Apples can be canned or juiced. They are milled to produce apple juice. The juice can be fermented to make apple cider (non-alcoholic, sweet cider) and cider (alcoholic, hard cider), ciderkin, and vinegar. Through distillation various alcoholic beverages are produced such as applejack (beverage) and Calvados. Apple wine can also be made. Pectin is also produced.
Apples are an important ingredient in many desserts, such as apple pie, apple crumble, apple crisp and apple cake. They are often eaten baked or stewed, and they can also be dried and eaten or re-constituted (soaked in water, alcohol or some other liquid) for later use. PurÃ©ed apples are generally known as apple sauce. Apples are also made into apple butter and apple jelly. They are also used (cooked) in meat dishes.
Sliced apples turn brown with exposure to air due to the conversion of natural phenolic substances into melanin upon exposure to oxygen. Different cultivars differ in their propensity to brown after slicing. Sliced fruit can be treated with acidulated water to prevent this effect.
Organic apples are commonly produced in the United States. Organic production is difficult in Europe, though a few orchards have done so with commercial success, using disease-resistant cultivars and the very best cultural controls. The latest tool in the organic repertoire is a spray of a light coating of kaolin clay, which forms a physical barrier to some pests, and also helps prevent apple sun scald.
Eating fallen apples (known in the UK as ‘windfalls’), rather than picking directly from the tree, is generally safe. There may be a risk of food poisoning if the orchard is also the area of keeping cattle or other animals, which may contaminate the apples with feces. Still, the risk may be significantly higher if the apples are used to make home-made (unpasteurized) cider or juice, thus letting E. coli multiply.
Oral allergy syndrome is an allergic reaction some people will experience due to the birch pollen left on the apples. Because the pollen is the main irritant, only the raw apples, especially their skin, cause the allergic reaction. Cooked apples do not cause these symptoms as the heat denatures the proteins in the pollen rendering them harmless to those sensitive. If one is allergic to apples, he or she may also experience an allergic reaction with other fruits in the Rosaceae family which include peaches and hazelnuts.
Symptoms vary from person to person but are generally mild. This typically includes the sensation of itching and swelling around the mouth and lips. Other symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Hives may develop in those who have a high sensitivity to the pollen. Abdominal pain and diarrhea may also occur.
The proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” addressing the health effects of the fruit, dates from 19th century Wales. Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Compared to many other fruits and vegetables, apples contain relatively low amounts of Vitamin C, but are rich source of other antioxidant compounds. The fiber content, while less than in most other fruits, helps regulate bowel movements and may thus reduce the risk of colon cancer. They may also help with heart disease, weight loss, and controlling cholesterol, as they do not have any cholesterol, have fiber, which reduces cholesterol by preventing reabsorption, and are bulky for their caloric content like most fruits and vegetables.
There is evidence that in vitro apples possess phenolic compounds which may be cancer-protective and demonstrate antioxidant activity. The predominant phenolic phytochemicals in apples are quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2.
Apple juice concentrate has been found to increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in mice, providing a potential mechanism for the “prevent[ion of] the decline in cognitive performance that accompanies dietary and genetic deficiencies and aging.” Other studies have shown an “alleviat[ion of] oxidative damage and cognitive decline” in mice after the administration of apple juice.