GourmetGiftBaskets.com calls New Hampshire home, and with fall coming up fast, that means two fun activities for New England: leaf peeping and apple picking! Our neighbor state, Massachusetts, is home to Johnny Appleseed himself, the legendary pioneer who brought apple trees and nurseries to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. There is nothing quite like picking an apple from the tree yourself and biting right into it! It doesn’t get much fresher than that, and apples direct from the orchard taste so much sweeter, juicier, and crisper than what you find in the store.
How Do We Have Apple Trees?
American Orchards Are Not Native to the U.S.
But, believe it or not, the apples you know and love didn’t originate in New England! Even though American orchards are now known the world over for dozens of delicious varieties, apple trees first originated in Central Asia (primarily Turkey), where their wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Reverend William Blaxton, from Boston, planted the first apple orchard in North America in 1625.
In 2010, Italian researchers and horticultural genomicists at Washington State University decoded the entire genome of the Golden Delicious Apple. It had about 57,000 genes, the highest number of plant genomes studied to date. This is even more genes than the human genome (which has about 30,000).
Earliest Apple Trees
Biologists and botanists believe that the apple tree was perhaps the earliest cultivated by humans. Through thousands of years of selective breeding, we ended up with 7,500 apple varieties, all from that one wild tree. Crab apples are native to North America, but they were never earnestly cultivated by Native Americans. Unlike the varieties grown and bred across the rest of the world. Crab apple trees were eventually cross-bred with European tree varieties brought to the new world by the colonists. This created new apple species that we still eat today.
Today, the United States is the world’s second-largest producer of apples (China is the first). Not too bad for a country that’s only been growing apples for less than 400 years!
An Apple a Day
As for the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Researchers have found that “prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the U.K.”. Send someone you love a taste of fall with a fruit gift basket filled with apples, oranges, pears, and other delicious fruits today!