The year my daughter Clara was born we were lucky enough to have access to our friend’s ancient and over-productive apple trees. We had bushels. We ate them fresh, made sauce, butters and jams. We baked pies and stuffed them into squash and grain pilafs. It was fantastic.
Apples have wonderful, gentle healing properties that I can recommend for everyone, making them one of the few foods that are truly safe to eat everyday. I often serve fried or poached apples with a full breakfast as soon as they become seasonally available.
A little history first
Apples hold a dear place in our hearts. The luscious orbs appear in fairy tales, legends and stories, symbolizing everything from youth to health and vitality. Originating from Europe and Asia, apples are a member of the rose family, and have been a staple in our diets for centuries. Most of us are familiar with only a dozen or so varieties like Red Delicious, Fujis, Pippins and Granny Smiths but there are over 7,500 individual varieties. The mind whirls. The family also includes crab apples which has fallen to the wayside because of their tart little natures. Apples are one of the few fruits with a long harvest season. Small varieties, including crabapples, come into season as early as late May and larger varieties can be harvested into late fall, so long as they don’t frost. Their peak season in the late summer and autumn months – August through November depending on variety and climate. They are also one of the sturdiest fruits and if properly stored in a cool, dark space, you can eat them fresh until late spring.
The healing benefits of apples
Apple’s Asian medicine energetics
Apple’s have a slightly cooling nature, helping us let go of the accumulated heat of summer. Their cooling property combined with their, high fluid content, nourish Yin and body fluids, especially in the Lungs. Perfect timing for the fall allergy and cold season. Apples have a sweet and sour flavor. They enter the Liver, GallBladder, Stomach and Spleen. They regulate Blood sugar, stimulate the appetite and aid in the removal of fatty stones (gallstones & kidney stones).
Apples are high in fiber and help lower cholesterol
High in fiber, vitamin C and pectin, apples help the body shed fat and toxins through proper bowel movements. Just one medium apple (with the peel) will give you nearly 10% of your daily requirement of fiber. Most of this fiber is found in the peel, so stop peeling your apples (unless your bowel health condition demands otherwise) – which means you need to be sure to get them free of pesticides and wax. One apple a day has been shown to lower blood cholesterol by as much as 10% – wow. High fiber also means that the bowels are regulated relieving both cholesterol and diarrhea. Tartic and malic acids found in apples further aid the digestion by controlling unhealthy bacteria in the gut. If you suffer from IBS or any weakened digestive condition, apples should be a regular part of your diet though you may need to peel them in severe cases.
A quick note – The more tart or sour the apple, the greater its ability to clean out stones, fatty deposits and to stimulate the Liver and GallBladder.
Ways to include apples into your diet
Eat apples raw or cooked
Apples are one of the few foods that I am okay with any client eating raw–even those with very weak digestions that are on diets of soups and well cooked foods. If they do bother your stomach because they are cold–heat them up. A few moments in skillet with a little cinnamon and butter makes a great topping for oatmeal. Bake, stew or poach them for greater warmth. Bonus! Eating apples raw gives your teeth and gums a wonderful cleaning and strengthening.
An easy way to save and use them. A staple in the Amish community–applesauce is on my ‘weak digestion list’ for anyone with compromised digestion-young or old. Rinse, core and blot apples dry. Peel, if desired–I don’t because a fair amount of pectin is found in the peel. Drop them into a pan or crock pot add a wee bit of water and heat them until they are soft enough to mash. Make up a big crock pot and can some for later. Toss in a few frozen berries for extra zip. How about Spiced Applesauce?
Make jam or butters
Jams and butters (or fruit spreads) are great ways to preserve summer’s delights. For the English, jams and spreads were one of the ways to get vitamin C into their diet. You don’t need a pressure canner for applesauce or apple butter. Just a hot water bath. Consult your Blue Book for details.
Dried apples are a fantastic snack for school lunches, travel or busy people. Take thinly sliced apples, dip them in a little lemon water, maybe even roll them in a titch of cinnamon. Dry at 200 for a day then check to see if they are to your desired dryness. In the winter I will use dried fruit, reconstituted in a little brandy, wine or water as a compote or for a rustic tart.
Contraindications for apples
Nope, can’t think of a one. I give well cooked applesauce to elderly and babies. I recommend it in IBS and every nutritional disorder – we just might keep to the subtle, less tart apples for illness. Okay, I had one client who was a little over zealous with juicing green apples for the treatment of gallstones, but we were talking pounds here.