There’s History in Your Apple Sauce

Friday, October 11th, 2013

We all know apples are red, yellow, green, or somewhere in between. But did you know that, around the world, apples come in more than 7,500 varieties? From Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, and Granny Smith to Gala, Fuji, and Empire, each apple variety tastes a little (or a lot) different. Some are sweet, and others tart. Some are soft and others are firm. Some make perfect apple sauce, and others are best for just eating.

When we set out to make Musselman’s Apple Sauce, we sampled many varieties – and selected a blend to give just the perfect taste, texture, and color . The apples we use most are Golden Delicious, Rome, Red Delicious, and York. Here’s some interesting history and food for thought about each of these wholesome, locally grown varieties.

Golden Delicious – Considered a perfect “all purpose” apple and often used to make apple sauce, apple butter, and jams, Golden Delicious apples have a distinct golden-yellow hue and mildly sweet taste. Despite sharing a last name, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious hold no kinship. When handling Golden Delicious apples, take care not to drop them because they bruise and soften easily.

Fun Fact: In 2010, scientists from 20 institutions worldwide mapped out the genome of Golden Delicious apples, and are using what they learned to trace the lineage of apples throughout history. Their best guess so far? The first apple tree came into existence 65 million years ago, when a comet is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs.

Rome – Named after the town in which they originated (Rome, Ohio), Rome apples are considered a real beauty for their deep red color and plump round shape. They taste tart and tangy, and even better when cooked. Chefs think of Rome apples as a true “baking buddy” and use them in everything from apple sauce to apple pie.

Fun Fact: When crushed and fermented, Rome apples make excellent apple cider vinegar, long considered an elixir for everything from inflammation and high cholesterol to diabetes and psoriasis.

Red Delicious – When preschoolers draw their first apples, it’s often with an apple like Red Delicious in mind. Shiny, red, thick-skinned, and a little elongated, Red Delicious are mildly sweet – and the most widely grown apples in the world. They originated in Madison County, Iowa, in the late 19th century and now grow in several states nationwide.

Fun Fact: Red Delicious apples are considered “storage” apples because they can keep for at least three months after being picked. When stored in cool but humid conditions, they can last even longer.

York – A little lopsided in shape with yellow-spotted, red skin, York apples are less known for their attractiveness and more for their mild, juicy taste. Like Red Delicious, York apples make excellent “storage” apples and even go by the nickname “Imperial of Keepers.” They originated in York, Pennsylvania, in 1820, and are used widely in baked goods, apple sauce, cider, preserves, and juice.

Fun Fact: When first picked, York apples taste tart and sour but sweeten up after five to six months.

How many apple varieties can you name? Challenge yourselves as a family, and see how close to 7,500 (or even 10) you can get. Share your results with us on Facebook, and see what other weekly family fun is happening as part of Musselman’s Celebrate Family Sweepstakes.