle of the pounder, while a boy tipped in the apples at the top. A pounder is a machine which crushes the apples between two rollers with teeth in them. The pulp and juice are then taken to the press in large shovels which have high sides and are scored bright by the acid. The press is a huge square tray with a lip in the centre of the front side and its floor slopes towards this opening. On either side are huge oaken supports on which rests a square baulk of the same wood. Through this works a large screw. Under the timber is the presser Directly the pulp is ready, the farmer starts to prepare the 'cheese.' First of all goes a layer of straw, then a layer of apples, and so on until the 'cheese' is a yard high, and sometimes more. Then the ends of straw which project are turned up to the top of the heap. Now the presser is wound down and compresses the mound until the clear juice runs freely. Under the lip in the front of the cider press is put a vat. The juice is dipped from this into casks. In four months' time the cider will be ready to drink.
The demand for cider has increased rapidly of late years, chiefly on account of the dry varieties being so popular with sufferers from rheumatism and gout. As very good prices have been paid in recent seasons for the best cider apples, and as eight tons per acre is quite an average crop from a properly-managed orchard in full bearing, it is obvious to all progressive and up-to-date farmers and apple-growers that this branch of agriculture is well worthy of attention. In the last few years, with the object of encouraging this special Applegrowing industry, silver cups have been awarded to the owners of cider-apple orchards in Devon who make the greatest improvement in the cultivation of their orchards during the year, and it is hoped this will still further stimulate the planting of new orchards and the renovation of the old ones.
The peculiar winy odour is stimulating to many. Pliny, and later, Sir John Mandeville, tell of a race of little men in 'Farther India' who 'eat naught and live by the smell of apples.' Burton wrote that apples are good against melancholy and Dr. John Caius, physician to Queen Elizabeth, in his Boke of Counseille against the Sweatynge Sicknesse advises the patient to 'smele to an old swete apple to recover his strengthe.' An apple stuck full of cloves was the prototype of the pomander, and pomatum (now used only in a general sense) took its name from being first made of the pulp of apples, lard and rosewater.
In Shakespeare's time, apples when served at dessert were usually accompanied by caraway, as we may read in Henry IV, where Shallow invites Falstaff to 'a pippin and a dish of caraway,' In a still earlier Booke of Nurture, it is directed 'After mete pepyns, caraway in comfyts.' The custom of serving roast apples with a little saucerful of Carraways is still kept up at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at some of the old-fashioned London Livery dinners, just as in Shakespeare's days.
The taste for apples is one of the earliest and most natural of inclinations; all children love apples, cooked or uncooked. Apple pies, apple puddings, apple dumplings are fare acceptable in all ages and all conditions.
Apple cookery is very early English: Piers Ploughman mentions 'all the povere peple' who 'baken apples broghte in his lappes' and the ever popular apple pie was no less esteemed in Tudor times than it is to-day, only our ancestors had some predilections in the matter of seasonings that might not now appeal to all of us, for they put cinnamon and ginger in their pies and gave them a lavish colouring of saffron.
Apple Moyse is an old English confection, no two recipes for which seem to agree. One Black Letter volume tells us to take a dozen apples, roast or boil them, pass them through a sieve with the yolks of three or four eggs, and as they are strained temper them with three or four spoonfuls of damask (rose) water; season them with sugar and half a dish of sweet butter, and boil them in a chafing dish and cast biscuits or cinnamon and ginger upon them.
Halliwell says, upon one authority, that apple moyse was made from apples after they had been pressed for cider, and seasoned with spices.
Probably the American confection, Apple Butter, is an evolution of the old English dish? Apple butter is a kind of jam made of tart apples, boiled in cider until reduced to a very thick smooth paste, to which is added a flavouring of allspice, while cooking. It is then placed in jars and covered tightly
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