We are in the midst of our apple pie series and I love spending some time looking into the history and origin of what we are covering. Did you know that even though apple pie is considered very American, neither the apple or pie has an origin on our continent? There are many other interesting facts about apples and apple pies. Today, we are going to share ten shockingly interesting apple facts and talk about the history of apple pie. Enjoy our list.
- The only apple native to North America is the crab apple. Nearly all of the apples that were grown in America were brought by settlers or invented at a later date..
- While Apple Pie is considered an American icon, Apple pies have been made around the world for a very long time, even since before America was found by the west. This is a print of a 14th-century apple pie recipe. We all know that in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, right?
- In olden times, the pie crust was called a “coffyn”, which I can only assume is an old-timey word for coffin. If you think about it, the pie crust of an apple pie really is a coffin for dead apples, right?
- Even though we often think about an apple when talking about the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden… there is no apple actually named. It is mentioned as a “fruit” and not an apple.
- The number of distinct varieties of apples grown in North America reached about 14,000 in the 1800s. Commercialization and taste preferences started to narrow this down as time goes on. There are about 2,500 grown in the US today, with only about 100 varieties grown commercially.
- Growing an apple from apple seed often does not have the desired result. The child tree, if it makes it to adulthood, may not even grow apples. If it does, it may not produce the expected apple. For this reason, most apples are grown via grafting, as demonstrated in the video below.
- One of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson is the grandfather of the Fuji Apple. While the Fuji apple was first cultivated in the 1930s and later introduced to the states in the 1960s, it is a cross between the Red Delicious apple and the Virginia Ralls Janet. The Janet was first grown at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello orchard.
- Pies go as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians though more often used with meats.
- Most of the early apple varieties in America were more intended for hard cider and not for eating. In fact, Johnny Appleseed was more known for apples intended for cider than the eating varieties. During the period of prohibition, apple trees intended for cider making were even destroyed.
- During WWII, different products became a bit scarce, such as apples and sugar. The easy one to get around would be sugar, as honey could be used as a substitute, but how would a person make apple pie without apples? Well, it was done. Here is a sample of a mock apple pie made from ritz crackers!
I hope you found these tidbits of knowledge as fascinating as I do. I feel that learning about the history and origin of a food brings me closer to the recipes. Almost as if I have a better understanding of what I am eating. History brings a context to a dish that may not make it actually taste better, but give me an appreciation for why the dish is special. I think that the apple pie is absolutely a special dish. Even though it may not have origins in America, we really have embraced apple pie as our own and it has become an American icon.