An Apple A Day

An apple a day?

Do you like apples? A man named John Chapman sure did. You might know him better as Johnny Appleseed. He was born on September 26, 1774. The stories of him walking across the land and tossing apple seeds aren’t exactly true. They’re also not UNtrue.

There really was a Johnny Appleseed, and he really did go around planting apple trees.

Left : “A drawing of Johnny Appleseed.”
Right : “An old press used to squeeze the apple juice.”
It was a tough time. America wasn’t a country yet but wanted to be. After the American Revolution, it was time to build a nation. A big part of this was to make good use of the land. A young John Chapman had two ideas in mind. One was to travel around and preach the gospel. The other was to set up nurseries where apple trees could grow.

In a way, he wandered and tossed apple seeds to grow into trees. In another, he did this in an organized way. He didn’t just throw the seeds along the side of the road as he walked. He planted the seeds, then built fences around them so the cattle and wild animals didn’t destroy them. Now and then he would return to those planted grounds.

Most of these apples weren’t something you would want to eat. That would come later. While he lived and did his work, the apples were good for making hard cider. This is an alcoholic drink. Johnny Appleseed didn’t seem to mind this as long as more and more people would grow the trees – and he could travel to preach the gospel.

It was a time when some Indian tribes hated the white European settlers. Yet they respected him, and he could travel wherever he wished, unharmed. He lived a peaceful life. One story tells of how he lit a fire in the woods on a cold winter night to keep warm. He noticed that some mosquitoes were drawn to the light and died in the flames. According to this story, he put out the fire and slept in the cold rather than have even a mosquito harmed.

He was one of the few people allowed to travel wherever he wished to go. Even the hostile Indian tribes welcomed him. They considered him “touched by the Great Spirit.”

Johnny Appleseed planted only seeds. He didn’t believe in grafting. That’s putting one kind of branch onto a different branch or trunk. In his time, this meant that the apples grown weren’t good for eating. Mostly the apples were used for squeezing to get the juice. Cider was made. Many times this was allowed to sit long enough to become hard cider, sometimes called apple wine.

Later, others used cross-breeding and grafting to create many different kinds of apples. There are now nearly 8000 different kinds of apples. Some are meant for eating. Others are used more often for cooking. Still others make juice. They can be red, yellow, speckled. They can be very large, or quite small.

From them you can make all sorts of things. Squeezing apples to get the juice and to make cider is still popular. They can be eaten just as they are, or peeled and cut into pieces. One of Danny’s favorites is “raw apple pie.” One of my own favorites is REAL apple pie. There are many kinds of this, too.

Apple dumplings and apple fritters are so tasty. Have you ever had one? There are many different ways to make these. Some use slices of apples, or pieces. Others use apple sauce. These are a little like apple donuts. YUMMY!

Apple Fritter Apple Pie
Apple Dumpling Apple Cider

Since apples are part of the harvest festivals, they have also become part of games and for special treats. Even if you’ve never tried it, imagine it. A nice, fresh apple floats in water. Now imagine a large bucket filled with water. Toss in some apples. Now go get one, but … you can’t use your hands. You have to grab that apple with your teeth. As you try, it moves away. Trying to get an apple this way takes some doing, and you will be a wet mess just for trying.

A favorite during the holidays is to coat an apple with candy, such as caramel. Because the caramel is sticky (and messy), you can roll those apples in nuts or whatever else you wish (bits of tiny marshmallows?).


An old saying is that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This is a Welsh saying from the 1800s. It has been shown in these past 200 or so years that this is quite true. Here are just a very few recipes.

Danny’s Raw Apple Pie

Core and peel an apple, then cut it into slices. One apple per person should be enough. Almost any kind of apple is fine. For each apple, put about a teaspoon of sugar (less is okay) into a baggie along with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Seal it and let the kids give it a good shake. Open and put in the slices. Seal again and shake, shake, shake, shake.
Now eat, eat, eat, eat, eat.

Making Apple Sauce

Making apple sauce isn’t difficult – but it does require some cooking. If you’re going to can it (put it into bottles) even more heat is needed to steam and sterilize the jars and lids. It can also be put in baggies and frozen.

Get some apples. What kind or kinds is your choice. If they’re not sweet enough, you can add some sugar. Regular white sugar will make your sauce sweeter. Brown sugar will add a molasses taste. Maple syrup makes still another kind of apple sauce. You can also mixed several kinds of apples. Another change is to add spices such as cinnamon.

Just think how much fun you can have!

“Today let’s use Granny Smith apples with cinnamon. Last time we used Fuji apples with brown sugar.”

Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into pieces about 1- inch per piece. Put them in water and boil until the pieces are soft. (Some people say to steam the pieces, not boil them.) Now mash them, or put them through a food processor. Taste and add whatever sugar or flavoring you wish.

Now you can put it into sterile jars, freeze it, or just eat it.

Here are some links to help get you started.

Caramel Apples

Making caramel apples can be messy – but that’s part of the fun! As with apple sauce, some heat is needed. That’s to melt the caramel. Put a stick, such as a popsickle stick, into the apple. Then dip and roll the apple in the melted caramel. A table knife can also be used the spread the caramel. If you want, roll the apple in crushed nuts – peanuts, walnuts, whatever you like. Set them on a piece of wax paper to cool and harden.

You can also get “kits” that have everything, including the sticks (but not the apples).

Another Apple Story

Long ago a man named Isaac Newton was trying to figure out how things work. He was a brilliant scientist. Some say he was the greatest scientist who ever lived.

Have you ever seen a rainbow? Isaac Newton was the one who figured out how it happens.

Satellites go around the earth, as does the moon. All this goes around the sun. Quite a few scientists worked on this. Newton finally wrote it down in his “Three Laws of Motion.” Some say that he discovered gravity. Well, no, he didn’t. Not really. If you drop a heavy stone on your toe – if you fall off a cliff – you’ve discovered gravity.

You may know this story, or have seen it in a cartoon.

Sir Isaac Newton sat under an apple tree. He was thinking hard about the mysteries of the universe. Then an apple fell from the tree and conked him on the head. After he said, “OUCH!” he said “Eureka,” (or something like that) which means, “I got it!”

It’s not likely that Newton understood everything just from being clobbered by an apple. However, some of his close friends did say that he worked out some of the math after watching, and playing with, apples. He’d been studying how and why things fall for a long time.

What makes an apple fall?

What makes anything fall?

Why doesn’t the moon crash into the earth? Why doesn’t the earth crash into the sun?

Here’s a fun, but messy, experiment. Throw an apple against a wall. It smashes. It becomes apple sauce (not worth eating). Why does it smash? The answer might sound easy. “It hit the wall!” Newton figured out why. From that … today we have airplanes and satellites.

Blow up a balloon and let it go. ZOOM, it flies across the ROOM.

Newton wanted to know why.

It wasn’t the first time, or the last, when something as simple as an apple led to bigger things. Mostly it means paying attention.

If you go bowling you use a bowling BALL, not a bowling brick. Why is that?

People like Sir Isaac Newton asked questions like that.

Then they went to find the answers.

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