It’s apple season

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Oct 10, 2012 - 03:23 PM

Photo: A bounty of fall apples invites the cook to try something new and delicious. Photo by Elsa Cooke Verbyla

A bounty of fall apples invites the cook to try something new and delicious. Photo by Elsa Cooke Verbyla

As the sun begins to take its journey towards the southwest and the air turns crisply to autumn, you know it’s fresh apple season.

The saying "As American as apple pie" is called the symbol of America, so you would perhaps think the apple is the most popular fruit in the world. To the astonishment of most North Americans, mangoes are consumed worldwide by a factor of three to one over bananas and ten to one over apples. Of course, if you consider the tomato a fruit, that would be the most popular.

These figures in no way diminish the popularity of the apple, a member of the rose family, and especially the Virginia apple. Virginia is among the 10 top apple-producing states. The native Virginia apple was a small bitter crab apple. It was introduced from Europe around 1622 when the Virginia Company sent seedlings from European apples. The new settlers’ first act was clearing the land; then building a cabin and planting their gardens and an apple orchard. The law required that for every 500 acres granted, settlers were "to enclose and fence a quarter of acre of land near his home for a food source for baking and cooking and gardens and an orchard." The Virginia apple industry was thus born. Today, over 18 varieties of apples are grown commercially in this state.