Jul 6, 2018

Why Apples are the Best Homestead Fruit Crop

Why Apples are the Best Homestead Crop
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I've already written about the perfect homestead vegetable crop; it's high time I write about what I believe is the perfect fruit crop, too. There are lots of easy to grow fruits out there, and all of them have their importance for urban and rural homesteaders, but as far as I'm concerned, there's a hands-down winner every homestead should have: Apples.

I can't take credit for being the first to  think apples are a must-have. If you've ever explored old homesteads, you know you can almost always find apple trees on them. This is, in part, because apple trees are hardier than most other fruit trees, tending to live longer, even with neglect. But it's also because apple trees were considered the fruit tree every family should have. Why is this? Let me count the ways:

* Apple trees are reliable and prolific. Many farmers and homesteaders will tell you fruit trees have a tendency to produce bi-annually, meaning one year you may get little to no crop, and the following year the harvest is abundant. Yet in my experience (both as a suburban homesteader foraging for apples in public areas and as a rural homesteader with an orchard) apples rarely have a bad year. And did you know that a
a single apple tree can provide 130 lbs. or more of food each year? Holy smokes! I'm so thankful for their heartiness and abundance.

* Apples are filling. In my opinion, apples are more filling than any other fruit (probably because of their water and fiber content). When times are hard, you can count on apples to fill bellies. It's the reason Johnny Appleseed gifted pioneers with apple seeds!

These beauties from our orchard are a meal unto themselves!
* Apples are nutritious and medicinal. According to the USDA, one apple contains 148 mg of potassium, 3.3 g fiber, and even a wee bit of protein. Apples are also high in antioxidants, polyphenols, iron, and vitamin C, while also containing vitamin K, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Some studies link apples to reduced risk of heart disease, Altzheimer's and dementia, and asthma. They also are a prebiotic, meaning they feed the good bacteria in your gut...plus, dentists say apples help clean your teeth. Herbalists use apples (especially wild or crab apples) to treat constipation, indigestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea, high cholesterol, and minor wounds. They also use apple leaves to treat minor wounds and act as an antibiotic - and the apple tree's bark as a treatment for fevers. Additionally, apple pectin is used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, and radiation exposure. (Click here for instruction on how to make and use apple pectin.)





Immature apples on our homestead.
* Apples can be preserved a myriad of ways. Many varieties store well in cold storage (in a cellar, garage, or refrigerator). Apples are easy to dehydrate; they freeze (and freeze dry) beautifully. You may also can apples to make halves in light or heavy syrup, jelly, jam, "butter," applesauce, cider and juice, apple pie filling, and more. You can easily use apples to make vinegar, too. (Click here for more tips on preserving apples.)

* Apples are versatile. Eat them by themselves, make them into a dessert, turn them into a savory dish, squish them to make something to drink, and use the scraps to make vinegar!
Homemade applesauce is healthy and delish.
* Apples are good nutrition for homestead animals. Pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits, and chickens all enjoy eating apples. Not only are they a natural, healthy food for animals, but it helps cut down on homestead feed costs, making critter-keeping more affordable.

So if I had to choose just one type of fruit to grow on our homestead, it would, without a doubt, be apples.

More Posts about Apples:

What to do with Crab Apples

Apple Peel and Core Jelly

Picking Unripe Apples for Making Apple Pectin

Apple Skillet Cake Recipe

Apple Spice Bread Recipe 

Apple Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars Recipe

Old Fashioned Baked Apples Recipe

Canning Apple Pie Jam

Freezing Apples

Freezing Apple Pie Filling

The Best Tasting, Easiest Applesauce Ever

How to Make Apple Cider with an Electric Juicer

Making Dried Apple Rings in the Warmer Drawer

Wax Costing on (Store Bought) Apples: Is it Safe?

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