Forage Friday #50 wild apples

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “New Leaves On A Volunteer Apple 32020” and was taken just for Forage Friday. All of the photos are my original work and are available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

I’ve posted a few images of the Bradford Pears in the parking lot of my day job but they’re not the tree in bloom right now. A couple of years ago I spotted an apple that had washed down the creek and come to rest on the edge of my yard. Some of the neighbors upstream have apple trees so it didn’t really strike me as unusual. I also have chosen to allow the trees to take over the banks of the creek to prevent erosion and stabilize the soil. I didn’t even notice that the apple had sprouted until I saw the single bloom last Spring and this year it’s added a few more. If it’s as I suspect the apples are the same variety as the ones upstream. They will be hard, knobby and tart. Not really great for eating off of tree but wonderful for baking.

My grandmother Dempsey always had a houseful of absolutely delicious food but there was three things that we always looked forward to having. The homemade bread that was always freshly baked and warm from the oven, peanut butter logs that were a kinda like a Reese’s cup but far superior and the homemade apple fritters from the trees in her back yard. There was a bunch of cousins that were mostly boys but most of them were well grown by the time I was old enough be sent to the back yard to gather apples. If the kids in my age group it was usually myself and my brother along with my cousin Billy who would pick up and shake down a poke of apples. Now for some who don’t know how many apples are in a poke there was a time before plastic bags that your groceries came in a paper sack. The most common was a #70 peper sack that the older generation refered to as a poke. The biodegradable paper bags were done away with in order to save the environment starting in the late 70s. But I digress. The poke of apples were all hand peeled and the skins tossed into the compost pile on the edge of the woods. My grandmother would chop some of the apples into a sauce with spices and when it was rendered she would add some wedges and cook it down a little to make her filling. The shell of these little pies was a homemade pie shell about the size of soft shell taco and once filled they were fried in lard. ( I believe it was lard but I am not sure. ) It doesn’t take 3 growing boys long to empty a plate of fritters.

Because apples are a pretty common food in modern times we could write a whole book of different ways to use the fruits. Apples are made into both hard and sweet cider as well as vinegar, breads, applesauce, chips and much more!

Once when I was a kid I thought that it would be funny to quote “an apple per day keeps the doctor away” as my doctor walked into the exam room. He just smiled and replied, “don’t throw apples at me.” But truth is apples do in fact have some medicinal value to herbalists. An old time cure for diarrhea or constipation was applesauce. But there’s a value beyond that. The leaves of the apple tree itself are used in teas for stomach ailments and are said to be mildly bitter. Most of the articles that I read suggest mixing the leaves with other things like blackberry leaves, strawberry leaves, honey and cinnamon. The mix of leaves are going to be astringent. I would also suggest that you gather the young leaves for tea because the older they get then the more astringent they’ll be. That same mix when made from the older leaves can be used externally for acne and skin infections. According to James A Duke of the Peterson’s Field Guide the leaves of apple trees are antimicrobial and a strong tea made from bruised apple leaves can be used to wash minor wounds.

Apple wood is absolutely gorgeous. One of my all time favorite walking sticks was made from a whole crab Apple tree that was reclaimed from a project that required the tree to be removed.

Do you have a favorite apple recipe or have you ever made a tea from the leaves? Let me know in the comments below! 😊

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